Charles Darwin in Mauritius
Charles Darwin was in Mauritius from 29th of April 1836 and departed on the 9th of May of the same year. He was one of the first British naturalists to visit this tropical island paradise, whilst on his famous Voyage of the Beagle, travelling from Australia.
Extract from his diary: April 29th.-In the morning we passed round the northern end of Mauritius, or the Isle of France. From this point of view the aspect of the island equalled the expectations raised by the many well-known descriptions of its beautiful scenery. The sloping plain of the Pamplemousses, interspersed with houses, and coloured by the large fields of sugar cane of a bright green, composed the foreground. The brilliancy of the green was the more remarkable because it is a colour which generally is conspicuous only from a very short distance. Towards the centre of the island groups of wooded mountains rose out of this highly cultivated plain; their summits, as so commonly happens with ancient volcanic rocks, being jagged into the sharpest points. Masses of white clouds were collected around these pinnacles, as if for the sake of pleasing the stranger’s eye. The whole island, with its sloping border and central mountains, was adorned with an air of perfect elegance: the scenery, if I may use such an expression, appeared to the sight harmonious.
He was clearly taken in by the beauty of Mauritius, and also the diversity of the people and how French it all was. Darwin arrived in Mauritius after the Dodo became extinct, so didn’t see one. He did however see the giant tortoise, Gekos,milipedes and birds, particularly parrots. He was able to draw accurate illustrations of the new animals and birds he encountered whilst in Mauritius.