Imagine visiting Mauritius five centuries ago, you would be walking on a coastal forest and maybe even meet the Dodo! Unfortunately, while the Dodo is extinct, you can still experience this piece of history on the Ile Aux Aigrettes Island. The island was declared as a nature reserve in 1965 and an ecotourism project was launched by the Mauritian Wildlife Fund in 1985 to protect and conserve the remaining flora and fauna. The island is a coralline island unlike the volcanic island of Mauritius. Thanks to the conservation effort, you can experience the island just like it was centuries ago.
About Ile Aux Aigrettes Island
Here’s few things that you absolutely must keep in mind before you visit Ile Aux Aigrettes Island in Mauritius to get the most out of your time at this incredibly charming place.
Ile Aux Aigrettes entrance fee:
Adult: INR 1699/-
Child (4-11 years): INR 849/-
Child (1-4): Free of charge
How to reach Ile Aux Aigrettes Island: The Ile Aux Aigrettes Island – visit & tour is done only by boat and at specific timings. The Ile Aux Aigrettes location is off the coast of Mahebourg and it takes about ten minutes to reach the island from the starting point at Pointe Jerome.
Boat departure timings:
Monday – Saturday: 9:30 AM, 10 AM, 10:30 AM, 1:30 PM, 2 PM, 2:30 PM
Sunday: 9:30 AM, 10 AM, 10:30 AM
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If you look at the Ile Aux Aigrettes Island map, it is only 27 hectares and one might even wonder how it can have any significance on the ecology at all. However, the island is an experiment in progress and a conservation program to restore the natural wealth of the Mauritian islands. The aim of the authorities is to create an island ecology that was similar to before it was plundered and destroyed by the colonial settlers. Today, several species of animals and plants are protected on the island and their numbers have risen thanks to the efforts of the government and the people.
Things To Do
When you visit Ile Aux Aigrettes Island in Mauritius, you are signing up for an interesting lesson in nature. The entire island is an ecotourism project and there are several activities that will bring you closer to the flora and fauna of the island.
The island of Ile Aux Aigrettes is just off the coast of Mahebourg and as you get on to the boat you can watch the pretty harbour of Mahebourg in all its glory. The boats, sea birds and coast looks really beautiful from the ocean. The island looks like an emerald popping out of the sea. Reserve a seat in the boat early so you can catch the sunrise.
2. Guided Tour Of The Forest
The guided tour is a walk through the trails on the island and is one of the most sought after
things to do in Mauritius. The walk takes almost 1.5 hours and takes you through all the important spots on the island where you can sight various animals and enjoy the shade of the indigenous forest where more than 18 species are endemic or rare. Wear proper trekking shoes and buy a walking pole, though the latter is not mandatory.
3. Wildlife Photography
The Ile Aux Aigrettes Island in Mauritius is well known for its endemic and special species of birds and animals. You will get ample time to spot and photograph the birds like Pink pigeon, and Mauritius Fody, these are endangered species and you never know if you can sight these pretty birds ever again! Remember to take your binoculars along or buy them at one of the shopping centres.
4. Wildlife Museum
The Ile Aux Aigrettes (Egret Island) has a wonderful nature museum dedicated to the Mauritian ecology. Here you can see life-size bronze sculptures and paintings of the various plants and animals that live and used to live on the island. You can learn and appreciate the rarity of these flora and fauna at the museum. Take some time out to visit this beautiful museum.
5. Plant Nursery
The island has an indigenous plants nursery that raises saplings of the native plants of Mauritius and grows them on the island. The nursery also provides plants to be redistributed on the other Mascarene Islands, ensuring their longevity in the wild. You can buy exotic plants from the nursery.
Ile Aux Aigrettes Island Fauna
The Ile Aux Aigrettes animals are mostly endangered and endemic which means that they are not found anywhere else. The extinct Dodo also used to live on this island till it was driven to extinction and you can even see a statue of the Dodo in the conservation area on the island. Here are some of the most common and interesting animals that you can spot on the island.
1. Pink Pigeon
This pretty species of Pigeon is native to Mauritius and is the only species that has not gone extinct! The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation takes extreme care in ensuring they are protected. There are about 500 birds you can sight in the wild and you can try to spot them on your visit.
2. Mauritius Fody
The Mauritius Fody is a cute little bird with a bright orange head and green body. The bird is endemic to the island and also endangered. It is a weaver bird and if you are there during the mating season you can see their nest hanging off the branches.
3. Telfair’s Skink
The purpose of Ile Aux Aigrettes ecotourism is to educate and use the funds towards protection of rare species. One of such protected species is the Telfrair’s Skink, a small reptile that is endemic to the Mascarene Islands.
4. Ornate Day Geckos
The geckos are like lizards but bright coloured and beautiful, hence their name ‘ornate’. The geckos can be easily found on the island and are vital to its ecology.
5. Aldabra Giant Tortoise
The tortoise is an introduced species which means it did not originate on the island. It was introduced to take the spot of an extinct tortoise species. Today, you can spot them ambling away and dispersing seeds throughout the island and playing an important role in the ecology.
Tips For Visiting Ile Aux Aigrettes Island
Here’s a few tips that you absolutely must not miss out on reading before you visit Ile Aux Aigrettes to make wonderful memories that will last you a lifetime.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes for a visit as you will be walking on forest trails and uneven land.
- Carry a bottle of water, sunscreen and cap or protective wear from the sun as it can get very hot during the day time.
- The island is a wild area and the island tour is only for visitors to appreciate the wildlife. Be respectful of all the animals and don’t feed them. Also, if you wish to sight the birds then keep your volume to the minimum as they scare easily!
Plan a trip to Mauritius and walk through the indigenous forests of Ile Aux Aigrettes Island. While you’re here, don’t forget to sight birds and animals native to the country. Let’s keep making memories on the go.
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