Lunch at the Kitchen – Lux Le Morne

While we were staying in Mauritius, we took a stroll down the beach from our hotel, the St Regis, and came across the 5 star Lux Le Morne hotel, which also had a dramatic view of the majestic Le Morne.

Le Morne is an UNESCO World Heritage site and the location of the hotel is highly privileged as the beach surrounding it has white, powder soft sand and is spectacular.

We were feeling peckish so we wandered in and asked if we could have lunch there, as there was a beautiful decking area with a gorgeous view of Le Morne. The restaurant was called the Kitchen and is the hotel’s central restaurant.

While we decided what to eat, we nibbled on bread that arrived with a choice of dips.

For drinks I went for a Mojito and Amit tried the local beer, Blue Marlin. The Mojito was not the best I have had and was slightly on the strong bitter side. It was still refreshing on a hot day.

The heat was intense in Mauritius so we opted for lighter dishes for our lunch. The first one was a Papaya Salad and carrot, which was served inside a rice leaf pouch and drizzled with olive oil and with a pink peppercorn crunch. It was lovely and tangy.

Amit opted for a less lighter option and went for a club sandwich with a side of chips and coleslaw. He loved that everything tasted so fresh and the chips (I stole a few) were amazing.

The second of the lighter options was Vietnamese rice spring rolls, which were filled with vegetables and a light soya dressing. It was delish! It was massive too and surprisingly very filling.

The restaurant location was stunning and we found it to be a lovely relaxing spot to have lunch with the sea breeze and the beautiful view.

This was our palm fringed view of the sea on one side which was stunning. It is also a dolphin territory but unfortunately we didn’t spot any that day.

We really enjoyed our lunch and it was nice to try somewhere different so if you are staying around Le Morne during a trip to Mauritius, it is worth checking out the Kitchen at Lux Le Morne.

For more information on Lux Le Morne click here.

 

My Top Ten Travel moments of 2016 and travel plans for 2017

2016 was a year full of such varied travel and I am so grateful for all the experiences that I have been lucky to have. My top ten travel highlights, in no particular order, were as follows:

  1. A BBQ out at sea in Mauritius

Having a BBQ on a Catamaran in the middle of the Indian Ocean in Mauritius was one of those “pinch me, is this real?” moments and was an unforgettable experience. What made it even more special was that we saw some dolphins jumping in and out of the water whilst we were chilling on the Catamaran, soaking up the sunshine. I generally am happiest when on a boat, out at sea, so this was definitely a memory I will cherish forever.

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2. Exploring St Malo, in Brittany 

I had visited St Malo, when I was 15, as part of a school trip to spend a few weeks there, attending a school to learn French. In 2016, I was invited by Brittany Ferries, to experience St Malo again and it was just stunning! I fell in love with it all over again and ate all the salted caramel I could manage. It is such an easy trip from the UK and I highly recommend it.

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3. Making my own pizza in Naples, Italy

As part of our cruise in September 2016, one of our stops was Naples, in Italy and it happened to be during the Pizza Festival. We spent the day exploring Naples by foot, learning about the history and then went to a restaurant where we learned how to make the pizzas Naples is famous for ourselves! It was such a lovely experience and one of the top foodie moments of 2016 for me. The pizza was delicious too!

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4. Visiting Monaco

Monaco had been one of the destinations on my travel wish list for so long so when it was part of the destinations our cruise was going to I was ecstatic! I loved exploring Monaco and taking in the views and aspiring to own a yacht parked in the marina one day!

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5. The Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

Barcelona is one of my favourite cities in the world, and this was my third visit to the Catalonian capital and I can never tire of seeing the sights.

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6. Climbing the Pyramid of the Sun, Mexico City 

Climbing the third biggest pyramid in the world in Mexico City was also a top travel moment. I was very unfit and had to stop several times before I made it to the top! However, the view from the top made up for the exhaustion! If you ever visit Mexico City do not miss this out and make sure you climb it!

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7. Visiting my husband’s family’s Kesar Mango Farm in India

This year my husband took me to India to visit his ancestral home outside of Bhuj. They grow the famous Kesar Mangoes at the farmland close to his home and trust me those mangoes, when in season, are the best mangoes you will ever eat!

It was nice to have a (forced) social media detox and not be able to check emails and just immerse myself in the laid back culture and breath that fresh air every day.

PS: I know I look like a Kesar Mango myself in this bright yellow outfit LOL

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8. Seeing the Gateway of India in Mumbai

Another landmark, top of my list to see, was the Gateway of India, and in 2016 I ticked this off the list. It had always interested me, especially after reading about the Mumbai Terror Attacks, and the major plus point was it was right opposite the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, which we stayed at and also ticked off our hotel wish list.

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9. Going to the top of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai

Although I have visited Dubai several times, we have never actually gone to the top of the Burj Khalifa until 2016 on a family trip there. It was dark when we got to the top at our scheduled time so we saw all the pretty lights making the city sparkle. I would love to go again during the day time on my next visit to Dubai.

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10. Attending The Latin America Top 50 Restaurant Awards

The final highlight of many, was attending the Latin America Top 50 Restaurant Awards in a very glitzy ceremony in Mexico City, as part of a press trip. This trip was especially confidence boosting for me as I had never travelled so far by myself before and with a lack of knowledge of much Spanish I did struggle a little. However, it has also led to one of my new year’s resolution being to learn Spanish as I would love to visit other parts of Latin America.

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So far in 2017 I have plans to visit Athens in January, Paris in February and a long trip back to Kenya in March to attend my youngest brother’s wedding as well as spend lots of time with family and friends.

We have yet to plan a trip for our seven (gasp) year wedding anniversary as well as a big trip for when I end my career at some point this year (tbc).

I would love to see more of Asia, Latin America, North America as well as some more city breaks in Europe.

Keep an eye out on my Instagram to find out as and when I make some more travel plans.

What is on your travel wish list this year? I would love to know in the c0mments section below 🙂

Highlights of 2016 for Binny’s Kitchen & Travel Diaries

2016 has been a whirlwind year where plenty of Mojitos were consumed, lots of new friendships were made, several destinations were visited, both in the UK and abroad, and lots of dining out occurred at various new and classic restaurants!

Best Mojito of 2016

First things first! My favourite Mojito was at the Langham hotel. Trust me I have had a lot of Mojitos in the name of research to come to this conclusion 😉

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Now we can carry on to the rest of the year. Here is my round up of my year with lots of photos.

January

The year started quietly as we had just returned from a trip back home in Kenya which had been pretty hectic with a wedding to attend and some family time split between Mombasa and Nairobi. The highlight of January however, was getting to meet Jason Atherton and getting a signed cook book. I somehow managed to win an Instagram competition on Jason’s feed and had won a meal for 2 at his restaurant Social Wine and Tapas, which was brilliant. I didn’t take my camera though and didn’t blog about it. A lesson I learned from and didn’t repeat for the rest of the year. That camera is permanently in my handbag!

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February

The shortest month of the year and we had our first staycation of the year in Nottingham. It was fun exploring the city and visiting the castle. The highlight of the staycation was visiting the Kitty Café because if you know me you know I am a super crazy cat lady!

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In London we also visited the Magic lantern festival and that was quite spectacular! I hope that there is something similar to see next year!

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March

March was the only month where I seem to have stayed in and cooked more than I went out for some bizarre reason. I did however go to Hoppers London for some Egg Hoppers, which has definitely been a very fabulous experience.

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I also had Bao, and fell in love with the Horlicks Bao. It is heavenly!

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April

April was a month of celebrations with my Blog having its first year anniversary as well as it being our sixth wedding anniversary! We celebrated both and went for meals to Bob Bob Ricard, famous for its “Press for Champagne” button/switch as well as one of my favourites, and evidently a favourite of Michel Roux Jr too, Michelin starred Gymkhana.

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With spring settling in we also visited the Cotswolds for a weekend trip and stayed at The Falcon, in the very cute and quaint town of Painswick.

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We also celebrated our anniversary with a long haul trip to Mauritius where we stayed at the St Regis, which was out of this world.

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May

May was the UK Blog Awards 2016 ceremony for which I was a finalist in both the Food & Drink and Travel categories. My work bff Anne came to stay the night with me to attend the ceremony, along with Mandy, and we went to the ceremony in a chauffeur driven BMW 7 series which had massage seats! Thank you to BMW for that little treat!

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The next day we went on a road trip to Liverpool, and Amit and I explored the city and had a memorable meal at Mowgli Street Food. If you go to Liverpool it is a must try!

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I went on my first ever press trip abroad too and to a destination I had visited when I was 15! It was to St. Malo in Brittany and it was such a lovely trip and I ate all the Salted Caramel I could, as well as some delicious pancakes. I got to go with my blogger friends Sandra, Omo and Eulanda and we had such a fabulous time.

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June

June was the start of good weather and I enjoyed the Taste of London festival, a food festival where you can try dishes from most of the restaurants in London.

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Got to catch up with one of my faves – Chef Vivek Singh too and got a copy of his book.

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I also got to meet one of my food heroes in June and had the opportunity to have a short interview with him – the legendary Antonio Carluccio. He is such a cutie! He did answer a very important question I had for him too. Click on the link on his name above to find out what!

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I also went for a fix of Asma Khan’s delicious food at Druid Street Market, where proceeds of her food went towards charity. Excited to have more of her amazing dishes in 2017.

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June was also the month I worked on my first big campaign with Nescafe! It was such fun to shoot and it is my favourite brand of coffee too so worked out perfectly.

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July

In July we made the most of the gorgeous weather and visited Rye, were we stayed at the marvellous Gallivant hotel. If you are thinking of visiting Rye, it is such a gorgeous hotel!

I also took a day out to volunteer at the charity I wholeheartedly support, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. Amit and I make it a point to do this yearly. To find out how you too can help have a read about it here.

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I had my fix of summer ice cream in Suffolk too with a dose of some much needed beach time and some fantastic Indian food at Sea Spice restaurant in Aldeburgh.

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The highlight of the month, however, (and I probably am showing my craziness here), was meeting Grumpy Cat! I stood by myself in a queue for an hour and a half and no I am not ashamed to admit it lol.

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August

August started with a super fun tea-athon with Starwood hotels and I later returned to review my favourite afternoon tea venue at the Sheraton Grand London.

The launch party of the much anticipated Symmetry Breakfast cook book was also in August and could not be happier for Michael Zee. It was an extra special evening as Michael proposed to Mark in the book and at the launch party and a few tears of joy were shared.

Amit’s birthday is in August and this year I treated him to a 3 Michelin star meal at the Waterside inn. We loved our meal and even had the opportunity to meet Chef Alain Roux as well as get a sneak peek into the kitchen.

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September

September was a month of travel for me and we started off with a Mediterranean Cruise with P&O where we sailed to Cadiz, Barcelona, Monaco, Rome and Naples. I also got to meet the lovely Karen from Lavender and Lovage as well as Amanda from Glamourous Glutton on the trip and we all had such a fantastic time!

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As part of the cruise, we had a dinner date with THE James Martin and I am sure everyone is sick of me gushing about him now but I can’t help it. I love the man and especially love his monkey bread and snickers ice cream too.

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I bravely went to Mexico City by myself too to attend the Latin America 50 Best Restaurant awards and this was such a wonderful experience and such a superbly organized press trip. I got to experience the food, culture, arts and main sights in Mexico City.

October

I went to the glitzy Sheraton Grand London relaunch party with my blogger friends Em and Aftab and had a fun filled evening of champagne, good chat and fantastic food.

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I also went to a pasta making masterclass hosted by Theo Randall which was great fun. Most of the month was spent planning our upcoming trip to Dubai and India.

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November

November is always my favourite month as it is my Birthday month! This year I decided to have my birthday meals at Michelin starred Kai in Mayfair, a birthday brunch with my favourite bloggers Angie from Silverspoon London and Aftab from Fresh and Fearless in the Mirror room at Rosewood London and a very special meal with Amit at Vineet Bhatia London.

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We then flew to Dubai, where we stayed at the Sheraton Dubai Creek, and spent a few days on a family holiday.

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We then went onwards to India where we visited Bhuj and my husband’s ancestral home, followed by a luxurious break in Mumbai at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, which had been high on my list of hotels to visit.

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December

December kicked off with one of my favourite meals of the year at Jamavar. If you haven’t been yet it is a must! I have already been twice and already looking for excuses to go back. If anyone wants to go with me let me know!

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I was also lucky to meet another food hero, Eric Lanlard at his Patisserie ,Cake boy thanks to Meantime Brewing Company. To kick off the festive period we made some Mince Pies with a special ingredient – Cake Boy’s Hazelnut Ale. Utterly scrumptious!

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For the rest of the month I have spent some much needed time relaxing, catching up with family and friends and spending some time getting to know my brand new godson.

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2016 has been a wonderful year and I am so grateful for all the experiences I have been fortunate to have, especially in terms of travel, and for the fantastic friends I have made along the way. I am really looking forward to 2017, which is set to be a year of change for me in terms of career.

As for New Years Resolutions, I want to continually improve on my blog, spend some time improving my photography and getting to use my Canon 760D better and learn Spanish (Geri if you are reading this I am learning Spanish for my return to Mexico one day).

The travel priority is going home to Kenya as I didn’t manage to make it home this year. We have also booked a weekend in Paris so am looking forward to that too.

What have been the highlights of 2016 for you? I would love to know in the comments section below.

Top tips for an African Safari – an experience which everyone should do at least once!

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“I never knew of a morning in Africa when I woke up and was not happy,”

Ernest Hemingway.

I wholeheartedly agree with the quote from one of my famous authors from English Literature days in school and my fellow Mojito lover. Having been born in Kenya, in East Africa, growing up in Africa has truly enriched my body and soul in so many adventures, memories, knowledge and life experiences.

One experience, which no matter how many times you do it, is just always so amazing, is going on an African safari. There is something about seeing lions up close in the grasslands, or a cheetah jumping on a neighbouring car’s roof (or your own car roof) which is just unexplainable. It is a truly life changing experience.

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It is thrilling to see wild animals in their natural habitat, going about their daily lives. If a safari is on your bucket list tick it off sooner rather than later (it is definitely worth it) and here is how to get the best out of your safari.

Firstly where to go on safari? I am going to be unashamedly biased and say East Africa, either Kenya or Tanzania, although it is meant to be really good in South Africa too. You can read about one of fellow blogger Angie Silver’s luxurious safaris in South Africa at Singita Lebombo here.

For the purpose of this blog post I am going to talk about Kenya as safaris in Kenya are what I am most familiar with.

Planning the Safari

First things first is the destination. Within Kenya itself, you have a choice of several game reserves. As important as the game reserve you choose, is the accommodation, which can range from budget lodges to luxurious camps. I went for the luxurious option and stayed at the Olare Mara Kempinski on my last safari which was amazing and is in Masai Mara.Read about it here. It is sometimes worth it to spend a little bit more for an unforgettable experience as after all it is a once in a lifetime Out of Africa experience 😉

You then have to decide whether you are going to go for a package tour or do it yourself. There is a benefit of having a good driver, who can often double up as a fantastic guide. They often know how to seek out the hiding spots of all the animals making your chances of seeing lots of animals higher.

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National park entry fees

An important consideration is that there is a daily fee for national parks which range from $40 for some of the smaller parks to upwards of $60 for some of the bigger parks. If you take your own vehicle there may be a charge for the vehicle too so make sure you add this to your overall budget costs for the trip.

Timing is everything

The time of year you choose to do your safari will influence the cost of your trip as well as the amount of wildlife you are likely to see. The dry season, which runs from June to October, is usually the best time of the year to see wildlife. It is also the most expensive and busiest time of year, especially August as this is when the Wildebeest migration happens. The Wildebeest Migration, is one of the “Seven New Wonders of the World” and also known as The World Cup of Wildlife.

You need to decide what works best for you in terms of timing and cost. If you can, consider going on a safari just before high season kicks in.

Fly or Drive?

In Kenya, you can choose to either arrive at your chosen accommodation by car or fly into the neatest airstrip. The cheaper option is to drive but it is also the longest journey.

Flying, may be slightly pricier but you save lots of time and can see the game park from an alternative angle.

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Packing for your safari

Once you have booked your safari and the time has come to pack, here are some suggestions of must bring items:

  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Flip flops
  • Swimwear (if your camp has a pool)
  • A warm jacket/sweater for evenings
  • Insect repellant
  • Sun cream
  • Light clothes
  • A blanket or shawl for early morning drives
  • Camera with spare batteries and various lens
  • Sunglasses
  • Binoculars
  • Travel backpack
  • A novel to read for when you are back at the camp
  • Always carry cash with you and a form of ID

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The Safari experience

Once you have arrived at your destination, make sure you arrange to do an early morning game drive. Although it may be more tempting to have a lie in instead, trust me it is so worth it! An evening drive is also recommended to experience sunset in the park.

Once you go on your first safari don’t go with high expectations of seeing the big 5 all in one go, although you may get lucky and see them all in your first drive!

Do keep your eyes and ears open to ensure you don’t miss out on an animal hiding!

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Always be respectful of the animals and keep noise to a minimum when you are nearby so not to disrupt them in their natural habitat too much.

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Finally make sure you live in the moment use all your senses to fully experience the moment and adventure. As tempting as it may be to photography absolutely everything, take a moment out to just take in the surroundings, the smell of the african savannah, the smells of the game drive and the sound of the animals.

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Things to do in Mauritius

Mauritius is an island I whole heartedly fell in love with and spent the most incredible 8 days on. It is just so beautiful, has wonderful palm fringed scenery everywhere you look, and absolutely gorgeous beaches.

It is the perfect place for a honeymoon, or simply to escape to paradise, but the best part about Mauritius is there is so much to do and so much to see. I can’t believe it has taken me this long to visit Mauritius, having been born in the Indian Ocean coastal city of Mombasa, Kenya. It is a place I will definitely go back to that is for sure.

An island where the primary language is French, although everyone does speak excellent English, there are hints of the old British rule in aspects such as the side of the road they drive on and the colonial style architecture still present in some parts of the island. The majority of the residents are of ancestral Indian heritage though but they have been in Mauritius for so many generations that they consider it home.

I can totally relate to this being a third generation Kenyan with Indian heritage. For me home is Kenya and always will be.

We did spend some days totally relaxing on the lush beaches with a cocktail and a good book, or cooling off in the pool, but we also spent some very memorable days exploring the island. Here are some of the highlights of our trips, and activities we chose to do.

Casela World of Adventures & a Lion/Tiger experience

At Casela World of Adventures, you can walk around the park as you would in a zoo and see various birds and animals, or you can go quad biking, zip lining, tour in a safari jeep or have different animal encounters (at an extra cost to your main ticket).

They have many species of animals which are lovely to see such as the giant tortoises (pictured below), lions, tigers, monkeys and so much more. There is also a petting zoo where young children can interact with hens, goats and sheep.

We decided to do the tiger cub experience as we had both never seen tigers in person before. I have to be honest and say I was expecting tiny little cute cubs so when I saw the size of these cubs I did freak out a little bit. They were totally fine though and so gentle. It was an exciting and wonderful experience and would really recommend it. An alternative experience is to walk with lions.

Le Morne

Now ahistorical world heritage site, Le Morne mountain, which is 550 metres high is a majestic mountain that stands as a cathedral for freedom, as it was where many runaway slaves sought refuge and hid. As the tale goes, the day that slavery got abolished, some slaves hadn’t heard about it yet and thought that some soldiers they sighted on the mountain, who were actually coming to give good news were actually dangerous and so they jumped to their deaths to avoid being captured.

You can see Le Morne from various points of the island, but you can also go up it! We didn’t but we have friends who did and said the views were spectacular.

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Tea factory tour and tea tasting at Bois Cheri Tea Plantation

Bois Cheri Tea is one of the major tea brands in Mauritius with lots of history and heritage behind it, having been in production since 1892. It was established by Messrs Bour and Le Breton, and the 250 hectares of land now produce up to 700 tonnes of tea every year, 25% of which is reserved for exportation.

It is also one of the few tea plantations where you can visit for a couple of hours, see how tea is processed and packed, as well as spend some time in the museum. You also have the opportunity to go for a tea tasting and try the different variations of Bois Cheri Tea.

The tea tasting experience is made even more special with the view and it is seriously a must do if you are visiting Mauritius.

You can read more here: https://binnyskitchen.com/2016/05/26/tea-tasting-at-bois-cheri-tea-plantation-in-mauritius/

Grand Bassin – Ganga Talao

Another scenic and beautiful place is Grand Bassin (Ganga Talao), where you will find a natural lake within an extinct volcano crater. According to mythology, the water here is linked to the sacred Ganges river in India.

Many Hindus visit here and it is considered that taking a dip in this lake during the Shivratri festival is auspicious. Here you will also find a famous Hindu Temple with beautiful statues standing tall from the lake, and stunning views. You can go inside the temple for blessings and it is really worth visiting to see the architecture and the gorgeous statues.

img_5800At the northern side of the lake stands a 108 feet tall statue of Lord Shiva, which is the second largest statue of Lord Shiva in the world.

You can read more here: https://binnyskitchen.com/2016/05/15/ganga-talao-hindu-temple-in-mauritius/

Chamarel Waterfall

The Chamarel waterfall is just breathtaking. 83 metres tall and formed by the River St. Denis, this is a site not to be missed. Surrounding the waterfall is lush green vegetation of the Black River National Park. You can get two different views of the waterfall and both are amazing. The steps to go up to the second view are a little uneven so make sure you have flat shoes!

Chamarel and the seven coloured sand

Within Chamarel, which is a small village in Mauritius is the unique seven colours sand. These were formed naturally and have hues of colours, ranging from yellow, red, brown, violet, purple, green and even blue. As you walk around the area you can get diverse views of the sand, as well as one from an observation deck.

At Chamarel, they also have giant tortoises and they are just adorable!

A BBQ on a Catamaran

One of the coolest BBQs I have ever attended was right out at sea on board a Catamaran as part of a day trip. Seriously the best BBQ I have ever experienced.

We decided to take the Catamaran cruise to the south west of the island and our first stop  was watching dolphins swimming and jumping out of the water. It was just amazing!

We then went snorkelling, had our BBQ lunch on deck and then went onto a smaller boat around crystal rock and then on to Benitiers Island, which has beautiful white sandy beaches. We spend a bit of time looking at the souvenirs and swimming in the sea.

 

The day trip was so worth it. We had such a brilliant time and you just got such amazing views of the island from the Catamaran, especially of Le Morne.

We booked the triphttp://www.catamarancruisesmauritius.com/en/catamaran-full-day-cruise.php through our hotel

A foodie tour in Port Louis and eating the famous Dholl Puri with Alouda

I was lucky enough to have met my fellow blogger friend and Mauritian Anu from Peachy Tales for a day touring Port Louis and she took me to eat, what can be considered one of the most popular dishes in Mauritius – a dholl puri. This is a cross between a parantha and dal kachori and is a flat bread stuffed with ground yellow split peas.

 

We enjoyed the dholl puri with a very refreshing and delicious alouda from Pillay, which is similar to falooda and oh so delicious!

Located within a food market, it was fascinating to see all the fresh vegetables and fruits, and food for sale within the market. Interesting spots included Nan Khatai, which I grew up with in Kenya, so was good to see it in Mauritius too.

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Guava and green chilli

As we were walking around Port Louis, Anu got us to try the guava which was in season, which are so different to the guava I am familiar with.

These were eaten with dried green chilli, salt and sufar mix which was rather addictive. So if you are walking around Port Louis and spot a vendor selling this on the corner of the street get some!

Sugarcane juice

Mauritius has an abundant supply of sugar cane due to the sugar cane fields visible throughout the island. If you get a chance, definitely drink some sugar cane juice as it is so refreshing and delicious.

Coconuts

If you spot fresh coconuts, eating the flesh and drinking the water is a must too. They hydrate so well and are so lush.

Beaches

Make the most of the picture perfect beaches and temperatures as they are simply stunning. A slice of paradise! The beaches on the south of the island are amazing but all over the island they are really beautiful.

Some tips:

  • The easiest way to get around is taxi, but it can be quite expensive so it is better to hire a taxi for a day and try and get as much sightseeing as possible within the day. For example, in one day we managed to go to the temple, chamarel, Casela and Bois Cheri. We then spent separate days at Port Louis and on our catamaran trip.
  • Always carry a hat, a bottle of water and sunscreen as the sun can get very intense.
  • If you go to your hotel with a taxi when you arrive in Mauritius, you can negotiate a cheaper rate for the return journey with the driver so make sure you take their business card.
  • Do wander around outside your hotel and in to other hotels to eat in order to experience different food.

 

 

Ganga Talao Hindu Temple in Mauritius

Mauritius has a large population of Hindus and beautiful temples can be seen all over the island. The main one, however, and considered to be incredibly sacred, is Ganga Talao in Grand Bassin.

Almost all the staff we spoke to at our hotel told us this was a must visit, so on a Monday, considered an auspicious day, we made a trip to the famous temple.

It was magnificent, beautiful and just so peaceful. It is open to everyone, and there were lots of fellow tourists taking in the idols, the views and just the beauty of it all.

During Maha Shivaratri which is an annual festival celebrated in reverence of Lord Shiva, a vast number of pilgrims come from all corners of the island, mostly on foot, to pray in the temple and cleanse themselves with the lake’s holy water.

The lake is a crater lake, 550m above sea level. The water is considered to be formed from a drop from the Ganges, according to a story that Lord Shiva accidentally dropped a few drops of the Ganges when he was carrying it on his head, forming the lake, whilst he was showing his wife the most beautiful places on earth.

There are other stories but this one is my favourite.

The connection with the holy ganges is what makes this temple so special to so many Hindus, who come here to worship during key festivals as well as whenever they want some peace and prayer time.

The inside of the temple is tranquil, peaceful and a fantastic place to just take a moment and pray.

If you wish, you can also have a little prayer session with the priest, which I did and he was really good in terms of explaining what to do and the significance of it.


Much to my delight, there were lots of cats wandering around outside the temple but they were sadly very shy cats, and rather lazy and sleepy.

Just outside the temple, there is a massive 33m statue of Lord Shiva. It is so grand and impressive, and I have never ever seen anything quite like it.

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On the opposite side of the road is work on an equally massive statue of Durga Maa, which already looks stunning but is not completed yet.

Even if you are not Hindu, or particularly religious, the temple is a must visit to see the grandeur and the beauty of it. It is just stunning!