Signal Mountain

 

Signal mountain is probably the easiest mountain top to reach in Mauritius.

Even though the road is tared up to the very top, it is closed off to vehicles so you can walk happily without being bothered by any traffic.

 

Signal mountain track
The beginning of the Signal mountain track

 

Reaching the top of Signal mountain will reward you with a magnificent view of Port-Louis and the north on one side and of the western coastline of the island on the other.

To reach the Signal mountain parking, you need to drive right up Labourdonnais street and up into the parking. Alternatively, you may drive in front of Marie Reine de La Paix until you reach that very same parking.

 

Signal mountain parking
Signal mountain parking

 

The walk up Signal mountain has been called a health track and is very popular. On most mornings and afternoons it is very well attended by both walkers and joggers of the area, a little like the Trou-aux-Cerfs in Curepipe.

 

Signal Mountain in Port-Louis
The Signal Mountain Health Track

 

The walk has a constant medium slope to the top.

The first part of the road is actually done facing the mountains with Le Pouce mountain right in front as well as La Fenêtre.

 

Le Pouce mountain seen from Signal mountain
Le Pouce mountain with a big hat-cloud

 

La Fenetre seen from Signal mountain
La Fenêtre

 

The vegetation around is not really luxuriant and I’m guessing there might be fires at times when the weather is very dry.

 

Vegetation of Signal mountain
The vegetation of Signal mountain

 

Lots of Acacia trees, so beware of the ‘piquant loulou’ that might roam on the side of the road.

 

Piquants loulous on signal mountain
Piquants Loulous

 

While still a bit low on the road, we started to pinpoint some landmarks like the Champ de Mars and La Citadelle.

 

La Citadelle seen from Signal mountain
La Citadelle

 

Marie Reine de la Paix could also be seen quite clearly behind us.

 

Marie Reine de la Paix seen from Signal mountain
Marie Reine de la Paix and its 82 steps.

 

On a clear day, the view of the north of the island goes up to Gunner’s Quoin.

 

Gunner's Quoin seen from Signal mountain
Gunner’s Quoin and the very flat land of the north

 

Throughout the road there were some funny markings on the road at regular interval. They had Roman numbers, letters and a lily flower symbol on top. Not sure what they meant exactly, probably some way to mark the distance.

 

Signal mountain
Might we be at the 4th station?

 

A much more reliable way for distance are simply to follow the wooden signs indicating every 500m rather!

 

Signal mountain
500m post

 

At about a fifth of the way up, the road makes a sharp u-turn bend to carry on walking towards the mountain top.

 

Signal mountain
Turning sharp!

 

There are some fancy exercise equipment at the bend…

 

Signal mountain
Exercising equipment on Signal mountain

 

…and I, of course, had a try to see what it was like!

 

Signal mountain exercise equipments
And 1, 2, 3, 4, 5… mmmh no, just 1!

 

At the time of our visit they were in pretty good condition and from the couple of twists and pushes I did, I’m sure they can provide a very good work-out if you put your heart into it!

However, the equipment to do pull-ups was way too high for me so I didn’t get to try that one out. Only tall people get to do pull-ups on Signal mountains!

After that little interlude, we were back on track for the rest of the way. On the right, throughout that second stretch of road, Port-Louis can be glimpsed at throughout the trees.

 

Port-Louis seen from Signal mountain
Port-Louis

 

Port Louis harbour seen from Signal mountain
The harbour

 

About half way through, there was a nice touch of color with some purple bougainvillea growing on a fencing. I’m not really sure of the purpose of the fencing as the mountain slope doesn’t seem much steeper there. I might be mistaken though.

 

Signal mountain
Some beautiful bougainvillea on the way up

 

From the photo above, you also have a glimpse of our target ahead, the building on top!

The road carries on in that same direction nearly to the top, up until a second sharp turn in the road.

This is a very nice viewpoint to make a stop and relax a little.

 

Signal mountain
Sight seeing from Signal mountain

 

Port-Louis harbor is straight ahead.

 

Port-Louis harbour seen from Signal mountain
Port-Louis harbour

 

Signal mountain
‘Les Salines’, an old salt pans now converted into parking space nearby.

 

The Caudan waterfront seen from Signal mountain
The Caudan Waterfront

 

La Citadelle seen from Signal mountain.
La Citadelle, seen from a little higher

 

Champs de Mars seen from signal mountain
The Champ de Mars where weekly horse-racing takes place.

 

At that point, the mountain top still blocks the view of the west coast.

We then carried on to the very top. A nice area with benches is maintained for a well deserved rest after the walk up.

 

Signal mountain
We’re nearly at the very top!

 

There are some more exercises equipment at the very top and even though they don’t look as fancy as the ones we saw earlier, they definitely seemed more popular.

 

Signal mountain
Exercising at the top of Signal mountain

 

Even though I’m guessing that Signal mountain had a prominent role in the marine movements during the French and English occupation of the island, nowadays it only serves to send (or receive?) signals from the huge antennas at the top.

 

Signal mountain
Antennas on top of Signal mountain

 

Stories have it that during the French occupation of the island, someone would go up everyday to scrutinize the horizon. He apparently had a gift to sense boats that were not far from the Mauritian coasts. Two or three days after he ‘spotted’ them, boat would come in the port.

Another story says that in the 1930s and 1940s, a big white ball would be brought down from a mast at noon everyday, so that people could align their watch to the time. Messengers would shout “Boul in tombé” (The ball has fallen) so that people would know it’s noon.

Not sure if those stories are true, and I certainly couldn’t spot any boats at the horizon… but one thing is for sure, the view is mighty nice!

Update: I came across this podcast from Futility closet explaining in great detail how the French engineer Etienne Bottineau seemed in fact to be able to predict the arrival of boats. The first 17 minutes of the podcast talks about him and his strange gift, although to this date no one knows how he actually did it.

From the top you have also quite a nice view of the western coastline of the island and of part of the inward towns.

 

Signal mountain
The ‘Corps de Garde’ and surrounding cities

 

I didn’t really manage to get a good photo of the western coastline with the lowering sun facing me (and me not quite knowing what settings to change on my camera!). For more photos of Signal mountain, go to carrotmadman6 photoblog where you can read about his walk up signal mountain by day and by night, along with plenty more landmarks and descriptions.

 

Signal mountain
The west coast of Mauritius Island

 

As we had taken a slow and casual walk up, we still had some stamina left to climb up the last stretch bringing us to the highest point of the mountain.

 

Signal mountain
A few more (steep) meters to the top!

 

After taking a couple of minutes to appreciate the view, we were on our way back the same way we had climbed up.

On our way back down, we could actually see the (nearly) whole path on the side of the mountain.

 

Signal mountain
The Signal mountain path

 

There was actually quite a lot more people going up while we went down and we realized that once the sun was low enough, the mountain provided a nice shade on the path. The locals seemed to know this, whereas we didn’t and started a little too early to take advantage of that shade.

As I wasn’t as focused on Port-Louis as on my way up, I also noticed some other things on the way down, like this grotto on the side of the road.

 

Signal mountain
A grotto on the side of the road

 

And before we knew it we were back at our starting point… which was now ‘the end’!

 

Signal mountain
End of the Signal mountain health track

 

From the parking, as we glimpsed a last time where we had been only a little while before, we saw that the sun was descending on the other side and it was time to head back home.

 

Signal mountain
The silhouette of Signal mountain

 

The whole road up is about 3 kms long and goes up 323 meters. As we were walking very casually, with many (many!) photo stops, we reached the top in about an hour and a half, but I’m guessing that if you walk up at a fast pace or a slow jog, it should only take about forty to forty five minutes.

We also had children with us, the youngest being 5/6 years old, and they managed the walk up and down without any difficulty, so don’t hesitate to bring the kids along when you go.

 

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