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PRACTICAL INFO


Geography

Mauritius is located east of Madagascar, approximately 2000 km to the south-east coast of Africa on 20°S, 57.5E. Mauritius is 45km in width and 65km in length, and has 330 km of coastline. Most of its coast have white sandy beaches and is sheltered by a coral reef barrier, thus forming crystal clear lagoons, which have made the island a dream destination for a long time.


History

Mauritius is of volcanic origin, and has been known to the Arabs as early as the 10th century, but officially «discovered» in 1505 by the Portuguese navigator Pedro Mascarenhas. The island was occupied successively by the Dutch (1598-1712) and the French (1715-1810), and was ceded to Great Britain in 1814 through the Treaty of Paris. Mauritius became Independent on 12 March 1968. The overall population is estimated at around 1.5 million.


Language

Most educated people in Mauritius are fluent in both English and French, while Creole and French would be the main languages spoken everyday. A few oriental languages are also spoken.


Climate

The temperature on the coastal areas varies between 22°C in winter and 34°C in summer. The sea temperature varies between 22°C and 27°C. In the central part of the island, the maximum daytime temperature varies from about 19°C in August to about 26°C in February. The western and northern regions are warmer and relatively drier than the East and the South. In summer months, bring your beach & casual wear, and in the winter months (June -September), some light woollen clothes for cooler evenings.


Entry requirements

A passport (valid for at least 6 months), return ticket, and proof of sufficient funds. Visas are not required for nationals of EU countries and most Commonwealth countries for stays up to 3 months. To be on the safe side, you may inquire with us by email. Visas are not required by passengers in transit if they continue their journey to another country within 72 hours.


Health

Normally, no vaccination is required, but travellers arriving from areas where yellow fever cases are reported, a yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for those over 1 year of age.


Entry formalities

At SSR International Airport, you will be asked to fill in a form giving your destination address in Mauritius (If a villa is booked with us, its postal address will be sent to you). Allowed Duty Free: 250 cigarettes / 50 cigars / 250g of tobacco, 1 litre of spirit / 2 litres of wine or beer, and 25cl of perfume.
Drug trafficking is illegal and carries very heavy penalties.


Airport tax

Remember that on your departure from Mauritius you will have to pay Rs 300 as airport tax.


Culture & Religion

Mauritius is a blend of diverse cultures and religions which our immigrant population brought from their ancestral countries. Their festivities are celebrated in a spirit of peace and harmony throughout the year.
The Cavadi festival is celebrated in January/February. Bodies are pierced with needles, tongues and cheeks with pins, devotees in a trance carry the Cavadi (a wooden arch, covered with flowers and with a pot of milk at each end) on their shoulders as penitence.
Divali, the Festival of Lights is celebrated in a spirit of pure joy around October/November. Small clay lamps, lit at sunset, decorate the walls, balconies and yards, but nowadays, these clay lights have been replaced by sets of electric lights which sometimes cover the whole house. Divali represents the victory of truth (light) over ignorance (darkness).
On September 9, every year, Mauritians of all faiths walk or drive towards the tomb of the Blessed Jacques Désiré Laval, the “Apostle of the Black People” at Ste-Croix, Port-Louis. The belief in Père Laval, to whom powers of healing are attributed, reminds us of the pilgrimage at Lourdes in France.
Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated on the 4th day of the lunar month of August/September by Hindus in honour of the birth of Ganesha, God of wisdom.
The Id-El-Fitr festival marks the end of the Ramadan - the fasting period for Muslim people.
Ougadi is the Telugu New Year and is usually celebrated in March.
The Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) is celebrated each year on a different date, due to the differences between the lunar and the solar calendars. Red, the symbol of happiness, is the main colour of the day. Firecrackers are set off to drive away the evil spirits It is believed that food offerings will ensure that the following year will be plentiful. The traditional ‘Wax’ cakes are distributed to parents and friends.
Wear appropriate clothing, and show due respect. If visiting a mosque, remove your shoes.


Banks

Banks will be found in most cities & towns, and also in all tourist area. The opening hours are as follows: Monday to Thursday: 9.15 am – 3.15 pm.  Friday: 9.15 am – 3.30 pm. On Friday, a few banks close at 5.00 pm. Some banks open on Saturday from 9.15 am to 11.15 am.
At SSR Airport, banks are always open at arrival and departure of international flights.
The currency is the Mauritian Rupee. The exchange rates have varied a lot lately. They used to be roughly
Rs 35-38 to the € (Euro), and Rs 55-58 to the £ (GBP), but in late 2006, the value of the Rupee has gone down a lot.


Credit cards & Travellers cheques

Mastercard and Visa are accepted by all banks, hotels, restaurants and tourist shops. Diners Club and American Express are also widely accepted. Most banks have ATM’s open around the clock.
Travellers cheques may be exchanged at banks, hotels and authorized dealers.


Driving

All vehicles are driven on the left-hand side of the road, and they must qive way to the right at roundabouts. Foreigners with a driving licence issued in their respective countries may drive during their stay in Mauritius.


Electrical equipment

The electrical supply is 220/240 volts AC, 50Hz. The standard plug used is UK-type 3-pin (13 amp).


Medical services

Public medical facilities are free. Private clinics provide medical services for a fee. Doctors and Pharmacies are present in most tourist resort areas.


Newspaper

Most local daily and weekly newspapers are written in French. Only one weekly local paper is in English. On the other hand, many imported newspapers and magazines in both French and English are available.


Nudism

No hotel permits nude sunbathing on beaches. Topless sunbathing is sometimes tolerated.


Shopping

Monday to Saturday:  Shopping hours are approximately from 9.30 am to 7.00 pm. Some shops are open on Sundays and public holidays from 10.00 am to noon. There are duty free shops in most hotels and also in modern shopping centres like Caudan Waterfront (Port Louis). Curepipe, Floréal Square, Happy World House and Orchard Centre offer a wide choice of products. Please note that shops close on Saturday afternoons in Port-Louis, and Thursday afternoon in Rose-Hill, Curepipe and Quatre-Bornes.
Items that are in great demand due to their unbeatable prices are: Models of old ships, pullovers and knitwear, leading brands of shirts, trousers, suits, dresses, suits for women, shorts or swimwear, pottery, basketwork, embroidery, cut stones and recycled glass.


International time

Mauritius is 4 hours (3 hours in summer) ahead of Greenwich Mean Time and 3 hours (2 hours in summer) ahead of mid-European Time.


VAT

A value added tax of 15% is payable on goods and services including restaurant bills.


Postal service

Post office hours are as follows. Monday to Friday: 9.00 am - 11.00 am & 12.00 am - 4.00 pm
Saturday: 8.00 am -11.00 am


Temperature

Measured in Degrees Celcius. June to August are the coldest months (16-24) and December to February the hottest (28-32).



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