Life As a Nature Photographer on Mauritius | Travel Ideas I Lightfoot Travel
Stephanie Manuel says why you’ll want to take your camera to this tropical isle

Life on Mauritius is like living in a giant kaleidoscope. The island is an intoxicating melee of vibrant colours. Every time I step out of my door, I find inspiration. From the tropical birds high in the fruit trees or the ghost crabs peeking out of their burrows on the beach, there is always a fascinating encounter awaiting.

But what makes this place even more special, is that there are species here that don’t exist anywhere else. When I volunteered for a local nature conservation NGO, I learned about the importance of endemic species and the importance of preserving the island’s fragile ecosystem.

This was a pivotal step for me in my photography journey as it gave me the chance to improve my approach and communicate a more meaningful message. Not only was I witnessing nature’s amazing evolution, but my photographs would become a tool that would bridge the gap between experts and the public.

In Mauritius, we have only two seasons – it’s 27°C in the summer, which runs from October to March and around 18°C in the winter months that run from April to September. Natural light lasts from 6am to 6pm. However, as an outdoor photographer I always rise early so that I can shoot at sunrise. Heat, humidity, wind and rain can be a challenge, but I’ve learnt to cultivate plenty of patience. You can often see me waiting for hours in specific spots just to capture that perfect shot.

I feel lucky to live in a small village on the northern coast called Goodlands. The name itself gives a hint of how green and fertile the surroundings are. This place is perfect for a nature lover like me. In less than 15 minutes, I can drive to the nearest beach to go crab spotting among the sunny sand and azure water.

Nature is the ultimate teacher. It encourages you to train your eye and discover delicate patterns and intricate details. From the soft yellow petals of the hibiscus flower, to the dashing red plumage of the fody bird or the vibrant green veins of the elephant ear leaf – you have the ultimate photography muses around you.

frog

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Mauritius most famous inhabitant – the dodo – may be extinct, but as a photographer it is important to show what else is living in the jungle so that they don’t go the same way as this unfortunate creature. From flying foxes and geckos, to the pink pigeon and giant tortoises… We may not have big game in this part of Africa, but our animals are just as captivating. It has encouraged me to develop another skill that I have become very fond of – macro close-up photography.

It has given me many unexpected encounters. I have become fascinated by the smallest creatures in the jungle.  The busy yellow wasps that spend the summer months building their nests under leaves and in corners intrigue me. While they are primed to sting at any time, it has not stopped me from getting closer.

I have also become passionate about reptiles. One of my most favourite photography subjects is the day gecko. It seems to accept my presence and is a faithful model. It is one of the cutest little lizards you can imagine. A colourful and cheeky creature looking at you while swiftly preparing its next move.

Though living in Mauritius you don’t have to travel far to capture the perfect shot. My garden is often the location of some of my best shots. I have encouraged the wildlife to come closer to my home. I grow banana trees as I know that geckos and chameleons love to use it leaves to hide from the sun. I also grow wildflowers in the garden as they attract all sorts of insects such as butterflies and grasshoppers.

One of my most meaningful experiences as a nature photographer in Mauritius was when I joined a team of French naturalists and filmmakers for an intense week of shooting. We explored the island of Mauritius from south to north, filming key species and meeting nature experts. Our team captured numerous breathtaking moments, including diving with 19 eagle rays on the west coast and walking with giant tortoises in an endemic forest.  One day in particular still stands out in my mind. We flew into a private nature reserve by helicopter and woke to find hundreds of red-tailed tropical birds flying all around us.

Even though I have travelled around the island for many years, I am always eager to pack my camera for new adventures. It’s not hard to see why this island is called “Stella Clavisque Maris Indici” – “The star and key of the Indian Ocean”

Why Go To Mauritius
Why:

This tropical island is about to celebrate 50 years of independence in 2018. Luckily enough they have enough supplies of rum to keep the cocktails flowing.

Stay:

The One&Only Le Saint Geran has just relaunched after a huge makeover. All the suites have been revamped and it has also built a third swimming pool, a new club lounge. Luxury hotel company Jumeirah is also expected to open its first resort on the island in 2018.

Eat:

Looking for a little privacy? Then book the One&Only Tipi Private Dining Experience. The bohemian chic tipi comes with its own Parisian chandelier. The perfect place to dine under the stars.

Explore:

Mauritius isn’t short of attractions. On shore you can join a quad biking trip through the Domaine de L’Etoile, a picturesque national park where deer roam among ebony and cinnamon trees. Offshore, you can charter a catamaran, go snorkelling in the Indian Ocean and enjoy a barbecue lunch cooked up by your own chef.

Suggested Itineraries

From $14,300 pp

Russian High Arctic

Russia The Arctic

  • Sail around the Russian High Arctic in luxury with all modern comforts onboard Sea Spirit 
  • Experience a true expedition cruise to the rarely visited Franz Josef Land archipelago
  • Visit a soviet-era research facility, once a base for polar exploration
  • Look out for colonies of nesting seabirds on the rugged, steep cliffs of the islands
  • Spot polar bears, walrus and endangered bowhead whales around the archipelago

When to go:

J F M A M J J A S O N D
ideal length 13 nights

From $8,500 pp

Arctic Wildlife Safari

The Arctic

  • Search for polar bears hunting seals in the pack ice on an arctic safari
  • Explore historical sites including early whaling camps, trappers’ cabins, deserted coal mining operations, and an abandoned polar research station
  • Sea kayaking near tidewater glaciers and icebergs
  • Look out for humpback whales from the outdoor decks
  • Take advantage of the included photography program and learn alongside the onboard expert

When to go:

J F M A M J J A S O N D
ideal length 10 nights

From $7,000 pp

Mongolia’s Eagle Hunting Festival

Ulaanbaatar & Central Heartland

  • Living alongside a nomadic eagle hunting family and learning about their age-old traditions and ways of life
  • Attending the annual Ulgii Eagle Hunting Festival and getting caught up in the excitement of this event which locals spend their lives training for
  • Experiencing a less mainstream part of the country and really getting off the beaten track

When to go:

J F M A M J J A S O N D
ideal length 6 nights
Destinations Featured in the Article
hammock in turquoise water. Mauritius island

Mauritius

From pristine tropical beaches and vivid coral reef to a lush forested interior and exclusive deluxe resorts, a luxury holiday to Mauritius is pure island paradise.

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