A glimpse into paradise

Sakal Times
Saturday, 11 August 2018

For TV actor Gunjan Utreja, a holiday in Mauritius is a mix of both adventure and leisure time. Apart from the beaches, he says, a visit to Casela Nature Park is a must

Crystal blue waters, pristine beaches and a relaxing vibe — Mauritius is all this and more. I have visited the place a few times and I feel it has a magnetic appeal. From living in a villa in the middle of a jungle, to taking a dip in the villa’s infinity pool, Mauritius always manages to bring in a relaxing yet adventurous feel to my vacation. 

I was living at Bel Ombre, a lush green property near a beach. Living luxuriously in a jungle takes the word ‘vacationing’ to a whole new level.

The best feeling is being pampered by a variety of cuisines, ranging from French and African to desi delicacies.  

Shopping at a local vegetable market and learning to cook some authentic Mauritian cuisine was an experience I indulged in. I even had to cook one meal for my family on the trip. Mauritian food is a combination of African, French, Chinese and Indian cuisines. I made Lentils in Rougaille and Fish Curry with local infused flavours.

The routes to the beaches were usually beautiful trekking routes. At the waterfront, I usually face the dilemma to either enjoy the clear blue waves of the ocean or soak into the calmer lagoons, which seem like a beautiful geographical marvel. These splendid water bodies with crystal blue waters and a hint of green were earlier a part of the ocean but have now retired into something that defines serenity. 

While trying to overcome the dilemma, I had an epiphany over the journey the water would have taken — from the ocean to the lagoon. We are all a part of an ocean wanting to end up in a lagoon. Travelling really helps me understand myself better!

Mauritians — the local people and their culture — truly define the beauty of the place. During my stay, I came across some of the most hospitable people. Constantly being assisted by the locals, there never really seemed a need for a guide. 

Travelling within the islands and to other islands isn’t cheap and public transport isn’t reliable, so I rented a convertible Mini Cooper. Driving around with an open hood in a country with lush green surroundings and clear blue sky is an experience like no other. Every few minutes we came across a different scenic view, which deserved a moment to absorb the abundance of natural beauty.

During this trip, I went to one of the most beautiful manmade nature parks in Mauritius, where in we opted for a 30-minute interaction with lions. Unlike tigers in Pattaya and other places, the lions at Casela weren’t drugged. At any point of time, there are six lions inside the premises and a group of six people are allowed to enter. The lions can freely move around. People are briefed about the breed, their behaviour pattern, and how to behave around them.

Entering the arena, we were taught how to deal with them so that they don’t feel threatened and a friendly bond can be established between us and the lions. I always had this general notion that the lion is the ferocious king of the jungle. However, their moody, lazy nature took me by surprise. They crave love and don’t even bother to roar unless they feel threatened. Anyone visiting Mauritius must have the Casela visit in their to-do list.

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