Overview of La Vanille Nature Park
Created in 1985, The Vanilla Nature Park is a park covering a surface of five hectares in the south of Mauritius, close to the village of Rivière des Anguilles.
Set in a tropical forest, in the midst of exotic fauna and flora, the park comprises of a large number of crocodiles grouped according to age and species in secured enclosures. La Vanille Crocodile Park also showcases a diverse range of animal species, including giant tortoises in an open enclosure, iguanas, deer, and wild pigs, amongst others.
You can also learn more about various insects and colourful butterflies at the park’s Insectarium that hosts one of the largest collections of insects in the world; a 30-year-old collection by Jacques Siedleck of over 20,000 species of insects and butterflies originating from all five continents.
Fun-loving children are welcome to indulge themselves in the specially designed play area that includes various entertaining activities and a mini petting farm. For lunch, you can head to Le Crocodile Affamé (the Famished Crocodile) restaurant that offers an exotic menu featuring crocodile meat dishes as their specialty along with other conventional meals.
At the Ammonites museum, the latest addition to the park, you will get to explore a world-class exhibit of hundreds of ammonite fossils from Madagascar. It displays the fascinating diversity, biology, and means of collecting and processing Ammonites, one of the most popular and easily recognized of all fossils.
Historical Background of La Vanille Nature Park
The park was created in 1985, and its name honours the old vine cultivated in the valley where the reserve is located. Mauritian hospitality, preservation of nature, and welfare of the animals are privileged in this magical setting, where experienced, knowledgeable guides will take you on an unforgettable visit and where you will be able to have an insight on what Mauritius was like hundreds of years ago.
La Vanille Nature Park Visit Plan
- The Reserve
- Tortoise compound
- Turtle nursery
- Fossil Museum
- Interactive farm
Visiting the Park
You can choose to have a guided walk through the park or you can meander through the park on your own following the clearly marked paths with informative panels. If you are visiting with your kids, then it’s probably best that you explore on your own, as this will allow you more freedom on what to visit and when.
During your exploration of the maze-like jungle you will come across a variety of different compounds encompassing Nile crocodiles of different ages and sizes. If you are lucky enough to be there at the feeding time, you can see the large reptiles being fed from a rope or even get to feed the tortoises.
The park hosts the largest Giant Aldabra tortoises’ centre in the world, with more than 700 tortoises of all ages roaming freely. You will also get to see a number of iguanas basking in the sun on the banks of the river running through the forest, where you can also spot turtles.
Besides the big range of tortoises and crocodiles, you will find a range of animals including monkeys, deer, bats and many more! Furthermore, you can also visit the park’s insectarium that holds a 30-year old collection of over 20,000 species of insects originating from all five continents.
Finally, do not miss the petting farm and fun playground for the kids!
The Tortoise Compound
Giant tortoises were once plentiful in Mauritius but were driven to the verge of extinction as sailors hunted them for food. The park has not only saved them from extinction but also gave them the ideal habitat to procreate. Some of the tortoises residing there are over a hundred years old.
The tortoises are very friendly, so do not hesitate to pet them or even take selfies with them. Since all the tortoises are either ex-pets or born and bred in captivity at La Vanille Nature Park, they are very social and perfectly okay being around humans.
Even as you stand and observe them, you might see some of them readily coming up to you.
The reserve houses an Insectarium, which is one of the world’s largest private collection of butterflies and insects. It has more than 26 000 species and 30 000 specimens from 5 continents. Mauritius is home to 40 species of butterfly, of which 5 are endemic, and here visitors will have the opportunity to see some of these beautiful and rare butterflies. The owner and curator of this impressive collection is Jacques Siedlecki. It has taken more than 30 years to collect all of these specimens.
The Restaurant – “Le Crocodile Affamé”
The restaurant “Hungry Crocodile” welcomes you for a succulent lunch. A selection of local Mauritian dishes can be chosen “A La carte”. For those who want to taste crocodile meat you can choose one of the dishes made by the chef.
The Chef will offer you a variety of Mauritian dishes and others made with crocodile such as fritters of crocodile and you have also a choice of snacks, like toasted ham & cheese sandwich for a little hollow.