Black River Gorges National Park : The Definitive Guide

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How to visit the Black River Gorges National Park

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

And rightfully so!

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

By visiting the largest nature reserve in the country, you will discover all the beauty of the Mauritian tropical forest, its unique fauna and flora, rivers, waterfalls, and majestic panoramas.

Spread over more than 6700 hectares, Black River Gorges National Park is home to numerous hiking trails winding through the native forest.

The park is so vast and accessible from several points that it can be difficult to find your way if you are not familiar with it.

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

Here you’ll find all the things to do and see in Black River Gorges National Park, the list of hiking trails, practical information you need to know, as well as my tips to avoid any unpleasant surprises!

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

I’ll explain everything to you!

History of Black River Gorges National Park

Let me give you a quick contextual setup to start, so you can learn more about the place you’re about to discover!

Black River Gorges National Park is a protected forest reserve covering 6754 hectares. It’s the largest nature reserve on Mauritius!

Located in the southwest of the island, inland, in a mountainous region, this forest was declared a protected national park in 1994.

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

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

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

The Black River Gorges National Park is therefore an important biodiversity reservoir in Mauritius, as well as a recreational area enjoyed by locals and visitors from all over the world.

Black River Gorges
Black River Gorges

What to Do and See in Black River Gorges National Park?

1. The Guided Tour

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

The park is so huge that it can be complicated to know which trail to choose and what to look for when you’re not familiar with the place

Accompanied by a passionate professional guide who knows the reserve inside out, you will be able to explore the park while benefiting from their knowledge of the local ecosystem, wildlife, and flora.

Your guide will take you to the most beautiful spots in the reserve to show you incredible panoramas, waterfalls, and other natural wonders.

They will also help you spot the endemic birds, monkeys, and giant bats with your own eyes!

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

To book your guided tour in Black River Gorges, simply click the button below:

My Advice

This guided hike is a very popular outing so I advise you to book as early as possible to ensure availability for your dates!

My Advice

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

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

  • the sacred lake of Grand Bassin
  • the volcanic crater of Trou aux Cerfs
  • Alexandra Falls
  • the Seven Coloured Earths and the waterfall of Chamarel
  • Black River Gorges National Park

This excursion includes hotel pick-up and drop-off, travel between each site, explanations from the guide, as well as food and drinks.

It’s really the perfect option to get a good overview of all the southwest of Mauritius, including Black River Gorges, while making the most of your time.

For more information on this guided tour and to book your spot, it’s very simple, just click below:

2. Black River Gorges National Park: Hiking

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

The park is crisscrossed by 60km of footpaths of various lengths and levels of difficulty.

These marked trails delve into the heart of the Mauritian tropical forest and feature waterfalls and stunning panoramas of the gorges and the sea.

You will journey through a lush forest alive with the songs of birds, the flight of bats, and the sound of rivers and waterfalls that traverse it.

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

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

  • “Gorges View Points” Trail: duration 2h30 – difficulty easy
  • “Macchabée Viewpoint – Colophanes Trail” route: duration 4h30 – difficulty moderate
  • Mare aux Joncs Waterfall: duration 3h – difficulty moderate
  • “Macchabée Forest Loop” Trail: duration 3h – difficulty moderate
  • Mare Longue Loop: duration 4h – difficulty moderate
  • Parakeet Trail: duration 7h30 – difficulty hard
  • Piton Savane route: duration 2h30 – difficulty moderate
  • climb of Mount Cocotte: duration 2h – difficulty moderate
  • Piton de la Petite Rivière Noire route: duration 3h – difficulty moderate

If you only have time for one hike and can’t decide which trail to choose, I recommend the Macchabée Viewpoint trail or the Macchabée Forest Loop.

They are among the more accessible (even if it’s quite a climb!), they’re not too long and provide an excellent overview of the reserve.

My Advice

Regarding the climb of Piton de la Petite Rivière Noire (which is the highest mountain in Mauritius!), you should hire a guide!

The trail is not very well marked and is quite steep at places, so getting a professional guide will ensure you reach the peak safely.

Additionally, you’ll benefit from their commentaries and explanations about the landscapes, fauna, and flora you’ll encounter!

The ascent takes between 3 to 4 hours round trip and your professional guide will have prepared drinks and snacks for you. At the end of the route, you’ll be able to enjoy a spectacular panorama at the summit.

Book this guided hike without delay by clicking below:

Sea view from Black River Gorges National Park
Panoramic view from Black River Gorges National Park

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

Black River Gorges National Park is home to numerous species of endemic plants and animals. This means you won’t be able to see these species anywhere else in the world!

Most are rare species, having narrowly escaped extinction, or remain threatened.

The reserve is particularly known for being a refuge for 9 endemic bird species of Mauritius, which you might be lucky enough to spot during your visit:

  • the Gros Cateau Vert (also known as the Mauritius Parakeet)
  • the Mauritius Kestrel
  • the Pink Pigeon
  • the Grey White-eye
  • the Mauritius Bulbul
  • the Coq des Bois (also called Tchitrek)
  • the Mauritius Cuckooshrike
  • the Glass-eyed Bird
  • the Mauritius Fody (also known as Mauritius Cardinal)

While walking in the park, stay alert and look into the vegetation: you might catch a glimpse of the stunning Blue-tailed Day Gecko, an endemic reptile of Mauritius hiding among the leaves and on tree trunks.

Strolling through the reserve will also give you a chance to see Black Flying Foxes (the famous “flying foxes”) hanging in trees or flying over the gorges.

And if you’re wondering where to see monkeys in Mauritius, you’re likely to encounter them in Black River Gorges National Park!

The monkeys are very common in the forest but also at the park’s entrance, especially near the picnic tables where they watch for leftovers from visitors.

My Advice

The Black Flying Fox, this large frugivorous bat, is the only endemic mammal of Mauritius.

Others (monkeys, deer, wild pigs, mongooses, tenrecs…) are not native to Mauritius but were introduced by humans.

Mauritius gecko
Gecko of Mauritius

In Black River Gorges, you’ll also have the opportunity to see many indigenous and endemic plants, among the rarest in the world, such as:

  • Ebenier (Ebony)
  • Bois d’Olive (Olive Wood)
  • Latanier bleu (Blue Latan Palm)
  • Tambalacoque (a.k.a. “Dodo Tree”)
  • Trochetia
  • and many others!

My Advice

To ensure you don’t miss out on all these species during your exploration of the park, the best way is to be accompanied by a professional guide!

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article: it’s the best way to visit the park, especially if it’s your first time there!

If you haven’t yet booked your guided tour in the Black River Gorges National Park, here is the booking link again:

How to Get to Black River Gorges National Park?

The Black River Gorges National Park spans a large part of the southwest of Mauritius. There are 2 main entrances to access it:

  • West Access, via the Royal Road of Black River towards the “Black River Visitor Centre“. This entrance is 30min from Flic-en-Flac, 15min from Tamarin, and 25min from Chamarel.
  • East Access via Pétrin, near the “Pétrin Information Centre“. This entrance is located 3min from Grand Bassin.

Further south, there are also 2 other lesser-known entries:

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

Depending on which hike you want to do, you will need to choose one of these entrances. To save you time, I’ve listed them below:

Trails accessible from the West entrance (via Black River):

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

Trails accessible from the Pétrin entrance (near Grand Bassin):

  • “Macchabée Forest Loop” Trail
  • Mare Longue Loop

Trails accessible from Chamarel:

  • Piton de la Petite Rivière Noire route
  • Piton Savane route
  • Parakeet Trail
  • climb of Mount Cocotte

Visiting Black River Gorges: Practical Information

Black River Gorges Park: Prices

Entrance to the park is free of charge! No fees to worry about (except for the guide if you opt for the guided hike).

Days and Opening Hours

At the two information centers (Black River and Pétrin), the park is enclosed and closed with a gate. It’s open all week from 7 am to 5 pm, and on weekends from 9 am to 5 pm.

My Advice

There have been several instances where hikers have returned from their excursion too late and ended up being stuck inside the park for the night!

So make sure to plan enough time to get back to the parking lot before closing time.

When to Visit Black River Gorges?

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

However, try to avoid going on days with heavy rain as the trails can be slippery and dangerous.

In my opinion, the best time to hike in the park is between April and October, during the dry season when the heat isn’t too intense.

What to Prepare

Before setting out on your excursion in the park, make sure you have everything you need to protect yourself from the sun, mosquitoes, to eat, and to be comfortable in your clothing.

Here is a list of essential gear to bring with you:

  • good hiking shoes, non-slip and waterproof
  • plenty of water
  • mosquito repellent
  • sunscreen
  • a hat or cap
  • something to eat
  • a first aid kit
  • a sweater or jacket (it can get chilly in the highlands!)
  • a bag for trash
  • a towel if you plan on swimming in the rivers

Additional information you should know:

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

Fires and cigarettes are prohibited, and of course, you must respect the wildlife by keeping noise to a minimum.

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

What to See Around Black River Gorges?

Before or after your visit to Black River Gorges National Park, you may want to explore the surrounding area. The park is located in a region rich in natural sites and tourist attractions.

Here is a list of the main points of interest to see around the area.

1. Grand Bassin

If you pass through the East entrance of the park (access via the Pétrin Information Centre), you’ll be very close to the sacred lake of Grand Bassin, an essential visit during your stay in Mauritius.

This place of worship and pilgrimage for the Hindus of the island is also known as “Ganga Talao“.

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

Here, you can visit numerous temples that line the lake’s perimeter, observe rituals and religious ceremonies, and appreciate the tranquility and mystical atmosphere of the place.

My Advice

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

Grand Bassin Mauritius
The sacred lake of Grand Bassin

2. Flic-en-Flac

On the West side of Black River Gorges Park (via the Black River Visitors Centre), you’ll be close to the beaches and the seaside resort of Flic-en-Flac.

Flic-en-Flac is a small coastal town very popular with tourists, known for its large white sandy beach fringed by filaos trees.

There are also plenty of shops, restaurants, luxury hotels, and nightclubs.

It’s a landmark of the country, not to be missed during your tour of Mauritius.

So, take the opportunity to spend a day on this beautiful beach, do some scuba diving and partake in many other activities while you’re in the southwest.

My Advice

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 explore near Black River Gorges: Black River and Tamarin, two consecutive towns located about 20 minutes from the park entrance.

Here you can:

  • enjoy the lovely La Preneuse Beach
  • do some shopping at the quaint Ruisseau Créole shopping center
  • dine in one of the nice restaurants in the area
  • go scuba diving
  • embark on a boat trip!

The bay of Tamarin is famous for the richness of its marine life and for the presence of dolphins and large sea mammals like whales and sperm whales!

You can already book your whale watching and dolphin swimming tour by clicking on the button below:

4. The Tamarind Falls

On the East side of the park, via Pétrin, you’ll find another exceptional natural site that is a must-see during your holiday in Mauritius.

I’m referring to the Tamarind Falls (also known as “7 Cascades”).

It’s only a 15-minute drive from the Pétrin Information Centre to get there.

At this location, you can embark on one of the most beautiful hikes on the island, along a river marked by seven stunning successive waterfalls.

However, it is essential to hire a professional guide for this excursion as the path is not marked at all.

And I have just the thing for you! Book your guided hike to the Tamarind Waterfalls by clicking on this button:

7 waterfalls Tamarin
The Seven Waterfalls in the southwest of Mauritius

5. Chamarel

Chamarel is definitely a must-visit in the vicinity of the Black River Gorges National Park.

This quaint little village is home to an incredible and famous natural curiosity: the Seven Coloured Earths.

In Chamarel you’ll also find the Ebony Forest Reserve, a magnificent distillery worth visiting (the Chamarel Distillery), a super fun museum, and much more.

I give you all the information you need about things to see and do in Chamarel in my complete guide, which you can read right here: Visiting Chamarel – The Ultimate Guide

Chamarel Seven Coloured Earths Mauritius
The Seven Coloured Earths – Chamarel

Travel Insurance for Mauritius: My Advice

My Advice

Many travelers mistakenly think that healthcare in Mauritius is affordable and they don’t need travel insurance. But in reality, the public healthcare system is fragile and even a basic consultation in a private clinic can be very expensive!

That’s why it is essential to take out travel insurance before leaving that offers good medical coverage.

To travel with peace of mind, I recommend the following two insurances (both include epidemic coverage – like Covid-19 – which is very important!)

To subscribe, it’s very simple, you just need to click on the orange links below:

Well, that’s everything I have to share about the Black River Gorges National Park! I hope this guide helps you to perfectly prepare for your day and thoroughly enjoy this extraordinary place!

I’m waiting for you in the comments for your remarks, questions, and feedback 🙂

And what about you, what have you planned to do at the Black River Gorges National Park?

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Anonymous

I've been living in Mauritius for ten years now, and I'm passionate about this jewel of the Indian Ocean. As I love exploring and writing, I have created this blog to give you all my best tips to organize your trip to Mauritius!

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