Waterfalls and Seven Coloured Earth in Mauritius
Situated in southwest Mauritius and surrounded by the most beautiful mountains of the island, the region of Chamarel is home to two natural wonders:
– The 83m (272ft) high Chamarel Waterfalls. They fall from the River St Denis in the Black River Mountains and plunge seaward to form the River du Cap. The site possesses a rare beauty. You can have a vivid view of the waterfalls from both a lower and an upper viewpoint. The first one is just off the parking. The second one is a little bit higher, where you see the waterfall from a different angle. Wooden walkways from the roadway enable closer views of the waterfalls. The waterfall has most water between December and April, when there is more rain.
The region has other beautiful waterfalls. The Alexandra Waterfall is located near the road from Chamarel to Le Petrin (an entry to Black River Gorges National Park), about 3 km from a magnificent viewpoint on the Park.
The Tamarin Waterfall, in fact a series of several falls, may be found further to the North, between Petrin and Vacoas.
– Seven Coloured Earth. Geologists are still intrigued by the rolling dunes of multi-coloured lunar-like landscape. The colours, red, brown, violet, green, blue, purple and yellow never erode in spite of torrential downpours and adverse climatic conditions. The phenomena has never been explained but it is believed the earths are composed of mineral rich volcanic ash.
A signboard at the site gives following explanation for this colourful oddit:
“This natural phenomenon is due to decomposed basalt gullies. The hot and humid climate helps in the decomposition of the basalt into clay. As a result of total hydrolysis (chemical break- down of minerals by water), the soluble elements such as silicic acid and cations are washed, leaving a large composition of iron and aluminium which constitute a ferralitic soil. The iron sesquioxides (Fe2O3) have a red and anthracite colour, whereas the aluminium sesquioxides (Al2O3) have a blue or purplish colour.”
The place has become one of Mauritius’ main tourist attractions since the 1960s. Nowadays, the dunes are protected by a wooden fence and visitors are not allowed to climb on them, although they can look at the scenery from observation outposts placed along the fence. Curio shops in the area sell small test-tubes filled up with the coloured earths.
More are awaiting to be discovered by you visiting these small islands in the Indian Ocean.