It will play an even more important role in the town of Beau-Bassin, with the destruction of the Roland Armand Promenade… Indeed, the Balfour Garden has been extended from 5am to 8pm by the Beau-Bassin-Rose-Hill Town Hall. Past and present blend together to bring you the best of both worlds. Simplicity reigns high, let us take you to its alleys, its comrades and its fountain… An opportunity to take a little stroll.
There is a street in Beau-Bassin named Balfour, probably in honour of Dr Andrew Balfour. Dr. Balfour had written a report on the sanitary conditions on the island and carried out a residential project for the workers when Sir Hesketh Bell was Governor of Mauritius from 1916 to 1924. Of course, the Balfour Garden is to be found here, but also another emblematic place of the city, the Thabor. A white building belonging to the diocese of Port-Louis. From the high cliffs where the Balfour garden is perched, the view of the Grande-Rivière-Nord-Ouest which flows below is unobstructed, while a stream flows into the void. This is the Balfour Waterfall, a natural sight that many come to see as Ebony and its buildings dominate the cliff tops.
The Balfour Garden is above all several acres of green space where young and old alike can find their happiness. The gravel paths, which are scattered throughout this garden, coloured by flower beds and children's games, are an invitation to let your senses take over… Stretching out on the lawn under the tall palm trees, following the fragrant pine paths, listening to the birdsong and the flow of the canals that cross the garden, or reading your newspaper on the bench surrounded by trees, or exercising in the open gym. All these things can be done in this quiet atmosphere, which is very popular with all generations.
To the sound of birdsong we arrived at the entrance to Balfour Garden. The gate itself is a masterpiece of solid wood, very well maintained despite its age. In front of this earthly paradise, no one will remember that the super busy town of Rose Hill is only a few short miles away. Despite the recent redevelopment of the site, the Balfour Garden has retained its former appearance. As we enter the garden we are greeted by a refreshing air and the sound of the flowing waterfall can be heard in the distance.
Balfour Garden, as mentioned above, is also famous for its turtle park. Indeed, no less than 7 hundred year old turtles find refuge in a secure park inside this beautiful garden for the delight of the little ones. The fish pond has been replaced by a magnificent freshwater fountain, and streams flow everywhere. The large trees under which concrete structures are built allow visitors to sit and contemplate the majestic beauty of the garden. In the distance, children play happily on the playgrounds with slides and swings, while adults enjoy a cup of tea on a tablecloth in the shade of a hundred-year-old tree.
For many residents of Rose-Hill and Beau-Bassin, the Balfour Garden is a haven of peace and a place to recharge after a week of hard work. The wildlife at Balfour is just as good as the flora. In addition to the turtles, visitors can watch the coming and going of birds of all sizes and colours. It goes without saying that in the beautiful valley before them, they can admire the magnificent Paille-en-queue, the national bird of Mauritius. As its name suggests, this bird has a long white tail that drags during its flight. The Mauritian legend which reads: "Paille-en-queue, Paille-en-queue, donn moi enn ti poisson Paille-en-queue" means that the bird is an omnivore and loves fruit but is also a very good fisherman. Legend has it that if you see the bird, just rub your fingernails together and a white fish-shaped spot will appear on your fingers!
Besides the national bird of Mauritius, you can also see the endemic and protected Parakeet. Named Cateau Vert, these birds fly freely and are recognisable by their high-pitched 'croa' calls. No more flying animals and turtles, the garden is also a sanctuary for monkeys! The macaques live in the cliff forests overlooking the Balfour Garden. However, they feed in the garden's rubbish bins and fruit trees. They come in numbers of 10 or 12, a complete family. If you are careful not to be attacked, you will certainly see the mother with her young. But beware, the big bad dominant is never too far away! They are however protected and almost never attack humans. In the last 10 years there has never been an attack on humans, which suggests that these monkeys are friends to humans. Moreover, the presence of the monkeys is synonymous with one thing, the nature of this green place.
Even if the garden is not huge, a visit to Balfour will certainly cost you a day as the place is so charming. Remember to bring food, mosquito repellent and your camera to capture the time you're likely to spend at Balfour.