I spent the last 5 years traveling nonstop overland to all 54 African countries.
My wife, who is from Cameroon, joined me on 31 of them.
Perhaps the most common question we get is, “Which is your favorite African country?”
We answer, “On the African mainland, it’s Namibia. On the entire continent, it’s Mauritius.”
Francis and Rejoice Tapon in Mauritius
Why Mauritius the best African country
It’s a cliché, but Mauritius is a tropical island paradise.
- The weather is pleasant throughout the year.
- The country is small enough (nearly 11 times the size of Washington DC) that you’re guaranteed a warm ocean breeze.
- It’s one of the few places in Africa where you can avoid bone-crushing heat (and not freeze your ass off like during Lesotho’s winters).
It’s not just the weather that is consistently pleasant. The society and infrastructure are too.
Most people will fly into the capital, Port Louis. From there, you have a few options:
- Take a bus or taxi
- Fly to somewhere else in Mauritius
- Rent a car in Mauritius
Although we considered renting a car in Mauritius, we ended up taking the bus.
Rejoice Tapon on a bus on Mauritius.
What’s remarkable about Mauritius’s bus system is that it’s not like typical African buses.
Throughout most of Africa, buses don’t run on a schedule.
They wait until they fill up.
That might take 5 minutes or 5 hours.
Once all the seats are sold out, then the bus gets going on its route.
In Mauritius, time matters.
Therefore, buses leave according to a schedule.
They leave whether they’re full or empty.
As you see from the photo with Rejoice, the bus is nearly empty when we left the station.
Mauritius isn’t just about the weather
Lots of African countries have pleasant weather.
And yes, Mauritians are friendly.
Most African nations have pleasant people and are filled with pleasant moments.
However, in most of Africa, there’s also chaos, tension, frustration, bureaucracy, and bullshit that interrupts those pleasant moments.
In Africa, just when you begin to relax, you hit a pothole, or a policeman asks for a bribe, or the water cuts just after you’ve covered yourself with soap and shampoo in the shower.
Mauritius isn’t perfect, but it largely avoids such daily challenges. It has the lowest HDI rate in Africa (72). It also has the lowest fertility rate: 1.67.
According to Africa Wealth Report, on a wealth per capita basis, Mauritius is the richest in Africa: $25,700. South Africa is half that and is number two.
In addition to the great weather, superb infrastructure, and friendly people, Mauritius also offers a:
- Vibrant, open economy
- Well-run government
- Succulent cuisine that is heavily influenced by India
Mauritius didn’t become a paradise because it was never colonized. On the contrary, before its independence in 1968, everybody and their mother ruled Mauritius.
- Arabs knew of the island in the 10th century.
- The Portuguese checked it out in the 1500s.
- In the 1600s, the Dutch named it after Prince Maurits van Nassau.
- In 1810, the Brits snapped up Mauritius.
Mauritius was the only African country that I traveled consistently in a group. Throughout the island, Rejoice and I traveled with Sym Blanchard and Scott Williams. The four of us shared family-sized rooms or Airbnb apartments during our one-week vacation. We took buses together, ate Indian cuisine together, and hiked up Mauritius’s tallest peak together.
Mont Piton de la Petite Rivière Noire Piton is 810 meters high.
The trails were muddy, but we were thrilled because we didn’t have the face the standard shenanigans that we face on most of Africa’s high points.
Nobody asked to wait for hours to buy a permit.
Nobody forced us to get a guide.
Nobody cared that we were there.
Group travel has its benefits.
Chief among them is the economic benefits. You can share taxis and lodging.
Cooking in your Airbnb makes more economic sense when you’re in a group versus when you’re alone.
Groups deter assaults.
Unfortunately, groups usually create a travel bubble.
Traveling as a couple does this too, but group travel exacerbates this problem.
You’re less likely to interact with locals when your buddies surround you.
As a result, you’ll often miss out on one of the most fulfilling and insightful parts of travel: hanging out with the locals.
Lastly, if you fall in love with Mauritius, it’s somewhat easy to get permanent residency.
All you have to do is buy a property that is worth at least $500,000.
Yes, that’s no bargain, unless you’re like me and from San Francisco, where you can’t buy a closet for that price.
- Francis Tapon
- : Francis Tapon has hiked across America four times, walked across Spain twice, and Madagascar once. He has traveled to 120 counties. He has written two books, Hike Your Own Hike and The Hidden Europe. He is creating a documentary and a book called The Unseen Africa, which is based on his five-year nonstop overland journey across all 54 African countries. He is a 3-time TEDx speaker. He has a Religion BA from Amherst College and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
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- : Learn about Africa and Eastern Europe. Listen to the WanderLearn podcast, which encourages slow, immersive, and deep travel. Download free chapters from one of my travel books.
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- : Thishttps://francistapon.com/Travels/Africa/Why-Mauritius-Is-My-Favorite-African-Country is the first time this story has been published.