Le Morne Brabant - Mauritius
Le Morne Brabant Overview
Le Morne Brabant Mountain, situated as part of the Le Morne peninsula at the extreme southwestern tip of Mauritius is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Mauritius and a UNESCO World Heritage Site
This majestic basaltic mountain with a summit of 556 metres (1,824 ft.) above sea level, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that bears enormous cultural significance for the islanders. The summit covers an area of over 12 hectares (30 acres) with many caves and overhangs on the steep slopes. It is largely surrounded by the magnificent Mauritian lagoon and it is one of the must visit tourist sites in Mauritius.
Le Morne Brabant - UNESCO World Heritage Site
Since its inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2008, Le Morne Brabant was closed to the public but after much deliberation, it was officially reopened to the public in 2016. The majestic Morne Brabant mountain has been welcoming thousands of local and foreign visitors ever since. According to the Director of the World Heritage Centre, Dr Mechtild Rössler, "this opening represents a major achievement towards increasing the enhancement and conservation of the site."
Le Morne’s cultural landscapes is an exceptional testimony to the marronage and resistance to slavery, as the mountain was being used as a fortress to shelter escaped slaves. It is the most important slave site and maroon refuge in Mauritius and it is intimately tied with universal ideals of individual freedom and resistance to oppression. The mountain also holds two rare plants, the Mandrinette and the Boucle d'Oreille.
Le Morne Brabant - Symbol of Freedom
Le Morne Mountain represents marronage and its impact in Mauritius. It is a symbol of the slaves’ fight for freedom, their suffering, and their sacrifice. The countries from which the slaves came from are: the African mainland, Madagascar, and India- these people have been represented culturally by Mauritians through shared memories and oral traditions.
Indeed, Mauritius, an important stopover in the eastern slave trade, also came to be known as the “Maroon republic” because of the large number of escaped slaves who lived on Le Morne Brabant Mountain. Maroon slaves lived in harsh conditions including, lack of food, shelter and the fear of being discovered. The punishment for marronage was very harsh and it included whipping, torture and even death.
It is said that after the British passed the Slavery Abolition Act in 1834, a group of soldiers and police travelled to Le Morne in order to inform runaway slaves that they were finally free. But on seeing the authorities approaching, the slaves went frantic with the fear of being dragged back to slavery and so they climbed to the top of Le Morne Brabant’s cliff and jumped to their deaths. Hundreds of slaves chose freedom in death rather than face the horrors of dehumanisation in the form of slavery.
Hiking Le Morne Brabant
Nature lovers should definitely try the Le Morne Brabant’s impressive 3.5 kms hiking trail for having a more immersive experience in the area’s exoticism. You will walk through luxuriant green vegetation consisting of gigantic endemic trees as well as smaller exotic plants.
The Le Morne Brabant hiking trail invites nature lovers and adventurers for an exciting hiking experience. The hike can last between three to four hours, whereby you will be guided by professionals with EFR/WFA certification. You may also get access to the second part of the mountain which is only accessible through authorized guides.
As you hike your way to the top, you will find a gigantic, basalt rock peak dotted with caves which once harbored runaway slaves. Towards the summit, you will encounter a rocky hill, which can be quite a challenging climb and requires special equipment. As you gradually move to the summit you will easily spot the huge metal cross which marks the highest accessible point. Your endurance will be rewarded on reaching the top of the mountain with a truly breathtaking view over the Indian Ocean and Mauritius’ beautiful southern region. Take this chance to marvel at the absolutely stunning views of the nearby island Ile aux Benitiers, Le Morne beach, and other spectacular surrounding areas.