Black River Gorges National Park in southwest Mauritius offers fantastic hiking trails through one of the rarest rainforests in the world.
The Black River Gorges National Park is located near Chamarel in the southwest of the island of Mauritius and is one of our top 10 attractions in Mauritius. It protects the fascinating rainforests of the dreamlike island, which belong to the rarest forests in the world.
Black River Gorges National Park was established in 1994 as Mauritius' first national park and covers an area of nearly 70km². The hilly terrain is home to lush green upland and lowland forests, as well as swampy heathlands.
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PICTURES: Black River Gorges National Park
How to get to the Black River Gorges National Park?
Getting to the Black River Gorges National Park can easily be done by car. It is located in the southwest of the island, just under 40km or 1 hour's drive south of the capital Port Louis and about 30km (about 45 minutes by car) from the popular resort of Flic en Flac. The small village of Chamarel is virtually its neighbor.
The entrance to the Black River Gorges National Park is free of charge. Two visitor centers inform tourists about possible activities in the national park and its flora and fauna.
The larger one is in Le Pétrin at the east entrance, the second one in Black River at the west entrance. There are also good hiking maps available and guided tours can be booked. However, there is neither food nor drinking water in the park, so be sure to stock up!
Tip: Numerous buses and cabs take visitors to the entrances of the Black River Gorges National Park and also pick them up again. This way, you can move through the spectacular landscape completely independent of your own vehicle.
The best hiking trails in Black River Gorges National Park
The optimal way to explore the Black River Gorges National Park is on foot. By car or bus you can also see some of the landscape on the two roads, but you cannot dive as deep into the wilderness of Mauritius.
An extensive network of hiking trails totaling 60 kilometers crisscrosses the spectacular landscape, making the Black River Gorges National Park the largest hiking area in Mauritius. The trails are well signposted and maintained and offer walks and hikes for every level of difficulty. Several picnic areas invite you to linger and really soak up the fascinating surroundings.
Tip: In the Black River Gorges National Park it rains more often from noon on, so an early morning visit is recommended as well as rain gear, mosquito repellent and good shoes, as the trails are often slippery. You can find out about the current condition of the trails at the visitor centers.
Macchabée Trail and Parakeet Trail
Especially recommended is the 10km Macchabée Trail through the spectacular Macchabée Tropical Forest, which leads directly to the visitor center in Le Pétrin. The Parakeet Trail is 8km long and starts at the Black River Information Center. It leads up to the impressive waterfall in Plaine Champagne, but requires some stamina and endurance.
Bel Ombre Trail
On the 18km Bel Ombre Trail you have a good chance to spot native birds and flying foxes. The trail leads to the southern park borders and overcomes a difference in altitude of 400m, which is especially noticeable on the way back. If you don't want to do this, you can also take a cab or bus back from the village of Bel Ombre.
Black River Peak Trail
The Black River Peak Trail leads to the roof of the Black River Gorges National Park. The goal of the 9km long trail is, as the name suggests, the summit of Black River Peak, the highest elevation in Black River Gorges National Park at just under 830m. It starts at Plaine Champagne Road and leads over mostly easy trails, but steadily uphill.
On the hiking trails of Black River Gorges National Park, all sorts of rare plants can be discovered, such as the Chinese guava, the dodo tree, the fan-shaped traveler's tree, and a variety of colorful orchids. Some of the last ebony trees can also still be seen, which once provided the hardest wood in the world for warships.
Tip: If you want to experience the national park in full bloom, you should schedule your visit for the months from September to January.
Viewpoints in Black River Gorges National Park
Several viewing platforms repeatedly reveal spectacular panoramic views over the breathtaking rainforest of Mauritius. The most impressive of them is probably the Black River Gorges Viewpoint, which is well signposted. In clear weather, the view falls over the entire deeply forested gorge all the way to the coast.
Research and strict species protection
In four field stations in the Black River Gorges National Park, the unique flora and fauna of Mauritius is being researched. 150 different plants are endemic, i.e. they grow only on Mauritius and nowhere else in the world.
In order to protect the original nature of the island, the spread of introduced species that threatened the native species has already been prevented, both in the animal and plant kingdoms. These include, for example, the Mauritanian flying fox, as well as nine endangered endemic bird species, including the Mauritius falcon, the Mauritius or roseate pigeon and the Mauritius parakeet.
In addition to the endangered animals, deer, macaques, wild boars and a myriad of colorful butterflies are also native to the Black River Gorges National Park. The National Park and Conservation Service of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the NGO "Mauritian Wildlife Foundation" take care of nature and species conservation in the national park.