When I took my travel companions to Albion on the west coast of Mauritius a couple of weeks ago, the plan was to explore a specific abandoned building. The ruins of the Bergeraz hotel built in 1975. According to an article in the Mauritian newspapers L'express the former hotel belongs on a list of haunted houses on the island. We didn't see these ruins, because they no longer exists. Instead we got to see what is left of the lighthouse keeper's home. We chose to make our first stop at the Albion Lighthouse, because the ruins of the hotel was supposed to be located at the same place as the lighthouse – on top of the Pointe-aux- Caves Cliff. The lighthouse is still standing on the edge of the cliff guiding the ships safely on the way to the harbour in Port Louis. It's still operational, but automated, so the lighthouse keeper has left his home long time ago.
When we arrived at the gate, it was closed and no one was here. We took a walk out onto the cliff to look at the rugged coast and the lighthouse from here. The coast here is quite rough. If you go down to the sea, you will find caves in the mountainside and small, natural pools. Many locals find their way down here. When we returned to our car, a man had a arrived. He told us that the lighthouse is closed right noe. We should have been part of an organized tour group, with an authorization to be allowed into the lighthouse. But he was kind enough to allow us inside to take pictures of the lighthouse and the house that used to belong to the lighthouse keeper.
He told us that the building of the lighthouse startet in 1909 and was operational in 1910. The house of the lighthousekeeper was also built by the British around the same time (Mauritius became independent in 1968). About the lighthouse he told us that it was originally run on oil, but in 1973 it was connected to the electricity. The 30 m. high structure is also intact. Inside the tower, most of the interior is still the original from 1909. Last time I was here (might have been 2011) we could walk the stairs to the top and onto the balcony. From here you get a panoramic view of the coast, making it worth to walk 98 steps.
The man left us to ourselves to take photos and look around. He got visitors, so I didn't get a chance to ask for more information about the house. It does look as if it has been completely forgotten and left to nature to take over. If the lighthouse was automated in 1973, I quess the home was left around the same time. The house is such a contrast to the well maintained lighthouse which is open to visitors (tourists),
Because the doors were open I went inside. There are still 2 beds here. Rysty, but they are probably the original ones. Because the house is built in stone, it is solid. The doors and window frames are made in wood, so the haven't been able to keep up with time.
The house has a covered porch and has probably been a stately building long time ago. The porch on the southern side is overlooking the coast. In a window stands a pair of shoes. At least they do not look like they are as old as the house! Trees and plants almost cover the building. In a way it's hiding. I think that's why I haven't noticed the house before. The side facing the lighthouse is almost covered with shrubs and trees. Usually I feel that abandoned houses like this one, can be creepy, but I didn't get that feeling here at all.
As far as I know there is no longer any other operational lighthouses on the island. But during the 18th century, when Mauritius was colonized, the island attracted many European countries because of it's strategic location. Because of increased trading and ships as the only source of transportation, lighthouses were built. The ships needed the lighthouses to guide and help them navigate. I have seen other lighthouses in the southern part of Mauritus, but have no idea for how long they were operational, or if some of them still are. The port in Port Louis, the capital, is still a busy port that sees a large amount of container ships.
In a way its a peacefull place, yet that coast does look fierce. Especially when it's windy and the wawes are splashing against the rocks. But on a calm day it's a popular and photogenic spot at sunset.
I have managed to find out that it's the Mauritius Ports Authority who is in charge of maintenance of the lighthouse. If you want to visit, you have to obtain permission from them. Then you are allowed to enter the lighthouse and walk up to the top.
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[//]:# (!pinmapple -20.207567 lat 57.408488 long Mauritius - The home of the lighthouse keeper at Albion Lighthouse d3scr)
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