FACTS AND FIGURES
The country telephone code is +230 and there are no area codes. Public telephone booths can be found at the airport and larger hotels. Fax facilities are available at most hotels. E-communication is also available.
The capital, Port Louis. Other interesting towns include Curepipe, Quatre Bornes, Rose Hill and Mahébourg.
People from China, Africa, India, France and Britain, make up the population. The official languages are English and French (with French being the more popular), the most commonly used are Creole (a mixture of French and African languages), Hindi and Bhojpuri. Urdu and Chinese are also spoken.
Due to the diversity of cultures in Mauritius, a number of colourful festivals and ceremonies take place every year. In January or February the Tamil penitents, while celebrating Cavadee, pierce themselves through their cheeks, tongues and backs with long skewers while walking on nail shoes. At the same time they carry images of deities. In February or March the Hindus make a pilgrimage to Lake Grand Bassin in honour of Lord Shiva as they take part in the Maha Shivaratree festival. The Muslim, Christian and Chinese celebrations include Eid-Ul-Fitr (Muslim), Christmas (Christians) and the Spring Festival (Chinese).
Hindu,Christian, Muslim faiths are all prevalent on the island, as well as old Chinese customs.
Water and electricity
It is wise to stick to bottled water for drinking purposes.
The electrical supply is 220V AC, 50Hz. The plugs used in most hotels are three-pin, although two-pin plugs are also used.
The local people generally eat spicy food - curry is very popular, served with rice or roti (a flat Indian bread). Hotels and restaurants offer a range of foods including Chinese, Indian and Creole. European style food is available and seafood is a speciality in many places.
The range of accommodation in Mauritius is vast, and covers self-catering (camping on public beaches is not encouraged) through to some of the finest beachfront hotels in the world. The busiest times are December, January, July and August so a premium is likely to be added to the normal rates.You can find more details on the following website http://ta.gov-mu.org/
The island's only port is Port Louis. There is no railway service but the 1 800 km-road network is good, as are the taxi and bus services. Those wishing to hire a car will need a valid international driver's license. Taxis are available at reasonable rates. One can go just about anywhere on the island by making use of the bus services that operate in separate regions.
Air Mauritius runs daily flights from the main island to Rodrigues Island and back.
The island is a peaceful place, but, as with many international tourist destinations, caution should be exercised with valuables and normal safety precautions should be taken.
What to buy
Take your pick - packets of Mauritian spice, ship models, miniature dodos in copper or wood, Mauritian recipe books, Sega music CD/DVDs, miniatures of island rum, anthurium flowers, Mauritian tea, T-shirts, shells (make sure you get a Clearance Certificate), Indian fabrics, basket work, quilts, hand-embroidered table cloths, pottery, casual wear and pareos. Knitwear and beachwear can be purchased at factory prices and duty free shopping includes designerwear, diamonds and gold jewellery.
Generally from 9am to 4pm from Mondays to Fridays and from 9am to 12pm on Thursdays and Sundays.
Because it is a free port, Mauritius has a number of commercial, development and offshore banks in addition to the central banks.
GETTING THERE (VISITORS GATE)
Mauritius is well serviced by a number of main airlines. Air Mauritius has weekly flights to and from many European cities as well as to and from the major African cities including Antananarivo, Cape Town, Durban, Maputo, Harare, Johannesburg, and Nairobi. In addition, there are flights to and from Bombay, Delhi, Chennai, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Melbourne, Perth and Singapore. British Airways, Air France, Singapore Airlines and South African Airways operate weekly flights. A prime destination, Mauritius is only some 12 hours flight from Europe and about 4.5 hours from Johannesburg, South Africa.
A valid passport and a return or onward ticket is a must for travellers entering Mauritius. Visas are not required by those from a Commonwealth country, Japan, South Africa, the USA, the EU and the Scandinavian countries. Those that do require a visa can usually obtain one for three months, and they are renewable on request. Mauritian Embassies and High Commissions issue visas free of charge. Passengers in transit require no visas but they must continue their journey within 72 hours of checking in.Tourists from 21 different countries require a visa to enter Mauritius prior to embarking on the plane.
An international vaccination certificate against yellow fever is required if visitors are from an infected area. More details on entry requirements can be obtained from the health office in Port Louis on the following website http://health.govmu.org/. While there is a small risk of contracting malaria, it is exclusively the benign form (phalcipirum vivax) that exists throughout the year in some areas.
The unit of currency is the Mauritian Rupee (MRs), which is made up of 100 cents. Travellers cheques can be exchanged at hotels, banks and authorised dealers in foreign currency. Travellers cheques in Pounds Sterling and Euros are preferred. Major credit cards are accepted throughout the island, such as Visa, Access MasterCard, American Express and Diners Club.
These rates are indicative and are subject to daily fluctuations.
1 US Dollar - 35 MUR
1 Pound Sterling - 50 MUR
1 Euro - 40 MUR
1 South African Rand 2.50 MUR
Tropical clothing such as light weight cotton or linen suits, dresses or short-sleaved clothes are most suitable.Otherwise, dress is casual although most hotels do not allow guests to wear shorts or T-shirts in the restaurants or bars in the evenings. Between June and October, a jacket or tracksuit top is recommended. Dress appropriately when visiting religious shrines and remove shoes when entering mosques and temples.
Weather and Climate