Tips for hiking Mauritius’ Black River Peak Trail
Black River National Park
Anyone who plans a trip to the beautiful African island of Mauritius will most likely come across at least one activity that is connected to the Black River National Park–the largest protected forest area on the island. This landscape is a real treat for nature lovers. The park provides about 17,000 acres of rolling hills, impressive valleys and countless waterfalls dropping down into a deep green tropical jungle. Alongside many hiking options, there is one specific hike that people are extremely interested in: The Black River Peak Hiking Trail.
How to reach the Black River Peak Hiking Trail
Black River National Park covers a large area in the southern part of Mauritius. With a total of four entrances, accessing the park is easily possible from any direction on the island. Keep in mind that Mauritius is a pretty small island. Even if you are staying on the opposite side of the island, in the far north, it only takes about one hour to get to the center of the national park. It is also worth mentioning that the island provides excellent street conditions, which makes it really easy to navigate. The Black River Peak hiking trail also has an official GPS tag on Google, which makes it very easy to find.
When the GPS told me that I had arrived at my destination, I was confused. There was neither an official parking structure, nor an entrance to the trail that could clearly be identified. I parked the rental car anyway and walked around for a few minutes. Finally, I spotted a small stone that indicated the entrance to the trail.
For proper parking, you should use the Gorges Viewpoint Parking, just four minutes from the hiking entrance by foot.
As I took my first steps into the dense forest, it immediately started raining. This is something to always keep in mind. The weather is extremely unstable, especially in the mountain regions of the island. When I parked the car, there was pure sunshine. Less than 15 minutes later, pouring rain.
Weather can be problematic during the hike
The Black River Peak Hiking trail is very narrow and surrounded by a dense forest. On a sunny day, this doesn’t really matter. On a rainy day, it makes all the difference. During heavy rainfall the water can’t really go anywhere and flows into the hiking trail, which is a perfectly flat downward surface that quickly turns into a huge puddle and after a few minutes, into a small creek. Driven by a desire to finish that hike, I moved forward. Big mistake.
After about 30 minutes, I was unable to see the hiking path. I had already given up on trying to keep my feet dry. At the beginning, I kept stepping off the trail to go alongside the slightly elevated trees on either side. Once I slipped and stepped into ankle-deep water, so I stopped to take rest a bit.
I walked through water with only one focus: not to slip and fall into the water! Throughout the hike, the rain occasionally stopped, and I got my hopes up only to have it start raining even heavier a few minutes later. Every now and then, little openings appeared along the trail, allowing for breathtaking views over the valley and its waterfalls.
The most dangerous part of the trail
After about 70 minutes, two hikers crossed my way on their journey back. They told me that I was only a few minutes away from the top and that I should be very careful should I decide to move on. I would soon see what they meant. The last part of this hike is so steep that it can only be climbed by holding onto a rope attached to some trees. Under better circumstances, this may be fine. However, rain makes the rocks extremely slippery. Additionally, wind kept blowing the hood of my rain jacket into my face, ruining last bit of eyesight I had. Eventually, I made it to the top but had zero visibility.
A break with a 360-degrees view
At the end of this trail, there is usually a breathtaking 360-degree view. Not only that, but there is also a bench located at the top of the mountain, which offers a perfect place to rest and enjoy the scenery. Of course, there was nothing to see during my hike. In fact, wind and rain were so strong that I decided to use the bench as shelter to sit out the storm. After about 15 minutes I realized that circumstances may not change for a long time, so I carefully headed back. As I descended, I watched the storm pass by and stared at an oddly beautiful after-storm scene with a rainbow.
One awesome perk of this trail is the fact that there are numerous landscape and nature attractions nearby. Only eight minutes east of the Gorges Viewpoint, there is one of the island’s prettiest and most iconic waterfalls: The Alexandra Falls. Visiting this place should definitely be combined with a hike to Black River Peak.
COVER: A small stone on the side of the road indicates the entrance and beginning of the Black River Peak Trail. Photo: Thomas Später
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Thomas Später, PhD, is an experienced backpacking traveler that specializes in adventurous trips around the globe. He has traveled to remote and exotic places, such as Namibia or Mongolia and focuses on landscape and wildlife photography to share the beauty of our planet with others. In 2021, Thomas published a (German) book about Overpopulation and Over-consumption (Die Überbevölkerung). With his awareness of current global issues, he uses his travels to support particularly local hotels and restaurants to raise awareness for the nature and culture of his destinations. Follow Thomas´ adventures on Instagram as well as on his website, World In Frames.