During our Summer holiday to Mauritius last year we hired a car to make the most of the island for the two weeks we were there. We got all the guidebooks and looked at all the websites before setting a rough itinerary of places we would like to go with the children. One place that caught our attention was the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanic Garden in Pamplemousses near Port Louis which we visited after a morning at L’Aventure du Sucre, just a stone’s throw away.
The Botanic Garden is named after one of the more popular politicians from Mauritius’ history, Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam (SSR) who was a leader in the Mauritian independence movement, and served as the first Chief Minister and Prime Minister of Mauritius. He fought for the rights of labourers and led Mauritius to independence in 1968. The main MRU airport on the southern end of the island is also named after him.
When we arrived we found ample free parking, but were wary of the beggars who demanded payment for pointing at an empty space. Dave just told them to go on their way and we went towards the entrance kiosk where we bought our tickets. Guided tours are available for a small fee and a golf buggy tour is available for less abled visitors.
Armed with a map we made our way into the beautiful gardens and went on a circular route to explore the gardens. As the gardens are an enclosed area with no traffic – apart from a few golf carts for the gardeners and tours – we were happy to let the children run off some steam, knowing that they would be safe and couldn’t go very far. With plenty of grassy areas, water features and statues, there was plenty to keep them occupied. We noticed several toilets dotted around the map which is always reassuring with little ones in tow.
Our route took in a reconstruction of the first sugar mill that was on the island, a far cry from the more modern industrialised L’Aventure du Sucre, which is just across the main road from the botanical gardens. The children couldn’t believe that this wooden contraption was eventually replaced by the huge factories that we had seen at the sugar factory that morning.
The path took us towards a beautifully preserved colonial house, the Château de Mon Plaisir. It was fully open to the public and now mostly devoid of furniture. But it still boasts awesome period features like the staircases and original statues. We were able to walk around at our leisure, on both floors and the outside veranda as every door and window were open. As the house is so open it does seem to have been the adopted home of many a bird over the years with droppings all over the floors, windowsills and the stairs. We had to tell the children to watch where they were putting their hands!
We soon decided to make our way back into the open air and enjoyed a stroll around the rest of the gardens and found ourselves at the memorial fountain to SSR himself. It was sadly empty of water, and didn’t look like it had been used in quite a while. When fully operational, I imagine it would be a lovely space to spend some time in.
As we carried on around the Pamplemousses botanical garden we admired the eighty five different types of palm trees – we didn’t know there were so many – and more than 650 different varieties of plant. We found the famous giant water lily pond which was so beautiful to look at. The children were keen to see if they could sit on the giant water lilies, but they didn’t look that tough! We settled on just looking at them and counting all the ones we could see.
As we meandered our way around, we found giant tortoises in a large enclosure that seemed to be quite popular next to an area where a small herd of deer are kept. The children loved seeing them all up close and could have stayed there all day. We even got to see a keeper feed the deer.
The SSR Botanical Garden is a lovely place to spend a few hours of downtime. It’s well looked after and the staff were all very friendly, typical of the Mauritian people. We spent a few hours wandering around but you could easily stay all day or do as we did and spend the morning at L’Aventure du sucre before visiting the gardens in the afternoon.
The Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden fee is just 200MUR for each person over 5 years old, roughly £18 for our family of four.