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Hiking Black River Gorges National Park Mauritius

by Steph

As one of the best places for hiking in Mauritius, the Black River Gorges National Park is home to over 60 km of hiking trails ranging from easy to more strenuous. 

These gorgeous trails will take you through a verdant forest dotted with mountain peaks, viewpoints, and waterfalls, some of which are hidden deep into the gorge while others are easily accessible with minimum effort. It’s definitely one of the best places to visit in South Mauritius!

Covering an area of 6,574 hectares which represents about 3.5% of Mauritius Island, the Black River Gorges is home to several rare endemic birds including the Echo Parakeet, Pink Pigeon and Mauritius Kestrel and over 300 species of plants and animals. 

In this guide, I’ll go through some of the best hiking trails in Black River National Park. I’ve hiked all of these personally except for the Parakeet and Mare Longue trails but plan on hitting those in the near future. And, I’ll update this blog post as soon as I complete the remaining hikes.

Hiking to Cascade 500 Pieds in Black River Gorges National Park Mauritius
Cascade 500 Pieds

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Black River Gorges National Park Hiking Trails

There are several entrances to the national park but four main ones which I’ll go through below – Gorges Viewpoint, Alexandra Falls Viewpoint, Petrin Information Center, and Black River Visitor Center. The park rangers who work at the two information centers located at Black River (exact GPS location) and Petrin (exact GPS location) can provide details about the hiking trails and have several maps of the national park.

If you’re wondering how much is the entrance fee to Black River Gorges, you’ll be pleased to know that it’s completely free to hike in the national park, making it the perfect activity for those traveling Mauritius on a budget.

Most of the trails are well-signed and color-coded, so hiring a guide isn’t necessary unless you want to hike deeper into the gorge.

Need a guide? Book your guided hike to Black River Gorges here

Note: I’ve categorized the hiking trails according to their trailhead locations for ease of reference. So, here are the best hiking trails in Black River Gorges National Park!

river flowing down into a waterfall at Cascade 500 Pieds Black River Gorges
Natural infinity pool at Cascade 500 Pieds

Black River Gorges Viewpoint

  • Facilities: parking lot, picnic area, toilet
  • Hiking trails: Trochetia, Black River Peak, and Parakeet

For those who don’t intend on hiking in the Black River Gorges National Park but still want to take in the incredible views, visiting the Gorges viewpoint might prove to be a good alternative. 

In my opinion, it’s one of the most spectacular viewpoints in Mauritius with several layers of mountains covered by a thick canopy of lush green forest!

layers of mountains covered by green vegetation at Black River Gorges Viewpoint
Gorge viewpoint

It was pouring rain when I was there and a very thick fog was blocking the view. Luckily, the rain stopped a few minutes later and the fog cleared up to reveal the spectacular landscape and I was able to see a very thin waterfall flowing from the right side of the gorge.

I wanted to hike along the Trochetia trail found on the right but unfortunately, the path was completely blocked off by a group of monkeys. After three scary encounters with monkeys in Thailand, I decided it was best to not venture there on that day. 

If you’re looking for an alternate route to Trochetia trail, you can start from Plaine Champagne road. The trail route is marked on the maps.me app, so you can use this to find your way.

a thin waterfall trickling along the cliff of the gorge
View of the waterfall from Gorges viewpoint

Piton de la Petite Rivière Noire (Black River Peak)

  • Total distance covered: 6 km
  • Duration: 1.5-2 hours one way
  • Level: Moderate

At 828 meters, the Black River Peak (also known as Piton de la Petite Rivière Noire) overlooks Le Morne Brabant, La Tourelle du Tamarin, and the beautiful bay of Black River. 

The trailhead is located about 400 meters from the Gorges viewpoint where you can park your car. 

The trail route is marked on both Google Maps and maps.me, making it easy to find your way. The hike is quite easy with only a gradual incline until you get close to the summit where the path becomes steeper. 

The last section is very slippery and you’ll have to use ropes to climb all the way up, so it’s not a hike that you would want to do on a rainy day. 

view of mountains and ocean from Black River Peak
View from the summit of Black River Peak

Parakeet Trail

  • Total distance covered: 8 km
  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Level: Moderate to strenuous 

This is a point to point hike that takes you from Black River Visitor Center to Plaine Champagne or the other way round. If you start at the Black River Visitor Center, follow the purple dots for Parakeet trail or start about 50 meters from the Plaine Champagne Police Post

I haven’t personally done this hike, so I don’t know the real difficulty level but I saw a sign at the Petrin Information Center which said that it’s a strenuous hike. The trail route is marked on maps.me.

Alexandra Falls Viewpoint

  • Facilities: Parking lot, picnic area, toilet
  • Hiking trails: Alexandra Falls, Cascade 500 Pieds, and Mont Cocotte

Alexandra Falls

  • Duration: 10-15 minutes one way
  • Level: Moderate to strenuous

Although the Alexandra Falls viewpoint might be one of the most popular places to visit at the Black River Gorges NP, most people don’t know that you can actually hike down to the base of the waterfall. 

The hike down is short (about 10 minutes) but very steep and strenuous, so a guide is highly recommended for less experienced hikers.

Even if you don’t want to hike down, you can still see the top section of the waterfall from the viewpoint.

For more details on how to get there, you can read my guide to hiking Alexandra Falls here.

Bottom section of Alexandra Falls Mauritius
Alexandra Falls

Related post: Complete Guide to Hiking Alexandra Falls

Cascade 500 Pieds

  • Total distance covered: 4 km
  • Duration: 30 minutes one way
  • Level: Easy to Moderate

Dropping from 500ft (152m), Cascade 500 Pieds (also known as Cascade des Galets) is the tallest waterfall in Mauritius. The hike is fairly easy, taking only about 30 minutes to reach the top of the waterfall where you’ll get an incredible view of the south coast. 

You’ll also find a natural infinity pool here which is the perfect spot to cool off after a hike.

Most people end their hike at the top but if you want to go all the way down, you’ll need to hire a guide. For more details on how to get to Cascade 500 Pieds, you can read this guide.

two columns of water flowing into the valley covered with lush greenery at Cascade 500 Pieds
Cascade 500 Pieds

Related post: Hiking to Cascade 500 Pieds: Complete guide

Mont Cocotte

  • Total distance covered: 4 km
  • Duration: 30 minutes one way
  • Level: Easy to Moderate

Mont Cocotte is one of the shortest hikes in Black River Gorges that’s suitable for beginner hikers. The trail is easy to follow with only a steep incline close to the summit where you’ll get an incredible view of the lush hills and turquoise ocean. 

The hike takes only about 30 minutes to the summit from the Alexandra Falls viewpoint, making it perfect for those who are short on time.

From the Alexandra Falls viewpoint, take the path opposite the sign showing a map of the national park. Continue straight ahead for about 20-25 minutes until you see a tree on your right which has been marked with red paint.

Go through the narrow path surrounded by tall pine trees until you reach an intersection. Turn left and continue along the trail until you reach the top. There are two viewpoints at the top, one directly opposite the trail and another on the left.

view of rolling hills and forest from Mont Cocotte summit
View from the summit of Mont Cocotte

Petrin Information Center

  • Facilities: Parking lot, picnic area, toilet
  • Hiking trails: Macchabee Forest Loop, Macchabee viewpoint, Colophane, Les Mares, Brise Fer Peak and Mare Longue

This is one of the two information centers in the Black River Gorges. You can visit the information center to refer to the maps and hiking trails starting from this point. 

The parking lot is quite small, so it might quickly fill up during the weekend. If you didn’t get a parking spot, you can leave your car across the road where you’ll find a much bigger parking lot.

There’s also a small garden with wooden tables and chairs, making it perfect for a picnic with friends and family.

wooden tables and benches in the middle of a forest at Petrin Mauritius
Picnic area at Petrin

Macchabee Forest Loop Trail

  • Total distance covered: 8 km
  • Duration: 3 hours 
  • Level: Moderate

This 8-km loop trail takes you along Macchabee Forest, Mare aux Joncs Waterfall, and back to Petrin Information Center.

The path is well defined with clear signs at each intersection. So, you can’t get lost as long as you stay on the trail.

Map of the Macchabee Forest Loop trail
Map of the Macchabee Forest Loop trail

From Petrin Information Center, follow the purple dots for Macchabee Forest Loop Trail. You’ll reach the first viewpoint after about 15 minutes. There are a few other viewpoints ahead until you reach a fork in the path. You can either turn left or continue straight. 

I opted to go straight and found myself walking along a relatively flat trail surrounded by tall trees. About halfway through, there was a slight descend which gradually became steeper as I got closer to Mare aux Joncs Waterfall. It took me about 1h10min to reach the top of the waterfall. 

From there, you’ll get a clear view of the mountain ridges and the river cascading down to form Mare aux Joncs waterfall.

View of the river and mountain ridges from the top of Mare aux Joncs waterfall
View from the top of Mare aux Joncs waterfall

The most challenging part will be the second half of the loop due to the very steep incline. You’ll have to scramble over roots and boulders and hold on to trees to make your way up. 

After a short but intense 20 minutes walk, you’ll finally emerge out of the forest and onto Macchabee trail. Take the right for Macchabee viewpoint (15 minutes walk) or left to go back to Petrin.

hiking path flanked by tall trees
Macchabee hiking trail

Related post: 22 hikes to do in Mauritius

Macchabee Trail Viewpoint

  • Total distance covered: 10 km
  • Duration: 1 hour one way
  • Level: Easy to Moderate (depending on where you start the hike)

This is hands down the best viewpoint in the Black River Gorges National Park! To get to Macchabee viewpoint, you can either start from the Black River Visitor Center or Petrin Information Center. The latter is easier since you’ll be starting your hike from a high elevation while the hike from Black River has a much steeper incline. 

view of mountains and forest from Macchabee viewpoint Mauritius
Macchabee viewpoint

From Petrin, follow the white dots for Macchabee trail until you reach an intersection (refer back to Macchabee Forest Loop Trail). Take the left and continue along the trail until you reach the Macchabee Kiosk and viewpoint. 

From there you get an incredible view of the gorge, Tourelle du Tamarin and Tamarin Bay. I even got the chance to spot an Echo Parakeet, one of Mauritius’ rare endemic birds!

You can continue along the path that leads down to the Black River Visitor Center or head back to Petrin.

wooden kiosk at Macchabee viewpoint in Black River Gorges Mauritius
Macchabee Kiosk

Les Mares Trail

  • Total distance covered: about 8 km
  • Duration: 1 hour one way
  • Level: Easy

Les Mares trail is one of the less popular hikes in the gorges. The trail is flat and easy to follow, making it a great choice if you’re hiking with kids. The trailhead is found at Petrin and you just have to follow the green dots for Les Mares trail. 

About ¾ of the way, you’ll reach an intersection with a sign showing the way to Le Mares roundabout and Plaine Champagne trail. Turn left to get to Les Mares roundabout (this is where the hike ends).

If you turn right, you’ll reach Plaine Champagne waterfall in about 15 minutes. Keep in mind that the path is usually muddy, so good hiking shoes are a must!

view of mountains and forest from the top of Plaine Champagne waterfall
Top section of Plaine Champagne waterfall

Brise Fer Mountain

  • Total distance covered: 14 km
  • Duration: about 2 hours one way
  • Level: Moderate 

Brise Fer Mountain is another great hike to add to your bucket list. I did this hike about 3 years ago so unfortunately, the exact directions are not that fresh in my memory.

From what I recall, you have to start from Petrin and follow the Macchabee Forest Loop trail until it merges with Mare Longue trail. 

Instead of going left to the top of Mare aux Joncs waterfall, take the right and continue along Mare Longue trail until you reach an intersection. This is where you’ll have to turn left. The path becomes gradually steeper until you reach the summit. 

For more details, I highly recommend downloading the maps.me app.

view of Le Morne Brabant and ile aux Benitiers from the summit of Brise Fer Mauritius
View from the summit of Brise Fer Mountain

Mare Longue Loop Trail 

  • Total distance covered: 12 km
  • Duration: 4 hours 
  • Level: Moderate 

I haven’t done this hike yet but it’s basically a loop trail that starts from Petrin and goes through Macchabee forest to Mare Longue reservoir. The trail is well-marked so you just need to follow the yellow dots.

Black River Visitor Center

  • Facilities: Parking lot, picnic area, toilet
  • Hiking trails: Plateau Remousse viewpoint, Mare aux Joncs Waterfall (bottom section), Macchabee, Pilgrim, and Colophane

Plateau Remousse Viewpoint

  • Total distance covered: 5.6 km
  • Duration: 45 minutes one way
  • Level: Easy to Moderate

If you’re looking for a short but scenic alternative to Macchabee trail, make sure to hike to Plateau Remousse viewpoint. This relatively easy hike has some of the most stunning views in Mauritius! 

Because it’s completely surrounded by lush forests, hills and mountains, Plateau Remousse has become one of my favorite hiking trails in the Black River Gorges! 

The best way to get there is to start from the Black River Visitor Center. Make your way into the forest until you reach an intersection and a sign showing the way to Macchabee trail and Plateau Remousse. From there, follow the white dots for Macchabee trail until you reach a river and a bridge.

girl enjoying the view from Plateau Remousse viewpoint in Mauritius
Plateau Remousse viewpoint

Walk to the other side of the bridge and turn left towards the uphill path. The trail weaves through the forest until you reach the first viewpoint on your right. 

You’ll also find another path on your left but instead of taking this one, keep walking straight ahead until you reach a sign pointing to Plateau Remousse viewpoint. You then have to turn right to reach the viewpoint.

mountains covered by green forest at Plateau Remousse viewpoint
Plateau Remousse

Mare aux Joncs Waterfall

  • Total distance covered: 6 km
  • Duration: 1.5-2 hours one way
  • Level: Moderate

Start your hike from the Black River Visitor Center until you reach an intersection and a sign showing the way to Mare aux Joncs waterfall. Turn left and follow the green and orange markers on the stones and trees.

The path is quite flat and covered by tall trees, providing enough shade along the way. It then becomes slightly steeper just before reaching the waterfall. If it hasn’t been raining recently, the waterfall will most probably be a trickle. 

There’s also an alternate trail that leads you to the top of the waterfall (refer to the Macchabee Forest Loop Trail above for more details).

bottom section of Mare aux Joncs waterfall
Mare aux Joncs Waterfall

Related post: 16 beautiful waterfalls to visit in Mauritius

Some tips before hitting the trails

  1. Don’t forget to bring mosquito repellent especially if you’re hiking to the waterfalls.
  2. There’s no bus stop near the trail entrance, so you need to arrange for a taxi or rent a car.
  3. Wear good hiking shoes as the trails are usually slippery.
  4. Since part of the national park is situated in the central part of Mauritius, the temperature tends to be cooler with a higher chance of rainfall, so make sure to bring a jacket and warm clothes.
  5. Bring your own food and water since there are no shops nearby.

Where to stay near Black River Gorges

Chazal Ecotourism

For those who want to try out glamping, Chazal Ecotourism is a great choice. It’s situated in the village of Chemin Grenier, about a 15 minutes’ drive from Petrin Visitor Center and Alexandra Falls viewpoint.

The location is beautiful, with a river, beautiful hiking trails, and waterfalls close by. The tents are well-equipped with a double bed and either two or three single beds (depending on the room type), plus you get your very own private bathroom and a balcony overlooking the river.

Book your stay at Chazal Ecotourism here

Green Cottage Chamarel

Set high atop a hill in the village of Chamarel, with great views overlooking the whole valley, Green Cottage Chamarel is for those who crave tranquility while being completely surrounded by nature. 

The beautiful cottage is located about a 30 minutes’ drive from Black River Visitor Center or 20 minutes from Alexandra Falls viewpoint.

Book your stay at Green Cottage Chamarel here

Vanilla House 

Situated only a 10 minutes’ drive from the Black River Visitor Center, Vanilla House is a great budget option for those looking for a nature getaway in close proximity to the national park. 

As soon as you get there, you’ll already feel like you’re already in the middle of a peaceful forest! The location is perfect with easy access to restaurants, supermarkets, and beaches. You can read my review of Vanilla House here or book your stay directly on booking.com.

Book your stay at Vanilla House here

Hopefully, this guide inspired you to try at least one of these Black River Gorges hiking trails. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments below.

Read more about hiking in Mauritius here:

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Hiking trails Black River Gorges National Park Mauritius

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