Best Things to Do in Black River Gorges National Park, Mauritius

Things to do in Black River Gorges National Park

Is Black River Gorges National Park on your list of things to see in Mauritius?

And you are right!

This immense natural park is one of the essential visits of a stay in Mauritius, especially for lovers of hiking and nature!

By going to visit the largest nature reserve in the country, you will discover all the beauty of the Mauritian tropical forestits fauna and flora unique in the world, its rivers, its waterfalls and its grandiose panoramas.

Spread over more than 6700 hectares, the Black River Gorges Park is home to many hiking trails in the heart of the native forest, in a luxuriant nature teeming with life.

The park is so vast and accessible from several places that it can be difficult to find your way around when you don’t know.

To help you organize your visit, I have prepared this complete guide.

You will find all the things to do and see in the Black River Gorges National Park, the list of hiking trailspractical information to know, as well as my advice to avoid unpleasant surprises!

So what to do and see in the Black River Gorges Park?

I’ll explain everything to you!

History of the Black River Gorges National Park

I offer you a quick little context to start, just to know more about the place you are about to discover!

The Black River Gorges Park (or Black River Gorges National Park ) is a protected forest reserve of 6754 hectares. It is the largest nature reserve in Mauritius!

It is located in the southwest of the island inland in a mountainous region. This forest was classified as a protected national park in 1994.

The park has since been managed by the National Parks and Conservation Service and by the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation.

Their main mission is the preservation of one of the richest and last primary tropical forests on the planet.

This forest is home to no less than 300 species of plants and 9 endemic bird species.

The Black River Gorges Park is therefore an important reservoir of biodiversity in Mauritius, but also a place to walk as much appreciated by locals as by visitors from all over the world.

things to do in Black River Gorges National Park
The Black River Gorges

What to do and see in the Black River Gorges National Park?

1. The Guided Tour

In my opinion, the best way to visit the Black River Gorges Park for the first time is to opt for a guided tour.

The park is so huge that it is difficult to know which path to choose and what to observe when you do not know the place at all

By being accompanied by a passionate professional guide who knows the reserve like the back of his hand, you will be able to explore the park by taking advantage of all his knowledge of the local ecosystem, fauna and flora.

Your guide will take you to the most beautiful places of the reserve to make you discover incredible  panoramas, waterfalls , and other natural wonders.

It will also allow you to observe endemic birdsmonkeys and giant bats with your own eyes!

The excursion lasts about 3 hours and even includes a swim in the river on the way back. A welcome refreshing reward after the effort!

To book your guided excursion in the Black River Gorges, just click here.

Tips for your Mauritius itinerary:

This guided hike is a very popular outing so I advise you to book as soon as possible to be sure to have room for your dates!

Tips for your Mauritius itinerary:

Are you only spending a few days in Mauritius and want to combine the visit of the Black River Gorges  with other emblematic sites of the southwest in one day?

In this case I recommend this private tour  with driver-guide which includes several stops to visit:

  • the sacred lake of Grand Bassin
  • the volcanic crater of Trou aux Cerfs
  • alexandra waterfalls
  • the Earth of the 7 colors and the waterfall of Chamarel
  • Black River Gorges National Park

This excursion includes hotel pickup and drop-offtravel between sites, guide explanations,  and food and beverages.

It really is the ideal option to get a good overview of the whole South-West of Mauritius, including the Black River Gorgesoptimizing your time.

To find out more about this guided tour and to reserve your place, it’s very simple, just click here.

2. Black River Gorges Park: Hiking

For hiking enthusiasts, the Black River Gorges National Park is a true paradise!

The park is crossed along, across and across by 60km of footpaths of varying lengths and levels of difficulty .

These marked trails plunge into the heart of the Mauritian tropical forest and are punctuated by waterfalls and  grandiose panoramas over the gorges and the sea.

You will evolve in a lush forest animated by the songs of birds, the flight of bats and the sound of the rivers and waterfalls that cross it.

At the visitor reception center near the entrance, you can get information on the various existing hiking trails, their duration and level of difficulty.

To give you an overview, here are some of the main hiking trails to do in the Black River Gorges Park :

  • “Gorges View Points” trail : duration 2h30 – easy level
  • “Macchabée Viewpoint – Rosins Trail” circuit : duration 4h30 – medium level
  • Mare aux Joncs Waterfall : duration 3 hours – medium level
  • “Macchabée Forest Loop” trail : duration 3 hours – medium level
  • Loop of Mare Longue : duration 4 hours – average level
  • Parakeet Trail : duration 7h30 – difficult level
  • Piton Savane circuit : duration 2h30 – medium level
  • ascent of Mont Cocotte : duration 2 hours – medium level
  • Piton de la Petite Rivière Noire circuit : duration 3 hours – medium level

If you only have time to do one hike and you don’t know which circuit to choose, I recommend the Macchabée Viewpoint trail or the Macchabée Forest Loop.

They are among the most accessible (even if it still climbs quite a bit!), they are not too long and give an excellent overview of the reserve.

Tips for your Mauritius itinerary:

Regarding the ascent of the Piton de la Petite Rivière Noire (which is the highest mountain in Mauritius!), I recommend that you take a guide!

The trail is not very well marked and the trail quite steep in places, so using a professional instructor will allow you to reach the top of the Piton in complete safety.

things to do in Black River Gorges National Park
Panoramic view from the Black River Gorges Park

3. The Fauna and Flora of the Black River Gorges Park

The Black River Gorges are home to many endemic plant and animal species . That is, you won’t be able to see these species anywhere else in the world!

Most are rare species, which have narrowly escaped extinction, or are still threatened.

The reserve is mainly known for being the refuge of 9 endemic birds of Mauritius, which you may be lucky enough to see during your visit:

  • the Gros Cateau Vert (also called the Mauritius Parakeet )
  • Mauritius Kestrel
  • the Pink Pigeon
  • gray white- eye
  • le Bulbul de Maurice
  • the Cock of the Woods (also called Tchitrek )
  • the Mauritius Cuckooshrike
  • the Spectacled Bird
  • the Foudi of Mauritius (also called Cardinal of Mauritius )

During your walk in the park, stay attentive and observe the vegetation: you may be able to admire the superb Blue-tailed Gecko, an endemic reptile from Mauritius which hides in the leaves and on the trunks of trees.

The walk in the reserve will also take you to see Black Fruit Bats (the famous “flying foxes”) that you can observe hanging in the trees or flying above the gorges.

And if you are wondering where to see monkeys in Mauritius, you have a good chance of encountering them at the Black River Gorges Park!

Monkeys are very present in the forest but also at the entrance to the park. Especially near picnic tables where they watch for leftovers left by visitors.

Tips for your Mauritius itinerary:

The Black Fruit Bat, this large fruit bat, is the only mammal endemic to Mauritius.

The others (monkeys, deer, wild boars, mongooses, tangues, etc.) are not native to Mauritius but were introduced there by man.

things to do in Black River Gorges National Park
Mauritius gecko

In the Black River Gorges you will also have the opportunity to see many of the  rarest native and endemic plants in the world, such as:

  • Ebenier (or ebony)
  • Olive Wood
  • the blue Latanier
  • Tambalacoque
  • the Trochetia
  • and many others!

In order not to miss all these species without seeing them during your exploration of the park, it is best to be accompanied by a professional guide!

I told you about it at the beginning of the article: it’s the best way to visit the park, especially if it’s the first time you’ve been there!

How to get to the Black River Gorges National Park?

The Black River National Park extends over a large part of the south-west of Mauritius. There are 2 main accesses to enter:

  • Western access, by the royal road of Black River towards the “Black River Visitor Center”. This entrance is located 30min from Flic-en-Flac, 15min from Tamarin and 25min from Chamarel.
  • Eastern access via Pétrin, at the level of the “  Pétrin Information Centre ”. This entrance is 3 minutes from Grand Bassin.

Further south, there are still 2 other lesser known entrances:

  • Access by Chamarel, by road B103
  • Access by Bassin Blanc (via the B102)

Depending on the hike you want to do, you will have to choose one or the other of these accesses. To save you time, I’ve listed them below:

Circuits accessible by the West entrance (via Rivière Noire ):

  • “Gorges View Points” trail
  • circuit « Macchabée Viewpoint – Colophanes Trail »
  • Mare aux Joncs Waterfall
  • Parakeet Trail

Trails accessible via the Pétrin entrance (towards Grand Bassin ):

  • “Macchabée Forest Loop” trail
  • Mare Longue Loop

Trails accessible from Chamare l:

  • circuit of the Piton de la Petite Rivière Noire
  • circuit of Piton Savane
  • Parakeet Trail
  • ascent of Mont Cocotte

Visit the Black River Gorges: practical information

Black River Gorges Park: price

Entrance to the park is totally free! No costs to be expected (except for the guide if you opt for the guided hike ).

Opening days and hours

On the side of the 2 information centers (Rivière Noire and Pétrin), the park is fenced and closed by a gate. It is open all week from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on weekends from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Tips for your Mauritius itinerary:

It has happened several times that hikers have returned too late from their excursion and found themselves stuck inside the park for the night!

So be careful to plan the time needed to return to the car park before closing time.

When to Visit the Black River Gorges?

You can visit the Black River Gorges National Park all year round without worry.

On the other hand, avoid going there during days of heavy rain : the paths are slippery and dangerous at this time.

The best time to hike in the park is in my opinion between April and October, during the dry season and when there are not yet big heat peaks.

What to Expect

Before going on an excursion in the park, plan everything you need to protect yourself from the sunmosquitoes, eat and be comfortable in your clothes.

Here is a list of essential equipment to take with you:

  • good hiking shoes , non-slip and waterproof
  • water reserves
  • mosquito repellent lotion
  • sunscreen _
  • hat or cap
  • what to eat
  • first aid kit
  • sweater or a jacket (it can be chilly in the heights!)
  • garbage bag
  • towel to dry yourself off if you plan to swim in the rivers

Some additional info to know:

In the Black River Gorges Park, you cannot bring pets, even if kept on a leash.

Fires and cigarettes are prohibited, and you must of course respect wildlife by avoiding making too much noise.

It is possible to camp in the reserve but you must first request permission from the park authorities.

What to see around the Black River Gorges?

After or before your visit to the Black River Gorges National Park, you can explore the surrounding area. The park is located in an area rich in natural sites and tourist attractions.

Here is a list of the main places of interest to see in the area.

1. Grand Bassin

If you go through the eastern entrance to the park (access via the Pétrin Information Center ), you will be close to the sacred lake of Grand Bassin, an essential visit during a stay in Mauritius.

This place of meditation and pilgrimage for the Hindus of the island is also called “Ganga Talao”.

It is guarded by 2 gigantic statues of the gods Shiva and Durga, which welcome you at the entrance to the site.

Here, you can visit many temples that line the perimeter of the lake, attend rituals and religious ceremonies, appreciate the calm and mystical atmosphere of the place.

Tips for your Mauritius itinerary:

To best prepare for your visit, I have prepared a complete guide to Grand Bassin for you, which you can read right here: How to visit Grand Bassin?

things to do in Black River Gorges National Park
The sacred lake of Grand Bassin

2. Flic-en-Flac

On the west side of the Black River Gorges Park (via the Black River Visitors Center ), you will be very close to the beaches and the seaside resort of Flic-en-Flac.

Flic-en-Flac is a small coastal town very touristy, famous for its large white sand beach lined with casuarina trees.

There are also many shopsrestaurantsluxury hotels and nightclubs.

It is an emblematic place of the country, which is impossible to miss during your tour of Mauritius.

Take advantage of your visit to the southwest to spend a day on this magnificent beach, go diving and many other things.

Tips for your Mauritius itinerary:

You want to know more? I explain everything there is to do and see in  Flic-en-Flac  in my dedicated article:  Top 12 activities and visits in Flic-en-Flac

3. Tamarin / Black River

Other coastal towns to discover near the Black River Gorges:   Black River and Tamarin, 2 successive towns which are about 20min from the entrance to the park.

Here you can:

  • enjoy the very pretty beach of La Preneuse
  • go shopping at the small Ruisseau Créole shopping center
  • eat in one of the good restaurants in the area
  • go diving
  • take a boat trip!

Tamarin Bay is renowned for the richness of its seabed and for the presence of dolphins and large cetaceans such as whales and sperm whales!

You can already book your whale watching and swimming with dolphins outing here.

4. The 7 Cascades

On the east side of the park, via Pétrin, you will find another exceptional natural site to see absolutely during your holidays in Mauritius.

I want to talk about the site of the 7 Cascades, also called the Chutes de Tamarin (or Tamarind Falls ).

It will take you only 15min by car from the Pétrin Information Center to get there.

At this place, you can take one of the most beautiful hikes on the whole island, along a river punctuated by 7 magnificent successive waterfalls.

On the other hand, it is imperative to call on a professional guide for this outing because the path is not marked at all.

And I have just what you need! Book your guided hike to the 7 Cascades by clicking here.

things to do in Black River Gorges National Park
Site of the 7 Cascades in the south-west of Mauritius

5. Chamarel

Chamarel is another place not to be missed in the vicinity of the Black River Gorges National Park.

In this small picturesque village hides an incredible and famous natural curiosity:  the Earth of the 7 Colors.

In Chamarel you will also find the Ebony Forest nature reserve, a sumptuous distillery to visit (la Rhumerie de Chamarel ), a super fun museum and lots of other things.

I give you all the information on things to see and do in Chamarel in my complete guide, to read right here: Visit Chamarel – The Ultimate Guide

things to do in Black River Gorges National Park
The Earth of 7 colors – Chamarel

There you go, I hope this guide will help you to better prepare your day and fully enjoy this exceptional place!

I am waiting for you in the comments for your remarks, questions and feedback. 🙂

And you, what are you planning to do in the Black River Gorges Natural Park?

Are you going to Mauritius? Read also

Discover all our articles on Mauritius: all our guides are listed here.

Camille L.

Passionate about foreign languages, cooking and writing. I wish to share with you the places, the meetings and the gastronomic discoveries which gave relief to my travels.

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