Hiking is the main drawcard here, but it's also possible to mountain-bike down some trails. Contact Yemaya Adventures for the latter.
Positioned on the outskirts of the Black River Gorges, roughly 8km southwest of Curepipe in central Mauritius, this set of seven scenic cascades (some say 11) is a wonderful reward for those willing to take on a challenging hike.
Attempts to access the falls should not be made without a guide. Local guides (charging Rs 500 to 1000) usually wait around the bus station at Henrietta, a township near Curepipe, although we prefer linking up with Yanature.
For a truly unique and unforgettable experience, adventurers can abseil from chute to chute on a half- or full-day canyoning excursion with Vertical World or Otélair. Both operators start their trips from Henrietta.
Worth a Trip: Black River Gorges Scenic Drive
Although we strongly recommend that you explore the Black River Gorges National Park on foot, if that's not possible you can still get a taste for this beautiful region by car. Before we get started, a word of advice: avoid making this trip on weekends if you can, as the otherwise quiet roads are flooded with locals driving slowly and stopping by the roadside while they hunt for wild berries.
Begin along the coast road on Mauritius' western coast at Grand Case Noyale (around 1.5km north of La Gaulette and around 7km south of Black River), where a signpost points inland towards Chamarel. If you're looking for a landmark, there's a cream church set back from the corner. After crossing the coastal plain, the road begins to climb steeply through increasingly dense forest. Around 4km after leaving the coast road, close to the top of the first ridge line, a lookout on your right offers fine, sweeping views of the coastal plain and out to sea.
Passing through Chamarel, ignore for now the signs to Terres de 7 Couleurs and bear left through Chamarel. After passing Rhumerie de Chamarel, continue climbing through the forest for around 6km to the Gorges Viewpoint. On a clear day the views from here across the gorge rank among the best on the island. Look for the Piton de la Petite Rivière Noire (Black River Mountain peak; 828m) on your left, and keep an eye out for the Mauritius kestrel, tropic birds and fruit bats.
A further 2km along the paved road, you pass the Plaine Champagne Police Post trailhead for the Parakeet Trail, with the turn-off for Alexandra Falls a further 2km on. Turn right off the main road, passing beneath a pretty honour guard of trees, then follow the short path out to the falls' viewpoint. While there, you can admire the cloud forest of Mt Cocotte (771m) and the view down to the south coast.
Back on the main road, turn right towards Chamouny at the roundabout 2.5km beyond the Alexandra Falls turn-off and follow the road down the hill through the thinning forest. After around 3km, pull into the unpaved parking area on the right (west) side of the road – from the low ridge of dirt and rock there are good views down into the crater lake called Bassin Blanc.
Return up the hill and continue straight ahead at the roundabout. After just over 2km, turn right and follow the signs to Grand Bassin, an important pilgrimage site for the island's Hindus 2.5km from the turn-off. Long before you arrive, you'll see the massive and curiously hypnotic Shiva, one of two statues that watch over this sacred spot.
Return the 2.5km to the main road and at the T-Junction you'll see the Pétrin Visitor Centre. Even if you're not planning to hike, park your car and wander around the back to an enclosure where pink pigeons are being prepared for release into the wild.