RRG - MRU : MK 155 en Eco sur ATR 72 , back to modern life you are on the good report.
Before tackling the flight, allow me to show you what Rodrigues looks like.
This tiny piece of rock , located some 600 km off the eastern coast of mainland Mauritius is considered not only as the most beautiful island of the mascarene archipelago but also as a window on what Mauritius looked like before. Rodrigues is part of the Republic of Mauritius (although it recently gained some autonomy and is ruled by a regional assembly) and has for main ressources the fishing and tourism industries. The government is thus trying to boost the tourism industry all by preserving the natural environment but for now the main visitors to the island are from Mauritius. Inspite of the growing number of tourists from either surrounding countries like Reunion and South Africa or Europe who chose to spend some days in Rodrigues while on holiday in Mauritius, the local hotel industry is still under developed.
For this short break in Rodrigues we chose to stay at the Cotton Bay Resort and Spa, located in the north eastern part of the island at Pointe Cotton. This small 3 star hotel has 60 rooms (they just added 12 more rooms to the 48 existing) among which 2 family Vilas. The 20 years old hotel, has started to refurbish its rooms one by one and has one big advantage, a white sandy beach right in front of the settlement, not so common in Rodrigues. The hotel has good standards but the words resort and Spa is quite misleading. What they actually call spa is limited to massages (out of price by the way), a sauna and a turkish bath. They have no balneo or other activities you would expect to have in a Spa resort.
Having flown on the very first flight from Mauritius, we landed in Rodrigues quite early. We did not have to worry about the transport to get to the hotel, the latter kindly arranges free transfers for its residents. Once there, we were warmly welcome by the employees who took care of our luggages and sat us down in the lobby. They kindly offered us a popular local drink,the jus limon which is a lemon juice (made from very tasty green lemons) while checking us in.
We had a very nice surprise after check in was done, we were upgraded to a superior room, which is actually a freshly renovated room. Before discovering what the room look like, we are invited to have a complimentary breakfast, reserved for the customers arriving on the early flight. What a treat!
After having had more than one cup of tea and some very good croissants and chocolat breads, it was time for us to discover our upgraded room. Another good surprise was awaiting us as we had been allocated a ground floor room with immediate access to the beach! The overall first impression was very good. The room was way better than we would ever expect for a 3 star hotel(further knowing the standards of the hotel industry on the island) and has everything we would need. A nice smell from the flowers laid on the bed embalmed the air. We considered ourselves blessed when we got to see what the non-renovated rooms looked like - old fashioned, worn out!
Rodrigues is famous for its very well preserved lagoon and marine life (compared to Mauritius). Having a very steep relief, the roads accross the island sometimes seem to go straight into the lagoon.
On our way to the François Leguat tortoises and nature reserve, we came across this ATR 72 leaving Plaine Corail, leased from CSA to replace Air Mauritius' own ATR undergoing maintainance.
Inspite of the bath tub in the room, next to the bed, the bathroom is equiped with a shower cabin.
The François Leguat Reserve is located on the southern tip of the Island, next to the airport. Nested in rocky canyons, the reserve houses more than 1000 Aldabra giant tortoises and is renown for its spectacular caves.
Quite funny and unusual friendship scene between the bird and the reptile.
Rodrigues is very rural and offers an appreciable sight of the Mauritius of yesterday. We can find farm animals running almost free all around the island.
Those looking for some more wilderness, big spiders living in their vast webs built inbetween electrical wires along the roads, should convince you.
The very steep environment gives the opportunity to admire breathtaking views from higher grounds.
The clock seems to have stopped here, sending us 50 years back in the Mauritius of yesterday.
The stunnining view from the highest peak of the island, Mount Limon (some 300 mètres high) where we can see that developpement is very limited in Rodrigues.
Saint Gabriel's Church, the biggest of the Indian Ocean with a total capacity of 2500 people.
My favorite part of the trip, was by far the day we spent on Cocos Island. This tiny sand bank in the south of Rodrigues is only accessible after a 1 hour sail on board a local boat. The name cocos has nothing to do with potential coconut trees on the island as it might suggest. Infact, coco is the name given to bird's eggs by local sailors and since cocos island is a bird sanctuary, the perfect name was not hard to find.
There we can observe 4 species of birds. One of the 2 varieties of Nodi birds…
…and the magnificient white stern also known as the virgin's bird.
The guided tour of Cocos island was one amazing experience, there were birds everywhere. We were lucky enough to visit during the nesting period and got the chance to see lots of eggs and baby birds. One of the species of Nodi lay their eggs directly on the ground while the white stern lay its eggs on a branch. This is absolutely crazy! The stern's eggs are laid directly on the branch, without a nest in a precarious equilibrium. Once hatched, the little bird better keep strong hold of its branch or fall. The other species of Nodi lay their eggs in normal nests made from sea weeds.
Cocos island offers a glimpse of what paradise looks like with its pristine white sandy beaches. Nonetheless those with an adventurous soul better mind the inhabitants of the spot, especially during the nesting period. My poor hat still bears the testimony of an air attack from the angry birds!
The capital Port Mathurin, is as its name tells, the Port of Rodrigues. This little town is very much lively compared to the rest of the Island. Port Mathurin get even more buzzling whenever the boat from Mauritius arrives or leaves. The Mauritius Trochetia (which is actually a half cargo/half passenger ship), is a vital link between mainland Mauritius and Rodrigues. Rodrigues entirely depends on the Trochetia for basic things like gas, food, etc. On the day of our visit, the Trochetia was getting ready to tackle the 36 hours sail to Mauritius.
Our tour of the town was rapid. Port Mathurin does not have much to offer to visitors apart from the typical small island street scenes. Nonetheless, the sunday market which is the best place for shopping some local produces and the very well preserved colonial houses worth the trip there.
The town, as the rest of the island, gives a hint of what life looked like in Mauritius not so long ago, with the old shops.
Just as decades ago, goods are still transported using old carts but modernity reached there in the form of rubber tires.
Rodrigues' coastline is very diversified, it goes from sandy beaches to steep cliffs. From our hotel in Pointe Cotton, we walked along the coast discovering the numerous stunning creeks. By times we would believe we ended in Tulum, Mexico.
Let us end up this bonus on the longest beach of Rodrigues, Saint François Beach, which is doubtlessly also the most beautiful of this amazing island.
This bonus was very long, sorry for that but i really wanted to show this unknown island to you. Well lets get to the point now…
After about an hour drive on a very dark and winding road, we finally reached Plaine Corail Airport along with a bunch of other tourists from our hotel.
Inspite of its small size, the departure zone of the airport has many facilities one would expect like a small snack, an ATM along with an exchange bureau and a waiting zone with seats for those accompanying their departing loved ones.
On the upper floor, it looked like there was an observation deck but at that time it was closed.
The check-in for our flight is not yet opened, we are all invited to wait before getting all of our luggages scanned.
Once scanning cleared, we proceed into getting rid of our luggages.
Next step, passport control and security checks..
Where to go now, too many options here….but well RRG is far from being as vast as DXB.
Before going to the waiting room, lets dosome shopping at the dutyfree which is cheaper than in MRU.
Time now to settle down and enjoy a last good and refreshing jus limon - Tonight's travel documents.
The waiting area is very nice. It is spacious enough for the passengers of an ATR 72 and has a bar selling drinks and local snacks. The large armchairs gives the area a V.I.P lounge look.
The dutyfree shop opens directly on the waiting area.
I was lost in my thoughts when a rumbling noise from the tarmac caught my attention. Here we go, we will soon be fixed about our tonight's aircraft…so Air Mauritius or CSA?
The plane rapidly came to a halt at the parking and soon after disembarcation started.
Later we noticed an ambulance next to the aircraft. On our today's flight there will be a medical transfer, a young lady who most probably needs emergency care in Mauritius.
Once the patient securely settled on board, we are invited to proceed to boarding according to seat rows. Being at the front of the cabin, we will be among the very first passengers to go.
No need to say that it is the very same aircraft that brought us here some days ago.
Always joyful about flying these small toy like aircrafts.
Well seated to enjoy an amazing view of the propellers :)
Once the door closed, the two female cabin crew started the safety demonstrations.
The engines are started and the deafening sound (especially when you are seated next to the propellers) invades the cabin.
We lifted up from Rodrigues ahead of schedule in a pitch dark night.
Service started rapidly afterwards.
Here is what the very nice and smily crew you saw in the previous picture distributes to the passengers. The snack box for this evening flight is the same we got on the MRU-RRG flight and along with that, a large variety of drinks(softs drinks, juices, beer,coffee and tea, i don't know if alcohol was available though).I will stick to a cup of tea and fruit juice.
The content seems quite standard (not much change compared to the one served on our inbound flight), except for the breakfast croissant replaced by a small tasty roasted chicken sandwich.
The rest of the flight went on smoothly and i enjoyed the immense legroom to take my ease.
After a short 1 and a half hour of flight, we started our descent to Plaisance and landed smoothly. This landing was very special to me as we came to land directly from the west while usually inbound flight land from the east.
We stopped at the parking we left a couple of days ago.
We were among the last passengers to leave the plane along with the patient. At the rear right, you can see the accompanying nurse of that poor lady.I was quite surprised to see how the seat backs of three rows had been lowered to fixe the stretcher. I did not dare taking a picture in such a delicate situation.
We were transfered to the terminal using a bus even if the distance between the plane and the terminal is very limited and feasable on foot. I will feel devastated (i am kind of a drama queen ^^) not to be able to take pictures of the Emirates A380 passing just a couple of metres away from our bus. Once in the terminal, we have to go through border control…
before collecting our luggages in a completely deserted airport which is about to close.
Carousel 6 ladies and gentlmen …
Welcome back home! After such and amazing break in Rodrigues, i would definitely recommend to those who have the opportunity to visit not to hesitate.
Thanks for reading me ;)
Port Mathurin - RRG
Port Louis - MRU
I had an overall good experience with Air Mauritius who is the only airline on this route. This has long been a problem since they sometimes set very high ticket prices, way unaffordable for Rodrigues residents who end up travelling by boat to Mauritius. On the otherhand, to boost the tourism industry, Air Mauritius has tickets from Rs 5000 (approximately 130 euros)reserved for Mauritian nationals and residents who must spend at least 3 days there. The inflight service was not bad but sad to notice that it has been reduced. Before, a full service, with a complete tray was proposed on these flights. Air Mauritius ATRs are starting to get really old, and the cabin worn out. Nonetheless, the crews we had were really professional, the lady on the return flight was really amazing.
Cabin comfort : I enjoy flying the ATRs but i must admit that it is far from being a silent plane, further the cabin was quite old but for such short flights, it is way enough, i put 8.
Crew : The crew in charge of our part of the cabin was so nice and professional that she deserves a full 10.
Meal and Catering : As i said before, the service has nothing to do with what was previously offered but still for such a short flight, the size of the aircraft and compared to the international standards, the service was very good and deserves 10
Entertainment : As on the flight to Rodrigues, newspapers were available upon request and the inflight magazine help kill time. Nonetheless ceilling screens displaying the airshow would be a plus for avgeeks like me-8
On-time Perfomance: Perfectly on time on both flights - 10.
Sir Gaetan Duval Airport - Plaine Corail RRG : A small airport with all the facilities, perfect for what it is used for and in respect to the simplicity of Rodrigues culture.
Sir Seewoosagur International Airport - Plaisance MRU: A brand new, long awaited airport which is a drastic change compared to the ancient terminal. Nothing to say apart that this airport is very well designed.
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