30 Aug Otentik – Camping in Mauritius
There are days when one needs a moment or two to get lost in the green. Glamping , a new concepts with a touch of comfort, is quickly gathering momentum. In Mauritius, Otentik’s tent village offers this novel camping style, with a distinctively Mauritian flair, as well as a range of outdoor activities. A lodge experience out in Nature.
Down the coastal road towards the South-East, at the entrance to the quaint village of Deux Freres, a property slopes down gently to the banks of Grand River South East, the longest river in Mauritius. Here, thick kaki tents, mounted on wooden platforms, perfectly mix into the landscape. Every detail has been set up using green and recycling methods: recycled wood for the bathroom walls, sinks made from pieces of wood or stone, solar panels providing electricity to all the tents, vegetable gardens and a little green islets gracing the grassy land.
The tents all overlook the estuary and a handful of roofs of the village’s houses. Tents on the site come with a few pleasant surprises, comfortable beds, large openings that offer gentle natural ventilation, rustic but comfortable bathrooms. Mosquito nets and all the essentials for a pleasant night in the open air. Reason enough to go green and get back to basics, all to the sound of nature and the distant rumble of quiet village life.
At Otentik, the guests immediately feels like home. In the shade of the trees, a wide common area boast a massive wooden table open to one and all, leisure corners on raised platforms in the midst of trees and above the river, a terrace around the swimming pool and an open-air kitchen. Everyone is welcome behind the bar – the house trusts its guests. Cool drinks are free for all, all you need to do is note down your own tab in the little notebook on the counter.
Over at Otentik, authenticity is the order of the day. The project was born out of the imagination of Julien, who has travelled widely for two years and who has kept from the experience a love of nature and the simple things in life. He shares with Cedric the management and administration of the site. The guides, Jerome and Emmanuel, take care of the activities.
The two of three nights spent on the Otentik site are guaranteed to take one a thorough journey into nature. Hiking aficionados may want to attempt the trek up to Mont Beau Champ – The reward is to be found at the peak of the mountain with , on one side, a plunging view of the northern plains of the island, on the other the East Coast and the village of Trou d’Eau douce. From this observatory. The sight of a sun setting behind the mountains is just as spectacular as a moon rising over the ocean.
At the water side, the bed of the Grand River South East is wide enough to host a range of water activities. If you are an early-riser, you may take advantage of the beautiful pink morning sky and the peacefulness of the river to do some kayaking, after a continental breakfast served under the trees. You can also travel up the river in a stand-up paddle boat, along the steep rises bursting with tropical vegetation, while listening for the sound of monkeys tumbling down the branches in search of food.
Busy during the day from the traffic of outing boats, Grand River South East is known for its beautiful waterfall in the nook of basalt rock cliffs. Residents of Otentik usually prefer to visit the waterfall early in the morning or in the afternoon for assured peace and quiet.
If you feel like pushing the adventure even further, the guides will gladly take you for a spot of kayaking in the winding mangroves of ilot Mangenie, or for an afternoon of sunbathing on Ile aux Cerfs. Another option is to take a tour of the sandy stretch of the ile aux Flamants. The waters of clear and sparkling blue, invite one to take a dip or try some scuba diving to admire the magnificent corals that host schools of fish, small octopi and seashells.
Back from the outing, it will be time to take your seat around the long wooden table, ready to savour a delicious homemade lunch. Christelle, who runs the kitchen, will cook up the Mauritian meals, each tastier than the other: on today’s menu, calamari, freshly caught in the morning and sauté with onions, chicken curry, and sausage in a tomato based sauce , also locally called Rougaille, accompanied by a plethora of chutneys. The Otentik table is well worth the trip, even if you’re not a resident.
Late afternoons are the lying in the shade of a tree with a book breathing the fresh iodized air, spiced up by the peppery tones of the aromatic herbs in the garden and the rich smell of fruit trees, Fresh air has never been so wholesome.