Updated on the 21st of February 2012
La Vanille Réserve des Mascareignes is one of my son’s favorite visit. And although it’s a bit out of the way, I must say we’ve been there quite a few times.
Situated in Rivière des Anguilles, in the south of the island, you can reach it from the west, east or central plateau.
From the west, you’ll have to follow the coastal road up to souillac, where you will find indications for the turn off to the park. From the east (airport), you follow the road bringing you past Trois Boutique and l’Escalier up to the park. From the central plateau, you will have to go through La Flora, Brittania and Tyack. Look out for road signs, directions are very well indicated.
The entry and exit roads leading to the Reserve are separate roads as they are one-way streets making a loop, so if you miss the turnoff, you’ll have to turn around and come back to it.
When you arrive in the parking lot, you can already see some animals before going in through the entrance. They are farm animals widely bred some years ago in Mauritius. With industrialization however, breeding of these animals have diminished.
I usually like to go see them at first, when we start off the visit, rather than coming back to them at the end, because after the whole visit, we usually come out a bit tired and are less keen on more.
The animals you’ll find here are sheep, goats, donkeys and deers.
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You can then go through the entrance where you’ll pay for your tickets and have access to the park.
You can choose to have a guide walk you through the park or you can wander along its paths on your own. You will be given a map of the park at the ticket booth and you can easily find your way around. A guide will obviously give you more information about the park, its animals and vegetation though. I do find that with young children I prefer to wander off on my own as they tend to get bored more easily and are easily attracted by many different things. With older children it can be nice to use the guides services as they are more prone to absorb and be curious about the information given. Like, for example, that to determine the sex of the crocodiles they adjust the temperature in the incubators… didn’t know that before!
One of the main attraction of the park is the crocodiles. As you enter, you can see some right at the beginning. Then throughout the park, you’ll see the crocodiles in their different stages of growth. You’ll find some information as you walk along about their size, weight, the amount they eat, etc…
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You can also have pictures taken with baby crocodiles at the entrance. They sometimes might let children have a look and touch the baby crocodiles even when you are not having a picture taken. Children do love it and it does add a little sensory experience to their visit!
During the visit you will also see various other animals:
Mongoose (although, the mongoose is definitely very shy and is always hiding! I’ve only seen one very quick glance of it at one of my visits…)
Giant toads (this is a close up but they still are about the size of an adult hand)
The walk across the ponds and cages is very pleasant as the vegetation and plants are abundant.
Don’t miss the insectarium! The collection of butterflies, moths, spiders, and other different insects is really impressive!
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The other main attraction of the park are the giant tortoises and I believe this is the reason why my son likes this visit so much. The giant tortoise’s enclosure is very big with a lot of them all around. You can walk amongst them, sit on their back the time of a photograph and feed them. To feed them, you will have to buy some leaves from the guard at the tortoise’s area’s entrance for Rs 10. If he is not there, he might have gone to fetch some more of the leaves, it’s well worth waiting for him to come back.
You can also look for ‘Domino’ the oldest and largest tortoise. The area is big and this task might not be as easy as you think… but it can add to the fun of the visit!
Next to the tortoise’s area is a playground for children. The children also like this playground as there is an old tractor they can hop on and make-believe-drive! You will also find the usual slide and monkey bars. For the gutsier children, there is a mini zip-line they can hold on to!
Make sure you have a mosquito spray with you if you plan on relaxing a bit while your children play as it might come in handy while you wait.
You will also find a restaurant in the park: Le Crocodile Affamé. I wouldn’t recommend eating there though as everytime we did so, we were really not satisfied with the food, even for simple things as chips and toasted sandwich… and I’m not usually fussy on simple food. In my opinion, you’d be better off finding a little restaurant in the surrounding areas. However, the Crocodile Affamé does offer crocodile meat, so if you’d like to taste some, you might want to stay there and eat.
On your way out, you can stop at the shop where you can find various items in crocodile’s skin and other souvenirs.
The visit of the park usually takes about 2 to 3 hours. It might take a bit less or more time depending on if you have children with you, how long you spend at the playground or if you eat or not at the restaurant.
Address: Rivière des Anguilles
Tel: 626 2503
Fax: 626 1442
Opening hours: Everyday from 9:30 am to 5 pm
Prices (updated June 2015 – valid till October 2015):
Weekdays: adults – Rs 395, children from 3 yrs old to 12 yrs old – Rs 225
Week-end: adults – Rs 225, children from 3 yrs old to 12 yrs old – Rs 100
A guide is included in the price. (I once had a special promotion, when I visited the Chateau de Labourdonnais, I received free tickets for children for La Vanille reserve. It might be worth inquiring if you are planning on doing both in a close time period.)
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