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Other Country Information and useful tips

Mauritius: A to Z guide

Arrival

Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport is the only airport in Mauritius. There is no airport hotel. On the plane, you may receive an international disembarkation card to complete. It is essential that you state your visiting address in Mauritius. The airport is friendly, clean and efficient. When arriving at the airport you need to go through customs, collect your luggage and leave through the exit door, as there is no passenger greeting area inside the building. The national airline is Air Mauritius. Air Mauritius operates a well-maintained relatively new fleet with an excellent safety record. It is advisable to compare prices with other airlines when travelling to Mauritius. A number of international carriers serve Mauritius: British Airways, Condor, Corsairfly, Emirates, South African Airlines, Air France, Air Austral, Air Madagascar, Air Seychelles, among others. Mauritius is well connected to most major cities of the world across all continents and there is bound to be either a daily direct flight or a connected one.

Bringing pets to Mauritius

If you are considering bringing your pet(s) to Mauritius, you have to apply for a permit at the Division of Veterinary Services. Strict regulations are in place to ensure that Mauritius stays rabies free. Imported animals have to comply with all standards set by the Mauritian government.

Useful contact:
Ministry of Agro-Industry & Fisheries
Division of Veterinary Services
Reduit
Mauritius
Tel + 230 454 1016

The Division of Veterinary Services will provide you all the necessary documentation for the importation of your pet and you will also be able to view the quarantine facilities. Quarantine period varies between one and six months depending of country of origin of the pet.
To import your pet to Mauritius you have to:
• familiarize yourself with any export regulations of the country in which you currently reside
• familiarize yourself with the import regulations for pets in Mauritius by contacting or visiting the Ministry of Agro-Industry & Fisheries
• obtain an import permit from the Chief Veterinary Officer, Ministry of Agro-Industry & Fisheries
• receive a health clearance certificate from a registered veterinary in the country of residence prior to arrival
• have a clearing agent in Mauritius
• send a letter to the Ministry of Agro-Industry & Fisheries informing them of the arrival of your pet.

Upon arriving on the island, your pet will be met by yourself (to identify it), your clearing agent and an official from the Government authority. Your pet will then be transported directly to the quarantine facilities where it will stay for the required period, at your expense. You will be able to visit your pet daily while it is in quarantine.
Please note there is a restriction, until further notice, on the following breeds of dog entering Mauritius: Fila Braziliero, Japanese Tosa, Pitbull Terrier, American Pitbull and Dogo Argentino.

Buying Immovable Property in Mauritius

Real Estate transactions by foreign nationals are regulated in Mauritius. Foreigners cannot therefore buy residential property freely on the open market. For private residential properties, foreign nationals have only two options: The Integrated Resorts Scheme and the Real Estate Scheme. Foreign nationals are not allowed to acquire residential properties outside these two schemes. Further information can be obtained from the Board of Investment (www.investmauritius.com).
Climate
The temperature on the coastal areas varies between 22°C in winter and 33°C in summer. In the central part of the island, the maximum daytime temperature varies from about 19°C in August to about 26°C in February. The western and northern regions are warmer and relatively drier than the East and the South.

Cooking gas (LPG)

LPG gas is sold in cylinders across the island. The gas companies are Shell and Total.
Currency
The local currency is the Mauritian rupee (MUR), where Rs 1.00 = 100 cents. The Mauritian currency is available in both coins and notes. All the banks, major hotels and exchange bureaus provide facilities to exchange traveller’s cheques and foreign currency. Banks and exchange bureaus are in the exit area of the airport building. You don’t have to exchange your money at the airport, as there are banks and money changers in all the major towns and coastal villages.
Coins: 5c, 20c, 50c , 1 MRU , 5 MRU and 10 MRU
Notes: 25 MRU, 50 MRU, 100 MRU, 200 MRU, 500 MRU, 1000 MRU and 2000 MRU.
Foreign currency notes, drafts and travellers’ cheques may be carried to Mauritius without restriction.

Customs

A plant import permit must be obtained from the Ministry of Agro-industry (http://agroindustry.gov.mu), prior to the introduction of plants and plant material including cuttings, flowers, bulbs, fresh fruits, vegetables and seeds. It is prohibited to introduce sugarcane and parts thereof, soil micro-organisms and invertebrate animals. All imported animals including animal products need an import permit from the Ministry of Agro-industry and a health certificate from the country of origin. (Please refer to Pet Import section below). Drug trafficking is illegal and carries very heavy penalties. Firearms and ammunition need import permits and must be declared on arrival.

Dress code

In general, casual clothing is acceptable for everyday activities. If you have to attend a function, it is best to get recommendations from your hosts. Most hotels have their own dress code. When visiting religious places you should wear appropriate clothing. Nudism and topless sunbathing are not allowed on public beaches. Some hotels will allow topless sunbathing.

Eating Out

Mauritius has a wide choice of gourmet restaurants, serving exquisite local Creole food to a wide mix of fine international cuisine. They are generally competitively priced and the most reputable ones can get pretty packed at times. It is advisable to make a booking.

Electricity

Mauritius provides a stable and reliable electric supply all over the island at 220 volts, 50 Hz. The sole electricity company is the Central Electricity Board. Electricity is produced mainly from imported diesel oil, hydro power and sugarcane bagasse.

Emergency Services

Police: 999
Fire: 995
SAMU (govt emergency ambulance): 114

Golf

Mauritius boasts a few professionally designed 18-hole golf courses with stunning views over the lagoon. Several golf clubs offer annual memberships. Many of the islands properties offered to non-nationals under the so-called Integrated Resort Scheme are built on golf estates.

Government system

Mauritius is a democratic state based on the Westminster model and enjoys political stability. The head of state is the President and the Prime Minister heads the government and a Council of Ministers. Free elections are held every five years.

Literacy rate

Mauritius has got a dynamic and educated population, with a literacy rate of 83%. The level of secondary and tertiary enrolment is very high. Most Mauritians travel abroad (mainly UK, Australia, France, Canada and India) for higher education. A number of tertiary education institutions exist on the island.

Newspapers

Mauritius has got a range of newspapers, dailies and weeklies, in English and French. International newspapers are also available at selected newsagents/supermarkets/bookshops. The Defi Media Group is a major news group providing news online (www.defimedia.info).

Post Office
The postal service is operated by Mauritius Post Ltd, a government owned company. Mauritius Post has branches throughout the island. Most post offices provide international parcel service.

Public Holidays

There are about 13 public holidays every year. Seven of them are fixed holidays: New Year January 1st & 2nd, Abolishment of Slavery 1st February, Independence Day 12th March, Labour Day 1st May, Commemoration of arrival of Indentured labourers 2nd November and Christmas 25th December. The remaining public holidays are religious festivals whose dates vary from year to year.

Safety tips

In general, crime in Mauritius is less prevalent compared to many cities of the World. However, foreigners should beware of petty thefts like pick pocketing, especially in crowded areas.

The following are essential pieces of advice:
• Keep an eye on all personal belongings at all times
• Be careful when withdrawing money from an ATM at night
• Avoid wearing expensive jewellery
• Do not leave anything inside your parked car as this may attract thieves
• Use only licensed taxis (recognized by Taxi sign on roof)
• Keep your passports, plane tickets, jewellery of value and large sums of money in safe custody
• For sea excursions, do not rent boats with inadequate security standards
• During individual sea trips, always notify the person responsible for the boat house
• Do not go swimming in areas where it is forbidden (Look out for DANGEROUS BATHING signs)
• Whilst it is safe to venture out at night, it is advisable to avoid poorly lit areas and isolated places.

Sega

The sega is a very popular dance of Mauritius. Introduced by Africans during the French colonial period, the sega is an exotic dance. Women in colorful skirts twirl and undulate, using graceful hand and arm motions while their feet shuffle along the ground. The dance is backed by a group of drummers and other instrumentalists. Singing is in Creole language. In more recent times, sega music has been influenced by reggae, creating a fusion music locally known as seggae.

Fast Food & Restaurants

Whilst international brand names such as Mc Donalds, KFC, Nando’s, Pizza Hut, Debonair, etc can be found in most shopping centres, local restaurants also offer the Mauritian cuisine which is a unique mix of French, British, Indian, Chinese and Creole culinary and cooking traditions, making it full of history and knowledge. Other restaurants specialising in Indian, Chinese, Continental, Japanese, Mexican or Italian cuisine can be found on the island.

Smoking

Smoking in public areas is prohibited under recently introduced legislation. All government offices and a majority of private sector offices are non smoking areas.

Taxation

There is a single tax rate in Mauritius for both personal income tax and corporate tax: 15%. VAT is also at 15%. Certain goods are VAT exempt. The Mauritius Revenue Authority is the sole tax office in Mauritius (http://mra.gov.mu)

Telecommunications and TV/Radio Channels

Mauritius Telecom (Orange) is the main telecommunication company offering various services including fixed telephone line, mobile and broadband internet. Other companies are Emtel and MTML. The country offers international direct dialling as well as broadband internet connections. Satellite TV and local TV & Radio are available all over the island. The Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation, government owned, is the sole TV Company that also runs radio stations. There are three private radio stations, Radio Plus, Radio One and Top FM.

Travel

Bus service

The most common way of transport for Mauritians is the bus service. Bus is a quite easy way of transport in the island but not as comfortable as in Europe. There are a few bus transport companies which serve the whole island. The two main companies are National Transport Corporation (government owned) and the united Bus Service Ltd (private owned). The northern coastal region is served mostly by the Triolet Bus Service Ltd. Other routes are served by various private operators. There is no bus time table displayed anywhere but on most routes, buses run every 10 minutes on average. Buses may not stop unless you wave to them. A bus conductor collects fares and issues a receipt. It is important that you have change when travelling in buses. It is not rare to find buses carrying a lot of standing passengers, much to the discomfort of everyone. Students are entitled to free travel if they hold a Student Pass delivered by their institution. Please note that the free travel applies only on the route from their place of residence to their school and back. Any other travel may not be free.

Taxi

Taxis are the quickest way of travelling if you haven’t rented or purchased a car. Taxis are available everywhere, from the airport exit to hotels, shopping centres, towns and villages. The taxis in Mauritius are mostly sedan cars similar to private cars, with a yellow sticker on both front doors with the name of their base of operation and taxi licence number displayed, and a small yellow taxi sign on the roof making them easy to spot. There is no taximeter. Fares have to be negotiated before travel. It is likely that some taxis charge a much higher fare simply because you are a foreigner, so it is advisable to always bargain. Avoid getting in private cars plying illegally as taxi.

Car rentals

A number of rental agencies are available on the island, both private and internationally recognized brand names. Road maps are not widely available or up to date, so it may take you some time to get orientated but once you get used to it, you can travel safely around the island. People are always happyto provide directions when approached. Whilst the country has a good network of roads, not all of them are in a good condition.

Water

Tap water in Mauritius is safe to drink. Bottled water is available everywhere. The two major brands on the island are Vital and Crystal. The sole water supply company is the government owned Central Water Authority. During drought period, water supply may be restricted to a few hours per day. Most houses are equipped with domestic water tank to ensure 24hr water supply.

Working Hours

Public Sector: Monday to Friday: 9 am – 4 pm; Saturday: 9 am – noon (Reduced service).
Private Sector: Monday to Friday: 8.30 am – 4.30 pm; Saturday: 9am – noon (Some offices)

Recreation and leisure
Places of Interest

Pamplemousses Botanical Gardens

The garden was created by Pierre Poivre in 1767 in the Estate of the French Governor Mahe de Labourdonnais. The latter’s Chateau de Mon Plaisir, built in 1735, can still be seen there. An entrance fee applies during weekdays and Saturday. Entrance is free on Sunday.

Coloured Earths of Chamarel

Among the oddest sites of the island are the seven-coloured dunes at Chamarel, believed to result from the weathering of volcanic rocks.

The Bird Garden of Casela

The main attraction of this bird park on the West Coast is the Mauritian Pink Pigeon, one of the rarest birds in the world, still fighting to avoid the fate of the dodo. One of the giant tortoises is 150 years old.

Ile aux Cerfs

There are no stags (cerfs) remaining on this small island which houses Le Touessrok Sun Hotel but this small island off the east coast attracts large numbers of holiday-makers.

Domaine Les Pailles

At ten minutes south of Port-Louis lies the nature park of Domaine Les Pailles, stretching over 3,000 acres at the foot of the Moka mountain range. It has several attractions such as mountain ride, an 18th century ox-driven Sugar Mill which still produces the tropical cane sugar, a 1758 rhum distillery, among others.

Trou aux Cerfs

Possibly the main attraction of Curepipe for tourists, apart from the shopping, is the Trou aux Cerfs crater. It’s been extinct for a long time and the crater floor is now heavily wooded, but the crater affords lovely views around the island.

Black River Gorges (National Park)

The Black River Gorge is the largest national park in Mauritius. Famous for its waterfalls, vistas and hiking, the gorge is in the central highlands, making it cooler than much of the island.

Rochester Falls

Rochester Falls is a waterfall on the Savanne River. It is located near Souillac village in the South. It is famous for the strange rectangular form of its rocky flank. The falls tumble from the Savanne River from a height of about 10m (33ft) where constant erosion has fashioned the basalt rock into upright columns. Youngsters often perform dare-devil dives into the water below.

Mauritius Aquarium

The aquarium, located in at Pointe aux Piments village in the North West of Mauritius, is home to a large number of species including over 200 species of fish, invertebrates, live coral and sponges, originating from the waters around the island.

La Vanille Crocodile Park

The “Vanille Réserve des Mascareignes” nature park is located in the South of Mauritius. It has the largest number of tortoises reared in the world including 1000 tortoises, 2000 crocodiles, 23 000 butterfly and insects species in our insectarium, monkeys, iguanas and deers.

Water Park & Leisure Village

The Waterpark and Leisure Village is located near Belle Mare public beach in the East of Mauritius. It features various amusement rides that provide sensational moments to all.

Shopping

Shopping hours in the main towns range from 9.30 am to 5.00 pm or 7.30 pm, Monday through Saturday. Some shops are open till noon on Sundays and public holidays. The island’s many duty free shops and modern shopping centres offer a wide choice of products. Many of the smaller shops in Rose-Hill, Curepipe and Quatre-Bornes are closed on Thursday afternoons. There are several shopping centres including hypermarkets and supermarkets across the country: The Super U Complex in Grand Bay and Belle Rose, the Shoprite Complex in Trianon, the Jumbo Commercial centre in Riche Terre and Phoenix, The Phoenix Les Halles Shopping Centre in Phoenix, the Ebene Commercial centre in Ebene, the Helvetia Shopping Centre in St Pierre, the Caudan Waterfront in Port Louis, the Ruisseau Creole Shopping Centre in Black River, among others. Several shopping mall have recently cropped up across the island: Bagatelle Mall of Mauritius near Moka/Reduit, Flacq Shopping Mall in the East, Mon CHoisy Promenade and Grand Bay La Croisette at Grand Bay in the North. There are many street markets in all towns and large villages that offer interesting products at very affordable prices. Some local markets are dedicated specifically to textile products. Other shopping venues include the Port Louis central market and craft market. There are is a range of factory outlets ideal for cheap textile shopping. In such shops products are sold directly from the factories.

Some shopping centres

Grand Baie

Sunset Boulevard, Le Mauricia Shopping Centre, Le Dodo Square, Super U, Grand Baie Bazaar

Port Louis

Le Caudan Waterfront, Port Louis Waterfront, Central market, Chinatown, Happy World House, Medine Mews, Air Mauritius Centre

Ebene Cybercity

Ebene Commercial Centre

Bagatelle, Mt Ory
Bagatelle Shopping Mall

Quatre Bornes

Orchard Tower, Quatre Bornes market, Georgetown complex, St Jean Road.

Curepipe/ Floréal

Garden Shopping Village, Pushkaar, Arcades Salaffa, Cosmos.

Black River

Ruisseau Creole, Nautica, Pasadena.

Nightlife

Mauritius has various nightclubs, bars and pubs that make up the night life of the island. Most of the bars are open every night but the nightclubs work at their best on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The best place to enjoy the tropical feel in the evening is Grand Bay. The bars and nightclubs next to each other along the north coast are licensed for your entertainment and chill out moments.

Beaches and water sports

Mauritius is famous for its endless white sandy beaches, the turquoise blue lagoons and the clean nice warm seawater. Public beaches are very crowded during weekends and mostly deserted during week days. The best beaches are found in the north and the west of the island. Most beaches on the south of the island are for sightseeing only and not for swimming as it can be dangerous because the sea is very rough there.
North coast
Mont Choisy, La Cuvette (Grand Bay), Pereybere, Balaclava, Anse La Raie, Grand Gaube.

East coast

Palmar, Belle Mare, Trou d’Eau Douce

South coast

Blue Bay, St Felix, Bel Ombre

South coast (not for swimming)

Gris Gris, Souillac

West coast

Albion, Flic en Flac, Tamarin, La Preneuse, Le Morne,

Deep sea fishing

Mauritius is a paradise for deep sea fishing. Species include the blue or black marlin, all types of sharks, yellow tuna, the Bonitos, the ‘emperor’, the ‘pélerin’, the ‘bécune’ or the barracuda. Huge fishes like the Blue Marlin roam our seas and hunt around the island from November to April, and very often until May.

Snorkeling

Mauritius being blessed with unspoiled lagoons, one may snorkel for days on end and still only discover a small percentage of the undersea life. Discover snorkeling by going out on your own or with an experienced guide on a sailboat. Alternatively, the Blue Bay Marine Park presents yet another opportunity to snorkel among some of the most beautiful coral formations in Mauritius, currently classified as a protected reserve.

Kitesurfing

Mauritius is renowned among kite-surfing enthusiasts for its quality and variety of kite-surfing locations. These range from Anse la Raie and Cap Malheureux in the north to Poste Lafayette and Belle Mare in the east, and Pointe d’Esny near Blue Bay in the south. Arguably, one of the very best places to do a spot of kite-surfing is Le Morne on the west coast, which is renowned for its blustery shoreline.

Useful Numbers and web links
Police (emergency) 999
Ambulance 114
Fire 115
Police (information) +230 208 1212
Phone directory enquiry 150

Yellow Pages www.teleservices.mu
Government Portal www.gov.mu
Immigration Office http://pio.gov.mu
Police Department http://police.gov.mu
Restaurants www.restaurants.mu
Hotels in Mauritius www.mauritiustourism.org
Tax office/Customs Dept http://mra.gov.mu
Board of Investment www.investmauritius.com
Immigration Office http://passport.gov.mu
Tertiary Education Commission http://www.tec.mu
Mauritius Qualifications Authority http://www.mqa.mu