Tag Archives: Flic en Flac

Hey, Mr Tamarin man, play a song for me!

I don’t have a lot of luck when it comes to climbing mountains, so I was tempting fate when I decided to spend one of my final days on the Drunk and Jobless World Tour of Africa hiking up Mt Tamarin. The monolith looms large over the southeast coast of Mauritius, and I set out to conquer it under brilliant blue skies, hoping the bad weather would hold off long enough for me to make it to the top. I’m happy to say that I made it all the way, and it was fucking amazing.

Climing up Mt Tamarin isn’t easy or completely legal, so I was grateful for the advice I found right here. The track runs through private land, meaning there are a few obstacles in between an adventurous climber and the summit.  I had to start by clambering up to the top of a massive retaining wall surrounding a water reservoir, before sliding underneath a barbed wire fence. The track then weaved through dense forest, and up harsh, rocky terrain. It’s not a walk for the feint of heart, but anyone willing to brave the dangerous conditions is in for a helluva time.

The track is very bloody steep and I had trouble scraping up the side of the mountain, and the journey was made harder by the sweltering conditions. I finally burst out of the jungle and found myself high abve Tamarin, looking down at the shining bay and gloomy salt mines. I kept working my way up whilst gazing in awe at the outrageous mountains that reached for the skies on all sides of me. The views just kept getting better and better, and I couldn’t wait to reach the summit.

The track isn’t long, just a few kilometres, but provides a great workout because of how tough it is. There are no steps or railings, just a track that a goat would struggle to make it up. I slid down the hill a few times and cut myself up a bit, but chicks dig bruises, so I was cool with it.

The approach to the top is as steep as the price of a beer in a Sydney pub, but there are a series of ropes to cling to in order to make the ascent possible. After struggling to the very top, I just stood there and looked out at one of the best views I’ve ever seen (well, outside my bedroom). Bustling villages, golden beaches and endless reefs opened up beneath me as I gawped in wonder, struggling to process the beauty of what I was seeing.

Mauritius is such an incredible country, with so much natural splendour, but the majority of people who come here see little more than their resort’s deck chairs and all-you-can-eat buffet. By pointing yourself towards something that looks interesting – like that big damn hill I kept seeing at the end of Flic-en-Flack beach – it’s possible to discover some absolutely life-changing spots.

Unfortunately, a bit of a wind popped up and blew away all of my clothes, but I didn’t let that ruin my afternoon and still managed to take a series of photographs of myself. Actually, that’s a lie – Mark, a deeply religious friend of mine who is at constant odds with himself due to his rampant homosexuality, offered to give me $10 if I’d take some rudie nudie photos of myself. I’m not complaining; it’s the best money I’ve made in months.

The climb to the top of Mt Tamarin certainly isn’t for everyone – it’s tough, kinda dangerous and probably illegal – but it’s also just about the best thing I’ve done in my time in Mauritius. It’s not a tourist attraction, it’s a spot for the adventurous to test themselves and explore a place that not a lot of people have ever been to. I highly recommend it but, ah, if the cops catch you, don’t mention my name, alright?

Black River Gorge-ous!

Whenever I climb a mountain, it rains. When I climbed Mount Field, it stormed. When I climbed Ulsanbawi, it poured. When I climbed Le Pouce, it pissed down. So when I decided to hike to the top of Black River Gorges National Park, in the south of Mauritius, I was ready for things to get a bit wet – and that’s exactly what happened. Honestly, I could end droughts by travelling the world and walking up hills.

I got dropped off at the Grand Bassin Hindu Temple just as the storm clouds were rolling in, and I was shocked to find a gaggle of hideous mutants hanging around. There was a bizarre monkey-man, a sexy mermaid, and even a terrifying elephant-headed creature. I felt like I was in an episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and half expected Bebop and Rocksteady to turn up and start punching my head in. It’s a nice, peaceful place, and I really got to soak in the atmosphere as I huddled under cover from the rain for 45 minutes.

Just up the road are a couple of 30m-tall statues of Shiva and his missus. They’re quite spectacular, and can be seen towering over the landscape for miles around. The Grand Bassin is a place of pilgrimage for the 600,000 Hindus in Mauritius, and these two statues are the most sacred things in the whole country. I was mightily impressed, but Mrs Shiva was definitely looking a little bit frustrated – most likely because her hubby is wrapped up in scaffolding at the moment, so they can’t root.

The Petrin entrance to Black River Gorges is a short 5km hike from the Shiva statues, and I covered it in record time due to the squall picking up around me. Once through the gates, I followed the well-maintained path up through dense foliage towards the top of the mountain. It’s around six kilometres to the Macchabee View Point, in the centre of the park, and the walk passes epic waterfalls and jaw-dropping canyons. Even with the poor weather, the park was a sight to behold.

Here’s a tip for you; if you’re lazy and don’t want to hike straight up a very steep mountain, enter from Petrin and head west towards Black River. It’s a much easier walk to Macchabee than going in the other direction – the poor bastards I saw coming from the Black River entrance looked like they’d been through 10 rounds with Aussie boxing hero Jeff Horn. The trip down that path was hard enough, and there were plenty of times when I almost tripped over and busted my arse on the sharp and slippery rocks that litter that ground.

The weather was getting worse the longer I hung around the park, so I was forced to hotfoot it out of there so I could find some shelter. I scooted off to the main road and leapt onto a bus bound for Flic en Flac, then held on tight as the driver did his best to crash the fucking thing into any pedestrians, dogs or cars he could find. The mad bastard did actually sideswipe some bludger’s car, but kept right on going. Mauritius might be a relaxed place, but the bus drivers are absolute nutters.

Thankfully, by the time I got back to the beach the clouds had cleared and I was able to pick up a few icy cold cans of Phoenix to sip while enjoying another life-affirming sunset. The weather around here might be as temperamental as a teenager, but when it’s nice it’s very bloody nice indeed. Don’t worry, I’ll have a beer or three for you!