"LE VAL NATURE PARK"

An interesting trip may be made from Mahebourg to Le Val Nature Park, which forms part of the only government-owned sugar estate in Mauritius, the 7,000-acre (2,800 hectare) Rose Belle Sugar Estate. Take the B7 from Ville Noire of Rich en Eau on the banks of the banks of the River des Creoles. The area meaning literally 'rich in water', contained family owned sugar estates and today it is dominated by the huge modern sugar factory of Rich en Eau. The road winds northwards to Cent Gaulettes and Le Val where isolated chimneys mark the place of these early sugar factories and the remains of buildings or 'habitations' in which families lived. These chimneys, some sprouting trees and shrubs, are listed as 'National Monuments.

Le Val is an example of how sugar estates are diversifying into agriculture and farming activities. Here freshwater prawns of the Rosenberghi variety are specially bred in chemically treated water. Anthuriums thrive in greenhouses for export and huge plots of watercress are grown for home consumption. There is an enclosure of deer and sheep wander freely along the banks and bamboo bridges of tranquil streams. There are some exotic palms, amongst them the Terminalia Tree from Madagascar, public toilets, open-air kiosks and a mini aquarium housing some eels and tropical fish.