One of the most fascinating natural sites in Mauritius is the Seven Coloured Earths. To go to this site you must go up a mountain with fascinating views until you reach a small town. On the way we stopped at a viewpoint where they sold coconut water and observed the intense blue of the Indian Ocean that contrasts with the mountains.
“Terres des Sept Couleurs” was the original name given by the French. On November 26, 1879 a member of the Royal Society of Arts and Sciences of Mauritius commented on this natural phenomenon. Chamerel is located at the southwest of the island. It receives its name thanks to its founders, Toussaint and Charles de Chazal de Chamarel, who were granted a concession of the region in 1786.
A geological phenomenon
The island of Mauritius was created thanks to continental drifts and collisions, volcanic eruptions and other events. During the intermediate period, between 3 to 1.7 million years ago, the basalt formed from lava spills was turned into clay by hot and humid conditions.
This deep and definitive decomposition left oxides of iron and aluminum on the site. Ferric oxide has colored the sands with shades ranging from red to brown, while aluminum oxide has produced shades ranging from blue to blue violet.
The most curious thing is that if you mix different colors soils, eventually the colors will separate into layers. The stones that were pulverized through the centuries have that unique ability. This can be explained by the fact that iron and aluminum have a natural repellent effect.
In Mauritius it rains a lot and hard but the land dunes never erode. The rains have caused spiraling patterns over the dunes that can reach up to 15 meters thick.
Visit the Seven Coloured Earths
The best time to see the Seven Coloured Earths in Chamarel is at dawn. The colors of the soil resemble a rainbow with shades ranging from red, chocolate, violet, green, blue, purple to yellow.
Since the 1960s it has been one of the main tourist attractions in Mauritius. Originally people could walk on the dunes, but to protect the site, a wooden fence was placed.
Next to the dunes you will find a cafeteria. I was in need of a coffee so I took the opportunity to drink one produced in the same park in Chamarel. Upon entering you can see the coffee plantations. I’m used to having good coffee and I did not like that coffee despite it being grown on volcanic soil. I decided to try my luck with a fruit popsicle that served to appease the heat. They also sell food but we were not hungry.
Next door there is a souvenir shop that sell jars of earth separated in layers. In addition to products and crafts of the country such as coffee, sugar, soaps, among others. If you need to go to the bathroom this is a good place to do so.
They have giant tortoises that are native to Aldabra in Seychelles. The oldest one that the park had was 250 years old but the common age is 150. These tortoises can measure up to 1 meter long.
Waterfall and forests of Chamarel
The entrance to the waterfall of Chamarel is included in the ticket of the park of the Seven Coloured Earths in Chamarel. This 100 meter high waterfall is the highest in Mauritius.
There is a platform to see it without having to walk. There are also stairs that take you to a second higher vantage point.
The waterfall juts out from the edge of a basalt cliff, splashing into an oval pool before flowing through a 6-kilometer canyon bordered by a tropical forest until it reaches Baie du Cap. This beautiful landscape was formed by lava during two different stages. The layer of basalt near the base dates from 10 to 8 million years ago, on top is a second layer from the intermediate period between 3.5 and 1.7 million years ago. If you want to go to the base you can do it with an expert guide. It is possible to swim in the pool of the waterfall.
There are two forests on site: Lavilleon Natural Forest and Ebony Forest. Both places require separate tickets. They offer jeep safari trekking on platforms, guided tours, bird watching, zipline, archery and canyoning.
Chamarel is an excellent place to spend a whole day in your visit to Mauritius. What you decide to do depends on your preferences as there are plenty of options.