Vallée de Ferney

Top choice wildlife reserve in The Southeast

Image by Florence Guillemain Getty Images

Protecting a 400-year-old forest, this reserve is an important habitat for the Mauritius kestrel, one of the world's most endangered raptors, and a visit here is far and away your best chance of seeing one. Guides take you along a 3km trail, pointing out fascinating flora and fauna. At noon (arrive no later than 11.30am, or 10am if you're also doing the hike), staff feed otherwise wild kestrels at the trailhead. Bookings for the tour are essential.

As an important habitat for endemic species, Vallée de Ferney is a hugely important conservation and ecotourism area. The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, which helps to train the reserve's guides and provides important input into its policies, has reintroduced a number of other endangered species, including the pink pigeon and echo parakeet, here. Keep an eye out for them if on a hike. There are currently 14 to 15 pairs of Mauritian kestrels in the reserve.

The Vallée de Ferney is also well known as the site of a conservation demonstration that ignited when a Chinese paving company sought to construct a highway directly through the protected hinterland. Attempts at development were unsuccessful, but scars remain: trees daubed with red paint alongside the walking trail were to be chopped down to make way for the road.

The turn-off to the 200-hectare reserve is clearly marked along the coastal road, around 2km south of Vieux Grand Port.

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