‘Aller avec assistance!’ calls our guide, Laurent, with enthusiasm. And as we crank the assistance level on our bikes to maximum level 4, we pedal with the effort of a sloth but progress at the speed of Wiggins! This activity is for you – young, old, fit, unfit; the electrobike is a great ‘leveller’, you simply choose your own personal level of assistance.
When the temperatures are knocking on the door of 30-degrees and the humidity is high, a bike ride may be the last thing on your mind, especially if you are not a competent cyclist – but let us introduce you to a new, sociable and exciting way to see the hidden gems of south Mauritius.
What is the electrobike? So the bike itself looks like a bicycle, it pedals like a bicycle, it feels like a bicycle; it has gears, brakes and a standard cycle-style seat. What it also has, however, is a small electric motor which sits discreetly on the crossbar and is wired up to a mini digital display screen on your handlebar. You have a range from -4 to 0 to +4. At a 0-setting you travel under your own steam without any assistance or hindrance. Settings +1 to +4 give you wings! And settings -4 to 0 create drag.
Assistance What you will be interested in is the +1 to +4. Many riders will keep a +1 for most of the journey, even on the flat; this allows you to cycle without effort even if your fitness levels are low. Along the journey there will be hills (we are talking slight inclines not Mont Ventoux) and increasing your assistance to level 3 or 4 will propel you at super-hero speed without increasing your exertion. Trust us when we say this feels ‘epic’!
The journeys - Souillac There are currently a choice of three routes, we are looking at Souillac which includes coastal paths, farmland, village and a historic town. Situated in the extreme south of Mauritius, this is an area of hilly countryside, sugar cane fields, villages, national parks and dramatic cliffs. Hot days actually feel quite fresh when the wind is in your face which strangely does make it a perfect activity even in high heat.
Meet up You will likely begin your trip at ‘Place du Moulin’ in Bel Ombre.
Beauty This ever-changing journey is full of excitement, interest and of particularly beautiful scenery, glimpsed form vantage points that we would otherwise never reach. Cycling along little-used paths, close to the cliff edge revealed tiny coves and fishermen using traditional fishing methods. You can marvel at the peaceful, ancient marine cemetery that provided a final resting spot for all religions, signified only by the colour of the stone above them. Or stop to admire the ocean from the cliffs of Gris-Gris and the striking, Roche Qui Pleure (rock that cries). Keep your camera to hand.
Unwind The the impact of Mrs Mala’s hospitality leaves you totally replete and more in need of a sunbed than a bicycle. The finishing point is Riambel public beach where you are free to relax and swim before making your way back to your hotel. You will find that your driver has miraculously located you. If you do need to get back to the starting point then, along with the bikes that are loaded on the following vehicle, you can catch a lift.
Just do it! This is a great day out for so many reasons, it is sociable, wonderful for a family or a single, gentle, easy-going and most of all fun. You’ll have a natural breeze when you are moving, water and refreshments as well as lunch are supplied to just pack camera, sunglasses and swimmers, if you fancy a swim at the end. You don’t have to carry your bag – that can be left on the following vehicle – this is pretty much the Tour de France in terms of professionalism and a carousel in terms of effort. Marvellous!
Le Morne Brabant Trail:
You will be picked up from your hotel and brought to the “Slave Route” monument. From there, you will take a charming and winding little sandy path towards the picturesque fishing village of Le Morne. Our ride resumes in the direction of La Prairie, where you are served a well-deserved coconut water. Then, head towards Baie du Cap, an authentic fishing village where you will stop to view a monument erected in the name of Captain Flinders. The route continues towards the Baie du Cap beach, where you will take a break to taste the famous ‘rotis’ made by the locals of the fishing village while enjoying a fresh local juice. The ride ends at the “Place du Moulin” in Bel Ombre, an old sugar mill.
The ride begins in the mountains at “Le Chamarel” restaurant with a tasting of local coffee, while enjoying a spectacular panoramic view. You will then cycle to the Saint Anne chapel where you will visit several historical landmarks before going to the waterfall and the Seven Coloured Earths of Chamarel. Then, head over to “La Vieille Cheminée” (Old Chimney), an old sugar factory in the area, before descending the small Fantasy Mountain, peaking at 240 m (yes, we are going downhill!). You will then head in the direction of the charming fishermen village of Baie du Cap to pick up some local specialty snacks before reaching the shipwrecked Australian commemorative monument. The excursion finishes at the “Place du Moulin” in Bel Ombre, where you can enjoy a stroll.
The ride starts off at the “Place du Moulin” in Bel Ombre, then heads off in the direction of the Bay of Jakotet, followed by the village of Rivière des Galets. You then admire the breath-taking waterfalls of Rochester Falls where some time is allowed to relax and enjoy a snack. From there, discover the Batellage of Grande Rivière Sud-Est, the ancient port of Souillac, where the renovated dock serves as a jetty for the fishermen’s pirogues. Afterwards, take a ride towards the Saint-Jacques church, one the oldest of the island. From there, you will move on to the lovely Telfair Garden, home to banyan trees, almond trees and a variety of other palm trees. Thereafter, head to the colonial judiciary and the old train station. In “La Nef”, former home of the poet R. E. Hart, you will admire the cliffs of Gris-Gris, and then ride in the direction of “La Roche Qui Pleure”. On your return trip, stop over at Mrs. Sibylle, a bubbly woman, to taste her local dishes. To finish off the ride, you will visit the late Robert Edward Hart at the marine cemetery before returning to the Riambel public beach for a relaxing time on the white sandy beaches or in the gorgeous waters of the lagoon...