It was Charles Darwin who sent Aldabra tortoises to Mauritius, saving them from extinction, and today his work is continued at La Vanille Réserve des Mascareignes, a breeding park set up in 1985. Around a thousand tortoises now live among the lush tropical foliage here, and can be seen at all stages of development, from tiny hatchlings to hundred-year-old Domino who ambles around the tortoise prairie. Around two thousand Nile crocodiles, originally imported from Madagascar in 1985, also lurk in ponds and under bridges – the reserve used to be called The Crocodile Park, and is still known by that name locally. The crocodiles are farmed, so some are used for handbags and belts in the gift shop, and served in Le Crocodile Affamé/The Hungry Crocodile.

Other highlights include deer, cheeky Macaque monkeys, wild boar, one of the world’s largest collections of insects, including butterflies, and an aquarium. It’s easy to spend two to three hours here, with opportunities for kids to hold a baby Aldabra tortoise or crocodile, and a Mauritian fruit bat or iguana, and explore the jungle adventure playground.

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