real life

A touch of Mauritius (and why you should visit).


By LANA HIRSCHOWITZ (Managing Editor of iVillage Australia)

There are certain memories from our childhood buried deep beneath the recesses of our day to day lives that don’t even surface during our adulthood. Not until something triggers them and suddenly it’s as fresh and exciting and as real as it happened just a minute ago..

For my husband Michael, touch powder evokes such a memory. Stick with me while I give you some background – touch powder is little like gunpowder tightly wrapped in foil that you step on and it “explodes” under your feet causing a huge noise and tiny sparks.

When Michael was young his parents frequently holidayed in Mauritius and when they returned to South Africa where he grew up they would bring him touch powder as a gift.  Explosives for a kid. Transported by plane. Perfect. This obviously became the stuff of which childhood memories are made.


Mauritius is an island off the East coast of Africa, it’s a lush tropical paradise and the resort destination of choice for hundreds of thousands of South African, European and increasingly Australian tourists looking for white sands, astonishing blue waters and resort-style opulence.

It is also the place where, according to my husband, they sell touch powder on every street corner.

When I was offered a press trip to Mauritius, the bottle top of Michael’s touch powder memory was released and the explosion with which it came back was bigger than any “pop” his touch powder has actually caused. “GO!” he said, “and bring us back some touch powder.”

The allure of explosions under his feet was enough to make him forget that he would have to be Mr Mum for a week. The thought of not making school lunches, dinner every night and housework was nothing compared to the fantasy of sandy white beaches, turquoise water and an intriguing and exciting cultural destination. I was hooked.

You could be forgiven though for thinking that I had come to Mauritius solely to look for touch powder because here I was some weeks later sitting in the home of a beautiful family watching Big Bang Theory in French and asking three children who had never laid eyes on me where I could buy explosives (relax – I knew their dad).

The kids were not rushing forward with answers but I think that’s credit to their very good education and exemplary manners rather than the fact they didn’t know where to buy explosives. (Fun Fact: education is free in Mauritus as is health care – which, unsurprisingly, makes for a very happy and peaceful population).

The search for explosives, er I mean gun powder, had taken me to some pretty spectacular locations.  I stayed in luxury hotels at Longbeach, Angsana, Heritage Le Telfair and Shanti Marice (read more about them here)  and had been wined and dined over magnificent meals.


The island is a real melting pot of cultures with foods from all of its major inhabitants available – so when I asked what typical Mauritian food was I got a LOT of different answers. Chinese? Indian? French? African? We even ate Japanese/Italian fusion.  And of course Dholl Poori, an Indian inspired pancake made of cooked, pureed and dried yellow split peas, served with a spicy chutney and vegetable pickles.


I had walked with lions – a truly unique experience where tourists and locals alike are given the very humbling experience of walking with lions (imported from Africa) in the wilds of a very first world zoo.

Picture huge open expanses of land where the lions are free to roam pretty much as close to nature as God intended (save for the fact that they are fed non-live animals so that they never learn to hunt ensuring that they always return to base camp to be fed).

I had parasailed over aquamarine blue waters off Ile Aux Cerfs and walked along the bottom of the ocean in the most amazing adventure that a claustrophobic person could ever experience. I have to admit I did doubt the chance of finding touch powder at the bottom of the ocean but one can never be to sure.

The beauty of the marine life and the tranquility of the waters more than made up for the fact that I wasn’t exploding gunpowder as I trampled through the waters like an astronaut on her very first encounter with zero gravity.

A catamaran trip to go snorkeling off the shores of Ile Aux Gabriel brought up no sightings of touch powder either but I was rewarded with the most idyllic day – hanging with boat operators who offered endless food, litres of rum and the kind of Caribbean music that makes you forget about anything but the rhythm of  the ocean that seems to beat through your veins. Oh and the blue, blue waters of the Indian Ocean.

There’s a lot to do in Mauritius when you’re not looking for touch powder.  But equally if you are looking for nothing to do – Mauritius is your answer.  The very laid back life style that is particular to island cultures allows you to simply be. To relax, to revive and to be at one with the spectacular surrounds.

I never did find touch powder. But what I did find was the touch of the most hospitable and beautiful Mauritian people. An island suited not just to honeymooners but to families, couples and friends. An island that offers the most spectacular sights, surrounds and activities.

You really should see it yourself. And I can guarantee that you’ll be safe from explosives but you might relive some of the wonder of your childhood.

Getting there: Air Mauritius flies from Perth to Mauritius 3 times a week.

Resort Accommodation: Click here.

Read more about Mauritius here.

Lana stayed courtesy of Tourism Mauritius

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