Find your mojo in Mauritius

After a year of being cooped up at home, it’s time to go wild — from forest-bathing to mountain meditation, the best ‘medicine’ is found in nature with a wellness holiday by the Indian Ocean


Aerial view of Mauritius island panorama and famous Le Morne Brabant mountain, beautiful blue lagoon and underwater waterfall

Far below, the sea is swirling with shades of blue. It’s as if someone has rinsed a paintbrush in it — kingfisher, periwinkle, cerulean and duck egg. At first you think all is silent, until you stop and listen. Then you hear the sounds of the wild: echo parakeets squawking to each other, the high-pitched calls of macaque monkeys and the whispering chatter of the leaves in the trees. It’s practically a party going on near the skies. 

We’re close to the summit of Mauritius’s iconic Le Morne Brabant mountain, the Indian Ocean in sight, and — despite nature’s cacophony — it’s the perfect place to find some head space.

It’s not just the euphoria of hiking up the exotic peak that feels good for your soul, but you can also take a breather in a ‘mountain meditation’ class when you get there.

Lying under the fronds of towering palms, the sun’s shadows dancing over your eyelids, you breathe in and breathe out, breathe in and breathe out, emptying your mind of all your worries. It feels good to not think about anything for a while. 

The experience is all part of a nature-inspired wellness offering called ‘Wellness in the Wild’ at Heritage Le Telfair, a barefoot-luxury resort on the south-western tip of Mauritius. In its own lush 2,500 hectare estate, it’s easy to dip into the natural world. 

Most of it is made up of the immense Frederica Nature Reserve — a Unesco Biosphere Reserve, renowned for its unique flora, fauna and wildlife. Outside its walls, this part of the island, known as Domaine de Bel Ombre, is also blessed with a bounty of tropical sites, from crashing waterfalls to steamy rainforests, which lift the spirits just by visiting them. 

Heritage Le Telfair has long embraced the benefits of the wellbeing you can gain from being in nature. It launched Mauritius’s first Wellness Festival in 2019, calling in local and international experts from around the world to offer a three-day programme of more than 60 different holistic experiences, inspirational talks and workshops. On ‘pause’ at the moment, it is hoping to relaunch the festival for 2022.

For now, the offering is more localised but it’s not hard to fill the whole day, right from the first activity on the cards: sunrise yoga. Let’s face it, getting out of bed while it is still semi-dark seems counter-intuitive to the concept of relaxing on holiday. It turns out, however, that stretching out your limbs as the sun starts to light up the world is actually entirely energising. 

The setting is magical — yoga at the resort is taken on raised decks in the grounds of Le Château, a 200-year-old mansion found in the grounds. The renovated property is now used as the hotel’s fine dining restaurant and is set in its own French-style gardens, with ponds, topiary and kitchen gardens.

Come early evening, it has an ethereal feel, with the sunset yoga session even more atmospheric. You salute the dying sun with candles flickering around you, while Rousette bats swoop from the branches of the tamarind trees, the sky streaked pink behind them.

For those wanting to switch off entirely while embracing the great outdoors, the Mindful Nature Walk which takes you to the base of Le Morne Brabant is soul-stirring. The mountain itself is seen as sacred by the island’s Creole population, once used as a hiding place for runaway slaves who escaped from the sugar plantations on Mauritius.

Local expert Ravin takes the lead, pointing out indigenous flowers and plants on your route: if you are lucky you might spot the jumellea recurva, a rare white- flowered orchid, which was considered extinct until it was rediscovered on the island. Immersing yourself in the moment is key, with Ravin directing everyone to focus on the sea breezes, the view of the ocean, the clouds above or the smallest details of a plant you would have otherwise overlooked. 

The hike eventually ends in a mindfulness session and breathing meditation, designed to awaken your senses. The Cleansing Breath is first, on our knees, eyes closed. Then, we lie on our backs, arms stretched overhead for The Fish. It’s enlightening just how ‘listening’ to your breathing can make a difference to your mental wellbeing.

Back at the resort, there’s much to get stuck into, from beach volleyball to exploring the nature reserve in an eco-buggy. There’s also an award-winning 18-hole golf course and boat excursions for dolphin spotting and diving. 

The resort is framed by the rugged south coast on one side and so there are watersports galore on offer. Paddle-board Pilates is one of these, combining core strength and strength of will; it admittedly takes a supreme effort to not be the one to fall in the water.

Once owned by Irish botanist and doctor Charles Telfair, Heritage Le Telfair was originally a sugar plantation, and dates back to 1765.

This history is reflected throughout, with lithographed drawings of flora and fauna and much of the architecture based on Creole houses of old. Bridges, ponds and little walkways give it an almost quaint feel, while the all-suite bedrooms have lots of natural touches, with rattan bedsteads, botanical artwork and French-tiled floors.

By contrast the Seven Colours Spa, at the heart of the property, has more of a tropical feel. Treatments are rooted in chromotherapy, with in-house products made using locally-sourced ingredients. The offering is inspired by the nearby Chamarel’s Seven Coloured Earth Geopark, a geological site which has a rare formation of sand dunes made up of seven different colours of earth, said to have wellbeing benefits.

With an in-house osteopath, reiki master and chakra expert, the spa offers a whole host of therapies for the mind and body, including tai-chi sessions, reiki healing and qi-gong classes.

Spa rituals, meanwhile, are based on the colours of your chakras. There are seven options for each treatment, according to how you feel — such as healing or energising — and these are based on your ‘colour’, which is determined at the start of your treatment. Whether you opt for the candle massage or, say, the warm volcanic stone treatment, all are rooted in traditional Mauritian customs.

One of the most enlightening activities on offer is the forest bathing, which sees the in-house reiki master lead a small group into the Biosphere Reserve at dawn to embrace the healing power of the rainforest. 

Being close to trees and meditating near them is said to help reduce anxiety and boost the immune system, freeing up your creativity and accelerating recovery from illness. After a 40-minute session of silent meditation and positive breathing exercises, the trees almost huddling around you, it’s time to dip into a nearby forest waterfall. 

After the silence of the session, squeals ring out as the bubbling water hits our backs, soaks our hair and reinvigorates everyone, making us almost giddy with joy. Whoever said that silence is golden, might have been on to something.


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