May 21, 2011

La Vallee de Ferney Nature Reserve

Two weeks have gone by since our previous hike. The weather is just amazing these days; sunny with temperatures below +30C/86F. Neither too hot nor too humid makes it perfect for hikes. Since I have quite some photos to share, I'll do it in two parts.  
Yesterday we walked on historical grounds; La Vallee de Ferney - a 200 hectare nature reserve and the ruins of the first Dutch landing. This area is situated at the Southeastern part of Mauritius, approx 6-7 km/appr. 4 miles North of Mahebourg. Click here for a map of the area.

The former Ferney estate sugar refinery is the entrance to the Ferney Valley Nature Reserve. The refinery was built in 1743, one of the first sugar refinery built on the island. The buildings are beautifully restored.

The picnic area.
A mini-van took us a couple of km into the nature reserve, where we were met by a guide. He showed us some of the endemic trees, which was very interesting. Click here, and you'll get an idea of the track we followed as well as some of the trees we saw.  

Labourdonnaisia glauca - endemic to Mauritius. It reaches approx 20 m. It flowers rarely, perhaps once every 10 years. It is also known as Bois de natte, Bois de natte à grandes feuilles, Natte rouge à grandes feuilles. The tree is named after B. Fr. Labourdonnais (1699-1753), who was General Governor of the Isle de France (Mauritius) and Bourbon (Reunion Island)

Calophyllum Tacamahaca - native to Mauritius.
I don't find much info about the Tacamahaca in Mauritius. If you would like to know more about the trees, click here.

Cinnamon trees.

A 200-years old mango tree.

If the guide hadn't told us, we hadn't even guessed why some of the trees have red marks. The previous government was trying to force through a new motorway (we knew about that), with a tunnel through Bambous mountain. The red paint marks where the motorway was supposed to be built! This forest is one of the last remaining indigenous forest on the island. It has some of the world's rarest plants and animals, among them the world's rarest bird; the Mauritian kestrel.
Fortunate there were lots of protests and in the end the motorway project was cancelled and the valley/forest has been turned into a nature reserve. How great is that?!

Psiloxylon Mauritianum, also called Bois Bigaignon. Endemic to Mauritius and Reunion Islands.

Part of the 3 km/1.8 miles long track.

The Ferney Valley is a controlled hunting area (stags/Java deer) as well. The hunting season is between June to end of September. There are lots of hunting towers to be seen in the valley. Actually we did see some deers in the distance, but they were too far to get a good photo. DH spotted some monkeys too - I missed them, because I was looking at some tree tops! :))

Stunning view to the Southeast coast; Pointe d'Esny to the right, Ilot Singe and Ilot Chat (the small islands).

The end of the track ends at the restaurant; an old hunting lodge. If we had wanted something to eat here, we had to book in advance. It was a bit late in the afternoon; almost 3 o'clock. The mini-van took us back to the entrance. We signed the guest book and off we went.
 While waiting for the bus, we got a pirate taxi who took us to 'la gare' (bus station) in Mahebourg. From there we had another one hour bus ride and 30 min walk to reach 'la case' (home). :)
To read more about La Vallee de Ferney's work; click here.


karenfae said...

so many interesting photos! such a pretty place to live although the humidity would drive me nuts - I bet you don't have a problem with dry skin though!! Do you see a lot of snakes when you are hiking? and are they safe or poisonous?

sadie said...

I posted your link to my fb page and my friends love it and your photography :)