The name suggests it perfectly; Casela World of Adventures certainly is a world apart from the tranquility and, dare I say it, repetitiveness of the resorts found on the coast of Mauritius. It takes less than an hour to drive to the park from most points on the island, and is well worth a visit if you have a spare few hours and want to do something a little different. Sprawled over more than 250 hectares of prime wild real estate, Casela is one of the main attractions on the island, and it was actually surprising to see the number of Mauritians who were in the park as visitors. Always a good sign for a local attraction.
On our trip, we had two main events on the itinerary. First up, a walk with some lions. Now, I’d usually say that this would be well-established on my bucket list, but I didn’t actually know you could walk with lions until I visited Mauritius. Having seen what they could do to an unsuspecting warthog in South Africa, I wouldn’t normally fancy my chances on a gentle stroll with the king of the jungle. However, the lion handler did explain that all of the cats had been raised around humans and so were unfazed by anything on two legs. There were, of course, some ground rules thrown in amongst the joking and laughing, but these mainly centred on respecting the lions and not being too shy or nervous around them.
The walk itself lasted the good part of an hour. After the initial reaction of two fairly large cats walking past us, the whole experience was fairly tranquil. Both cats looked to be in excellent health and were playful with the handlers. The occasional chunk of meat was enough of a distraction to keep things moving along and, despite the impressive display of both jaws and claws, it felt like an entirely safe experience. I even had the opportunity to walk alongside the lion and give it a solid pat on the back. No messing around here; you wouldn’t want a half-arsed stroke of the fur to be mistaken for annoying fly.
After viewing other cats in the area and the most ridiculously cute lion cubs, it was time for lunch. On the way, we took a trip through a very colourful and noisy aviary, and had the chance to get up close and personal with some very large (and very old) tortoises. Apart from being unbelievably placid, there was something very prehistoric about these beasts. It was fascinating to watch them lazily feast on a huge pile of leaves and carrots they were pretty much sitting on. For us, lunch was a little more exciting and civilised; local cuisine served in the on-site restaurant that looked out over the north coast. It was an excellent meal and probably the most authentic we had on the island. Worth the trip alone.
Our afternoon itinerary did involve an activity that was definitely on my bucket list and was perhaps a little more “normal”. Having never ridden a horse before, a horse ride safari sounded like an amazing opportunity to see the local wildlife in a completely unique way. My ex-racing horse, aptly named, Gold, may not have been as fast on his feet as race day, but he was the perfect companion for the duration of the ride. Even though I’m six feet tall, I couldn’t help but feel tiny on a horse that size and, while he did prefer chowing down on grass to walking at times, he was the perfect introductory ride. On the way, ostrich, zebra and deer gave us something to look at and it was a peaceful way to explore the area.
Before we knew it, it was time to leave the park and jump in the taxi to make our way back to the Shandrani Resort. It was a fantastic few hours and certainly an experience I will never forget; walking with lions is probably something I will never get to do again. Our guide for the day, Kenny, deserves a special mention as his knowledge of the park made navigating that much easier. That being said, all of the staff were passionate about wildlife and it felt unlike any zoo or animal attraction I have ever visited before. Casela is indeed a world of adventures, and full deserves some of your time should you ever visit Mauritius.