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Le Morne Brabant

 
 
 

In the southwest of Mauritius bulging into the Indian Ocean, there is the Le Morne Brabant. Part of the Le Morne Cultural Landscape, it was once a route and shelter used by slaves to runaway during late 18th century and early 19th century. It is a peninsula protected by nearly inaccessible cliffs; the isolated nature of the surrounding mountains and woods makes it an ideal escape route more than 150 years ago. Today the peninsula is no longer an escape route, but a getaway destination for anybody who craves for different perspectives of the world. Located at the very end of Mauritius, the summit of Le Morne Brabant offers heavenly view of the Indian Ocean and a hiking experience like no other mountain can give. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2008 for its natural and cultural significance in Mauritius, Le Morne Brabant is now is one of the most preserved and protected wild sanctuaries in the country.

From a distance, the mountain is like an abandoned inhabitable place. However, many slaves who could not endure the hardships and punishments by their masters in the old days fled to the forest and found perfect hideaway. Standing at more than 550 meters above sea level, it is far from the tallest mountain, but the summit is hidden from sight from all angles. Another interesting part is that the summit is actually flat plateau covered with lush vegetations. The surrounding landscape is an enormous formation of basaltic rock. Since its inscription on UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008, the summit of Le Morne Brabant has finally become accessible to the public in July 2016. It has not been one year since then, yet the mountain has attracted more than 7,500 visitors so far; 75% of which are locals who claim that they have strong emotional attachments with the mountain.

Brief History

For Mauritians in general, Le Morne Brabant is a symbol of the beginning of the country. Mauritius’ early history is strongly associated with slaves from Madagascar, African mainland, and South East Asia. The island was indeed an important slave-market especially in the eastern hemisphere. Large number of the slaves escaped and lives in the mountain. On February 1, 1835, the British administration sent some soldiers to spread the news that slavery had ended in Mauritius. Unfortunately, many of the escaped slaves thought that soldiers were there to take them back to custody. Clouded with the wrong ideas in their mind, many of those slaves chose to end their lives by jumping off the cliffs.

When to Visit

Le Morne Brabant has tropical climate. Average annual temperature is 23.6° C. Of course, the summit naturally has colder temperature, but you should always expect this when climbing any mountain anywhere in the world. Le Morne Brabant is therefore for all-year round visit, similar to most other destinations in the island.

Tourist Destinations

The base of Le Morne Brabant is surrounded by land areas owned by private entities. Land owners will charge you for a fee if you want their guidance to walk through the paths and reach the summit. The trail itself is not physically demanding, except in several spots only where the route becomes too steep that you may have to crawl. There is almost no reason that you need any guide to climb the mountain. If there is any reason to hire a guide, it would be the fact that you have to trespass other people’s properties to reach the top. Fortunately, most (if not all) land owners do no mind at all. No one will file a lawsuit against you for trespassing; in most cases, you can settle any dispute on site.

Le Morne Brabant has only several things to offer. First, every step you make resembles the journey that all those slaves also made to escape. Although the trail is considerably easier now, you can imagine how it was back then where they felt like everyone was after them. Second, you take a hike with great hopes of seeing the world from a different point of view; whether or not you want to admit, that was the exact same feeling the slaves had. Third, once you get to the summit, there is a sense of freedom and getting a real off-grid experience.

Hiking on your own is not that dangerous in Le Morne Brabant. The summit is accessible through relatively easy route. Another good is that you can make your own schedule and enjoy a little bit of solitary walk. The entire route is open to the summit; no gates, no fences, no checkpoints.

For many people, the whole story of Le Morne Brabant is just a made-up folklore for marketing purpose. Even if it was not real, there is no reason to not visit the site when you are in Mauritius. This is a different unique destination among beach resorts and upscale shopping markets in the mainland. The hike itself takes about three to four hours depending on your pace.

Le Morne Brabant is a solitary neighborhood, but the countryside has been well-developed. When you are not hiking, spend times in the sandy beaches and crystal clear lagoon. Luxurious accommodations with water sports and even golf are available all around. Right along the coast, you will find some of the fanciest hotels.

Le Morne Brabant is more than just a mountain with spectacular view from the summit. It is cultural heritage of Mauritius; it had its share of bitter histories indeed, but now the villagers are more welcoming than you can expect. Despite their laid-back mood, the locals are happy to share their world full of wonderful landscape, activities, and cuisines.

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