Black River Gorges National Park

Photo by Els Slots.

Black River Gorges National Park is part of the Tentative list of Mauritius in order to qualify for inclusion in the World Heritage List.

Black River Gorges National Park is the primary habitat for most of the Mauritius' threatened endemic birds and the rarest endemic plants. The park protects most of the island's remaining rainforest. The threatened birds include Mauritius kestrel, pink pigeon and echo parackeet.

Map of Black River Gorges National Park

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The coordinates shown for all tentative sites were produced as a community effort. They are not official and may change on inscription.

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Els Slots

The Netherlands - 05-Oct-10 -

Black River Gorges National Park (T) by Els Slots

Black River Gorges National Park (BRGNP) is one of the few places in Mauritius that cannot be visited properly by using the country's extensive bus network. At my first attempt I got as far as Chamarel, from where it's technically possible to walk into the park (though not tempting). I choose to visit the "coloured earths" instead that day.

A couple of days later I hired a taxi, and we drove the main road through the park. Le P├ętrin is the main access to the BRGNP coming from central Mauritius. This also is the starting point for several longer hikes that can be done in the park. A ranger guards the entrance here. He was a bit concerned about me walking all alone. But I convinced him (and my driver) that I wasn't going too far. I just hiked up to the first viewpoint, about 30 minutes from the road. It quickly became clear to me why there is so much emphasis on "viewpoints" in this park: 99% of the time you walk on paths that are surrounded by hedges and thick forest. A clearing in the bushes then gives away to amazing views over the surrounding mountains and a high variation of trees.

After Le Petrin we stopped at two other viewpoints: Alexandra Falls and Gorges Viewpoint. Both are located next to the main road, and see quite a number of visitors. At least enough to warrant souvenir stalls, an ice cream seller and toilets. The Gorges Viewpoint is especially brilliant, as you look from above into the gorge.

It is difficult to predict if BRGNP will ever become a WHS. For one thing, I don't know how hard Mauritius is pushing this site. It has been its only tentative site for years. Also, would the protection of a number of endemic birds be enough to merit WH status? Is a pink pigeon rated as high as mountain gorillas or okapi? The park is home to 28 endemic bird species, and 163 endemic flora species. There's not much originality left in the flora and fauna of Mauritius, due to the huge increase in human population, the introduction of foreign animal and plant species and natural disasters like cyclones. Maybe the world should celebrate the little that is left of this once unique and pristine island. Over the course of a week I visited places all over Mauritius (including its 2 WHS), and I definitely rank BRGNP as the best thing to see here.

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