The alarm signaled 06.30am. Meeting time was at 08.00 in the village of Quartier Militaire situated on the east coast of the island of Mauritius. As it is usually the case here, some were late while others got lost on the way. Once everyone was present, we headed towards the Sainte Therèse church in the small village of Olivia where our hike started. Destination: Grande Rivière Sud Est (the longest river in Mauritius – 34km): no complaining, with our caps on, we started.
Everyone had finally gathered and been offered bananas and other fruits before following our guide, all with our phone to consult the track. Far off we could spot Le Chat et la Souris mountain (the Cat and mouse). Having a close look, one can guess why this mountain is so called ! The hike continued through the sugar cane fields, which were flowering at this time of the year. We gradually engaged into a forest. Many varieties of palm trees were all around us: Dwarf Palm, Mexican Palm, Japanese Palm and other vines and trees with trunks as wide as we can see in the film ‘Journey to the centre of the earth’. In the distance we could hear the flowing river, which is the same sound made by the rain touching the ground. We pursued our journey amongst the leaves, branches and stones whilst minding our steps. We also had to keep our heads up so as not to get caught up in the vines. We walked side by side along a river which can be compared to a bride’ s veil.
First stop, a magnificent waterfall calmly dropping into a stream of water which reflected the countryside and the sky. The paparazzis in the midst of nature, whipped out their cameras to immortalise this beautiful scenery. Not a single sound around but only the gentle rustle of the leaves in the wind. We reached our second stop, even more majestic than the first one with a series of small waterfalls clear and fresh, tumbling on the black, grey and brown rocks. The white foam flowing into the river made us yearn to jump in, however it was clear that we could not take any risks. We continued our hike whilst allowing ourselves to be guided by the melodious sounds coming from the Grande Rivière Sud Est waterfalls, so sought after by our visitors. Another hour to go. Different shades of green as far as the eye could see and we found ourselves in single line moving across the sugar cane fields. We caught our breath to start a climb, muddy at times to finally reach a kiosque where we had an unhindered view of this south-east part of Mauritius island. On one side the village of Quatre Soeurs with its turquoise ocean and on the other, the Flacq district revealing a bright green color. At more or less 13h00, it was time to rest and catch our breath before starting the descent. Heat and fatigue could be felt but no one was willing to quit. A signpost invited us into making our third stop: ‘ Les sentiers de l’amitié’ (The paths of friendship). A group photo was a must ! We were not too far now, a few minutes’ walk and our adventure through the forest would almost come to an end. We then crossed a bridge while the ‘bride’ s veil’ continued its way beneath our feet.
The road sign ‘Welcome to GRSE’ made us shout : At last ! A few more steps through the sugar cane fields and the trees; a rocky descent and we were there. There were smiling faces with bright eyes everywhere, cheering : ‘Wow’ ! Within a second, we were all by the side of the waterfall. We could hear a somewhat deafening noise of a dazzling white waterfall coming from a green and calm stream. As a bonus, we were blessed with a rainbow! Nature really had many surprises in store for us! Without hesitation, we dipped into the water barefoot. Unfortunately, it was soon time to go back to reality. By then, we were all hungry and as we arrived at the village of Bel Air, we indulged into some ‘mine bouillie and boulettes’ (Typical Mauritian Street food). There really was no better way to end this day!