Discovering the SSR Botanical Garden of Mauritius
June 03 2018
June 03 2018
On the gorgeous island of Mauritius there’s no shortage of fascinating and wonderful things to explore. This stunning paradise, a much-coveted holiday destination for years, is known for its picture-perfect beaches, beautiful topaz-blue tropical ocean, and its jungle-like interiors flanked by vivid green fields of sugarcane. It’s the epitome of a tropical paradise and is made all the more extraordinary by its unrivalled culture, indulgent local dishes and its interesting history. Here you can try your hand at a host of different water sports, visit one of the many gorgeous nature parks or simply make the most of the excellent year-round weather by lazing on the beach—the options are practically endless.
For those who love to explore their destinations to the fullest, this small island is dotted with sites that are classified as ‘must-visits’. One of these is undoubtedly the absolutely magical Pamplemousses Botanical Garden which is officially known as the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden (or SSR Botanical Garden), found in the north of Mauritius in Pamplemousses, a short distance from Port Louis. This incredible place is said to be one of the best botanical gardens in the world. If you think you may enjoy an excursion to this miniature Garden of Eden, then here are a few things that might encourage you to see the beauty of the garden for yourself:
It’s the oldest botanical garden in the Southern Hemisphere
This extremely popular tourist attraction has actually been around for quite a while, in fact, the actual botanical garden (which was originally a simple vegetable patch for the Governor at the time Mahé de Labourdonnais) was started during the French colonial period by the famous horticulturist and missionary Pierre Poivre. He created the botanical garden in 1770 and introduced a host of both foreign and endemic plants to the property. Over 240 years later, it’s now classified as the oldest botanical garden in the Southern Hemisphere.
This beautiful botanical garden stretches over 37 hectares (it has been expanded since its inception) and holds a wealth of fascinating flora and fauna. Over time the botanical garden in Mauritius went through a series of names changes until finally, in 1988 it was renamed from ‘The Royal Botanic Gardens, Pamplemousses’ to ‘Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden’, after the first prime minister of Mauritius, who played an enormous role in the independence of Mauritius.
The gardens have drawn in a host of famous people
People from around the world have gone to visit the gorgeous endemic botanical garden in Mauritius such as members of royalty and world leaders, many of who actually planted their own trees there. Princess Margaret, Indira Gandhi, François Mitterrand and the much loved Nelson Mandela are just a few of the people who have been here.
Guided tours are offered
While you are able to make your way around the botanical garden in Mauritius yourself (you should definitely get a map at the ticket counter to make sure you don’t miss out on anything if you decide on this route), the best way to see it is with a guide. Guides can be hired at the entrance of the botanical garden and they will accompany you during your visit, clearly explaining the important sights, plants and history of this gorgeous attraction. The guide usually charges per person, but they are often able to speak a few different languages and have a deep knowledge of the botanical garden, which will ensure that you have a truly enriching experience.
The botanical gardens in Mauritius require enough time to explore them
This wonderful site is not really something you can see quickly—you should ideally put aside a good few hours to enjoy it fully. Take your time wandering through the gardens, embracing the tranquillity of these majestic gardens and taking pictures of the extraordinary, unique flowers and plants. You can also pack a small picnic and enjoy this is the most magical surrounds. In an idea world, you would have an entire day to explore this special site properly.
While you are in the area it’s also well worth visiting Pamplemousses and Mapou where you can discover an old colonial house and orchard as well as the sugar museum. It’s also well worth stopping off in the capital city of Port Louis.
These gardens are home to a plethora of unique plants
As you meander through the outstanding botanical garden in Mauritius, you will come across different types of plants, many of which produce nuts, spices and different fruits. But that’s not all, the beautiful garden holds a staggering 85 types of palm trees (which is one of the biggest attractions here) which were brought to Mauritius from all around the world. There are also incredible lily ponds (the giant water lily pond being a famous feature of the garden, the breathtaking lilies of which are called Victoria amazonica and came from the Amazon River basin), stunning lotus’ and over 650 different varieties of plants, which include unbelievable baobabs, medicinal plants and herbs, among many others.
It offers more than flora
Over and above the exceptional wealth of endemic and foreign plants in the botanical garden in Mauritius, beyond the stunning wrought iron gates of the garden, visitors can make the most of the botanical gardens by exploring the historical sites, such as the Paul et Virginie monument , the Château de Mon Plaisir (which has a small exhibit of photographs), several plaques and monuments, the Old Sugar Mill and more. The avenues in the garden have names that reflect the history of Mauritius.
Visitors can also find the giant tortoises in their enclosure which was started as a part of a conservation effort to ensure this beautiful species survives and there are about a dozen of these tortoises in the garden today. These magnificent creatures can traverse oceans by surfing the waves and stay adrift travelling for weeks at a time but by the 19th century, they were almost entirely extinct.
You can also spot an array of vibrant tropical birds flitting from tree to tree and a few of the deer and stags (which were originally introduced to the island by the Dutch settlers). Ducks roam the gardens and fish can be spotted in the ponds—this is a nature enthusiast’s absolute dream destination.
If you are looking to head to Mauritius to explore the magical offerings of this unique island, then take a look at the wonderful accommodation options at any of the four Mauritius Sun Resorts. These elegant four- and five-star resorts offer guests a wealth of dining options, signature experiences, activities and sublime accommodation along some of the most beautiful beaches in Mauritius.