Mauritius - Facts for the traveller, when to go, events
Facts for the traveller for MauritiusVisas: All visitors are required to have a passport and onward ticket in order to enter the country. Most visitors do not require visas for stays of up to 90 days. Contact a Mauritian embassy prior to your visit.
Health risks: Malaria (There is a slight risk here)
Time: GMT/UTC + 4
Dialling Code: 230
Electricity: 220V or 125V ,50Hz
Weights & measures: Metric
When to Go to Mauritius
Apart from the busy Christmas to New Year period, Mauritius doesn't really have a high or low season. The depths of Mauritian 'winter' occur from July to September, when daytime temperatures drop from sticky to balmy. With less rain and humidity, this is one of the choicest times to visit. Weatherwise, the least agreeable period is from January to April, when the long days can prove too hot and humid for some and the threat of cyclones is in the air. Visitors should be prepared to spend several days cooped up indoors during extra-heavy rains. December through March is the best time for diving, when the waters are at their clearest; June through August is best for surfing; and October through April is excellent for big game fishing, when the large predators feed close to shore.
With its host of cultures and multinational residents, it's no surprise that Mauritius celebrates an equally diverse number of holidays and special events. Teemeedee, a Hindu and Tamil fire-walking ceremony held in honour of various gods, takes place throughout the year but mostly in December and January. Hindus celebrate the major Thaipoosam Cavadee in January or February at temples throughout the island. Look for processions carrying flower-covered wooden arches and pots of milk, with devotees skewering their tongues and cheeks in homage to the second son of Lord Shiva. Around the same time, the resident Tamils mark the end of the harvest season by feeding rice pudding to decorated cows in the festival of Pongal, and Chinese New Year is celebrated with the standard barrage of fireworks and foodstuffs.
Maha Shivaratri occurs over three days in February and March and is the largest and most important Hindu festival outside of India. Most of the island's Hindu population makes a pilgrimage in honour of Lord Shiva to the holy volcanic lake Grand Bassin, where they make food sacrifices and stockpile vessels of the holy water. If you happen upon a celebration of Holi, the Hindu festival of colours, count on a good soaking: exuberant celebrants throw cupfuls of coloured powder and water on anyone in their path sometime in February or March. Independence/Republic Day is 12 March. Similar in intent to the teemeedee celebrations, Hindu and Tamil sword-climbing spectacles take place mostly between April and June. Père Laval Feast Day in September marks the anniversary of the Catholic convert-king's death, and pilgrims come from all over the world to his shrine at Ste-Croix to pray for miracle cures and such.
Muslims celebrate Eid-al-Fitr to mark the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, which is the ninth month of the lunar year. Though the date of Eid-al-Fitr varies from year to year - for the next few years, it's in January and is always a public holiday.