Thursday, 21 October 2021 08:48 AM
Red, brown, violet, green, blue, purple and yellow. No, we’re not singing a rainbow, we’re talking about the Seven Coloured Earths of Chamarel, one of Mauritius’ most popular natural wonders.
Chamarel’s Seven Coloured Earth Geopark in Chamarel is a showcase for this rare geological phenomenon. Nature has deposited undulating strips of multicoloured sand in the middle of a lush green forest.
These psychedelic dunes were formed by volcanic activity which brought a number of different elements together, each with its own distinct hue. Basalt gullies decomposed into clay in the island’s hot and humid climate.
The chemicals in this clay were then broken down by water and rainfall, washing away soluble elements and leaving behind a ferralitic soil of hydrated oxides of iron and aluminium. Red and anthracite-coloured iron sesquioxides, and blue or purplish coloured aluminium sesquioxides result in the multicoloured bands you see in Chamarel. A further wonder is that the different colours of sand particles seem to spontaneously settle together, maintaining the patches of red iron and blue aluminium.
The dunes also don’t seem to erode, despite Mauritius’ rainfall and are one of the most photographed and visited sights on the island, so stay behind the fence for your colourful Instagram captures so that they stay in picture-perfect condition. Try and get there early if you can, and remember that the colours will look most vibrant at sunrise or on a cloudless, sunny day.
The Geopark also houses an endemic plant garden highlighting the natural heritage of Mauritius, and a vast amphitheatre of verdant ravines with a glimpse of the picturesque Chamarel Waterfall in the distance. The second-largest species of tortoise in the world, the Aldabra, munches away in the Tortoise Park, with souvenir and coffee shops nearby. The Geopark is open all year round, from 8.30 am to 5.30 pm in summer and closing at 5 pm during winter.