Travel Diaries

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Dubai & Mauritius

We decided on a late holiday in 2017, so as November 5th celebrations were taking place, and the pace of Christmas was gaining momentum, we left the country behind for a couple of weeks on Mauritius, stopping over for a few days in Dubai en route. The destination was no quick decision as we were looking to make a journey that ticked several boxes not previously experienced. Combining desert, rain forest, excellent walking, tropical climate and a little adventure whittles down the choice of destinations; but having done some of the groundwork for the trip before parking it a few years ago meant that revisiting the idea was fairly easy.

In our usual style, we forsook shopping in Dubai, and lounging on tropical Mauritian beaches for a more active alternative. Shoe leather, sweat and calories were lost in abundance. Boiled and blasted by sand in Dubai, followed by uncomfortable humidity and tropical downpours in Mauritius, allowed us to experience a little of both countries. For the first time, I used my full Leica TL system, which in itself was a voyage of discovery as it finally gave me the opportunity to test its strengths and weaknesses. Ethan used his trusty Pentax K-3 and a bunch of prime lenses (leaving his 20-40mm zoom at home). As with previous Travel Diary projects, selecting a sample of images from a vast collection was difficult; it is easy to showcase the most artistic examples, failing to achieve the intended purpose.

Here are just over sixty images to share with you. Not technically the best we have, their purpose is to tell a story.

  • Dubai
    After arriving at our hotel in the early hours of the morning, we were up with the pigeons to begin a heavy day of sightseeing, starting with the Burj Khalifa. Dominating the Dubai skyline, a trip to the 125th floor had been planned in advance, allowing us to skip the lengthy queues
  • Dubai
    The view from the Burj Khalifa’s 125th floor, looking out across the Persian Gulf. From up here it is not difficult to be in awe of man’s ability to assert control over a hostile desert environment.
  • Dubai
    The Burj Khalifa - an image no different to many others…but this one is ours!
  • Dubai
    Dubai Creek, a fascinating area fusing the old with the new. Boats continually ply the creek, ferrying visitors to spice and gold souks.
  • Dubai
    A long exposure image taking in one of the souks that portrays the bustle and confusion presented to visitors like us, on their first foray.
  • Dubai
    The creek is a fascinating place to walk along; dhows in varying stages of seaworthiness lie moored two and three deep, loading and unloading cargo in a cacophony of noise and smells, that feels amplified by the morning heat.
  • Dubai
    Escaping the bustle of the city, we decided on a late afternoon trip into the desert, stopping off at a camel farm on the way. We took a whole bunch of cliched images but couldn’t resist adding this picture of this gorgeous gal!
  • Dubai
    Our vehicle convoy, temporarily halted to watch the sun go down. Its great fun racing through the dunes but anyone doing this should heed the warning of not eating before the journey, or car sickness will almost certainly ensue (as experienced by one person travelling with us).
  • Dubai
    It has long been one of my dreams to capture a desert sunset.
  • Dubai
    With the sun having set, we returned to more stable surfaces, re-inflated the car tyres and headed out for a bedouin style feast under the stars.
  • Mauritius
    OK, not the most obvious picture to open the Mauritius section of this Travel Diary. Taken in a small restaurant in Tamarin that served delicious pizza, the caption on this pepper mill was banal to say the least; "See how it runs". WTF! If anyone knows what this means and what the child is pouring over the chicken to make it run, please email us!
  • Mauritius
    This brooding landscape image was taken from Tamarin beach looking up the river towards Trois Mamelles Mountain. In order to get to our accommodation from here, we had to wade through the river, the depth of which changed with the tide. I must admit I was a bit nervous about crossing this with a whole bunch of Leica gear.
  • Mauritius
    One of hundreds of small crabs found along the beaches.
  • Le Morne Brabant Mountain
    Le Morne Brabant Mountain; the final stretch of path to the summit is closed as it is quite dangerous. However, if you fancy a little excitement, it is possible to get around the razor wire and continue on a vertiginous scramble to the top. Ethan made it all of the way up and was rewarded with this view…truly stunning, and not too bad from where I bottled out, about 20 meters below.
  • Le Morne Brabant Mountain
    Ethan’s first and only selfie. Given that he was the only one of the three of us to make the summit of Le Morne Brabant, and the fact that he had it to himself, there is a certain justification in grabbing this image!
  • Black River Gorges National Park
    An image taken during our first walk around Black River Gorges National Park. We walked from the trailhead at Black River to Macchabee Viewpoint. On this occasion the stunning view was shrouded in cloud and it was not long until the first of many heavy downpours introduced itself.
  • Eureka Colonial House
    Ethan playing a very out of tune piano in Eureka colonial house. It is a beautiful old mansion bursting at the seams with authentic period furniture and set in picturesque gardens. To have a meal here is a great experience - excellent Mauritian cuisine cooked in the original kitchens.
  • Eureka Colonial House
    A close up of the piano’s decaying keybed. Its not difficult imagining the social gatherings that must have taken place around it.
  • Eureka Colonial House
    The kitchens at Eureka colonial house, still in use today.
  • Eureka Colonial House
    If time and weather permits, it is worth exploring the waterfalls in Eureka’s grounds. It reminded me very much of some areas of the Derbyshire Dales, although the flora was a tad more exotic.
  • Mauritius
    Watching storms drift in from the ocean became something of a pastime for us; very few days passed when something like this did not rumble onto the horizon, making landfall with copious amounts of rain.
  • Mauritius
    Another storm rattling in; converting images like this to monochrome adds a sense of drama, although the two fishermen seemed very unconcerned.
  • Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Gardens
    Another day, another deluge; taken during a very wet walk around the botanical gardens at Pamplemousses. See our Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Gardens collection for most of the images taken here.
  • Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Gardens
    Ethan, framing a lily picture, botanical gardens.
  • Mauritius
    Like many countries, Mauritius serves superb food, so long as the usual tourist haunts are avoided. Seafood in particular is excellent and Octopus salad was one of our most enjoyed dishes.
  • Mauritius
    The stunningly pretty Notre Dame Auxiliatrice church, overlooking the beach at Cap Malheureux. It is open to the public and makes a welcome stop when travelling around the north of the island.
  • Mauritius
    Relaxation.
  • Mauritius
    A view of the harbour at Cap Malheureux.
  • Grand Bassin
    On what was one of wettest days of our stay, we decided to visit the sacred Hundu site of Grand Bassin. Here, monkeys are fed in the shadow (or shelter as it turned out on this day) of a huge statue of Shiva, the tallest statue in Mauritius.
  • Grand Bassin
    The monkeys at Grand Bassin are not camera shy!
  • Grand Bassin
    By the time we reached the sacred lake at Grand Bassin, the rain was unrelenting, a torrential downpour that saw everyone hiding in what shelter could be found. There was no doubting that the deteriorating weather provided a mysterious backdrop for pictures, but we never had the opportunity to explore the area as much as we would have liked.
  • Mauritius
    If we thought the weather at Grand Bassin was bad, it was only a prelude to what followed the day after. Our plans were to visit the small port town of Mahebourg and our optimism for improving weather was soon extinguished by relentless rain that saw us seek refuge in the small museum for much longer that we anticipated. Having lingered over the exhibits, particularly the remains of the Dodo, to the point of boredom we whiled away some time watching the rain from an excellent restaurant. Other than eating and sipping coffee, our only activity was to photograph some of the houses across a lake.
  • Mauritius
    Vegetable store in Mahebourg market. Had it not been for the rain we would have spent more time here. As it was, we stayed long enough to take a few pictures and buy a bag of awesomely fiery chillis.
  • Mauritius
    Finally the weather improved and we ventured to the small village of Albion. Our journey took us to the lighthouse, located on a headland to the north of the village. Three dogs befriended us here, following us with great interest while we explored the area.
  • Mauritius
    Having finally got bored, probably because we had no treats for them, the Albion dog party dispersed, one of them seeking shelter from the sun under our car.
  • Port Louis
    Port Louis, Mauritius’ capital and a complete contrast to everything we had experienced on the island so far. A fantastic place to discover with a camera, we spent a full day walking it’s various districts.
  • Port Louis
    Aapravasi Ghat, Port Louis; site of the ‘great experiment’ for indentured labour, the remains of the immigration depot are very poignant. A superb museum explains the history of the site.
  • Port Louis
    Heading towards the fort, a walk through Port Louis’ Chinatown area provided a fascinating detour.
  • Port Louis
    And then the heavens opened again, but thankfully it was only a passing shower this time!
  • Port Louis
    A general view across Port Louis, from Fort Adelaide.
  • Port Louis
    Fort Adelaide, Port Louis. Behind this cannon are the restored barracks. The site is very well preserved and well worth taking time out to visit. The 360 degree views across the city from its walls are superb.
  • Chamarel
    Making the most of some excellent weather, we visited the area of Chamarel, our first stop being the picturesque waterfall. Surprisingly it was fairly quiet, giving us plenty of opportunity to get a few pictures of the landscape.
  • Chamarel
    Most people visiting Chamarel head for the bizarre coloured earth attraction. A natural phenomenon, the earth is banded into seven main colours, made all the more intense by recent rainfall. What the visitor sees is the erosion and separation of volcanic rock, possibly caused by different stages of cooling.
  • Mauritius
    It is hard not to notice the Red Whiskered Bulbul population. Some of them are so tame that they will take food from the hand. Opportunistic and always on the lookout for free food, they waited patiently for us to finish our coffee break before jumping on the seats in search of crumbs.
  • Mauritius
    Enclaves of Macaque monkeys can be found roaming many of Mauritius’ rural areas, particularly around Grand Bassin and Black River Gorges National Park. These three were having quiet moment grooming.
  • Mauritius
    Mauritius has no single religion, but is a fusion of Hindu, Muslim, Christian and Buddhist faiths. Here a crucifix sits atop a Hindu shrine.
  • Casela Nature Park
    Casela Nature Park is an excellent day out and, being a few minutes drive from our hotel, was somewhere high on our list of must sees. We spent most of the day wandering the grounds paying particular attention to the parrots, as we have three back at home. The other big attraction for us were the zip lines.
  • Casela Nature Park
    Having never seen a fruit bat in real life, these cute animals were really interesting.
  • Casela Nature Park
    Turkeys have some of the most interesting faces of any creature!
  • Casela Nature Park
    Flamingos, Casela Nature Park.
  • Casela Nature Park
    These two mating giant tortoises could be heard a long way off and didn’t seem to mind a crowd of people watching them.
  • Casela Nature Park
    It is possible to go into the enclosure with lions, accompanied only with one of the keepers and a large stick. Not something we fancied doing… after all these are wild animals.
  • Mauritius
    Mauritius is renowned for its sunsets and, being located on the west coast, we were perfectly placed to experience them.
  • Mauritius
    Our trip resulted in many sunset images, so the large body of work allowed us plenty of material to experiment with. Several received a monochrome treatment.
  • Black River Gorges National Park
    The last of three trips we made into Black River Gorges National Park was by far the best. For the first time we experienced it under blue skies and warm sun. This Bromeliad was one of many growing wild along the trail between Petrin and Black River.
  • Black River Gorges National Park
    Humidity was very high in the rainforest and it was a relief to cool our feet in this stream which ran off a cliff, falling hundreds of feet below.
  • Black River Gorges National Park
    Maccabee Viewpoint, Black River Gorges National Park… and what a view. Much better than the first time we stopped here when low cloud swirled around us.
  • Black River Gorges National Park
    Maccabee trail, Black River Gorges National Park.
  • Mauritius
    We guess this is what most people come to Mauritius for… warm tropical seas protected by coral reefs.
  • Mauritius
    Another view of Trois Mamelles mountain, under less dramatic skies than previously seen. Our love of the nearby pizza restaurant meant another waist deep crossing of the river to reach it!
  • Mauritius
    Our beach walks took us through some stunning forrest that grew right down to the ocean’s edge.
  • Mauritius
    We finish this Travel Diary with an emblem of tropical destinations… the Coconut Palm.