PIETER BOTH MOUNTAIN IN MAURITIUS

Discover the iconic mountain of Pieter Both in Mauritius Island, including its history, legends, amazing facts, climbing difficulties, and much more.

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Pieter Both mountain in Mauritius featured image

There is always something that will capture your attention while driving on the motorway of Verdun-Ripailles. There are gorgeous greenish landscapes but most probably, your eyes will never miss something. It is Pieter Both! Pieter Both is a mountain located in the beautiful village of La Laura and Malenga. These two villages are famous for their peaceful atmosphere, surrounded by flowers, vegetables, and mountains.

At the beginning of the 1850s, a sugar mill was established in La Laura. It was known as Pieter Both or Chateau Tremblant. The name changed to La Laura in 1859, and the sugar mill was active until 1920. Today, only a few ruins remain. On the other hand, Malenga is famous for its fantastic sightseeing, which offers a view of the Pieter Both's front facet and the North. It has a kiosk and connects to the village of Crève-Coeur via a long concrete stair with more than 375 steps.

The mountain forms part of the Moka range that erupted from volcanic activities approximately 8 million years ago. The Moka mountain range includes other peaks like Ory, Berthelot/Junction, Le Pouce, and two lesser-known peaks next to Pieter Both, which are Grand Peak and Grand Glacis. Moreover, Pieter Both's height is 820m, which classifies it as the second-highest mountain in Mauritius, just behind Piton de la Petite Rivière Noire.

A Dutch Admiral

Admiral Pieter Both portrait image
Admiral Pieter Both portrait.

Even though the mountain is famous in Mauritius, many people do not know how it got its name. The name came from a Dutch Governor, Pieter Both, who was born in 1568. Pieter Both was the governor of the East Indies from 1610 to 1614. He governed a few nations, such as Timor, Jakarta (Batavia), and others.

After his governorship, it was General Gerard Reynst, who took his position to rule. Pieter Both decided to visit Mauritius with four ships but the crew faced rough weather on the West coasts. Some of the ships drowned, and the one for Pieter Both was among them. In February 1615, he died in the sea of Flic-en-Flac in a terrific storm. For years, a misconception says his ship failed at Tombeau Bay. But this was disproved in the 1970s when a group of divers discovered the shipwreck in the sea of Médine. They also found objects that few are now in the National Museum at Mahebourg.

Climbing Pieter Both

There is only one track to ascend the mountain. It starts in La Laura, near a football playground. The track is rocky and gradually steep, most of the time covered, thus, protecting you from the scorching sun.

On the way to the top, there is a first boulder, easy to climb, and another technical boulder, extremely slippery during rainy weather, vertical, and manageably climbable on the left side. A rope will help a lot at this part, but not necessary if you are getting support from someone to climb. After that, the path becomes steep and quite technical until you reach a spot called the "shoulder" by local hikers and trekkers. This spot offers breathtaking views and is sometimes windy. It is where most active hikers stop their adventure on ascending the Pieter Both. Some persons continue further and halt on the site to climb to the peak.

Regarding the peak, it is necessary to wear proper safety equipment such as a harness, helmets, and ropes that meet the essential requirements of mountaineering certifications and standards. Rock climbing skills will help tremendously to reach the top but are not the main requirement if you are with a group of accredited mountaineering guides, as they will surely help and support you. A usual hike until the shoulder can take up to two hours one way. It varies if you will climb to the top. Pieter Both is rated among the most technical mountains in Mauritius. Do bring a sufficient amount of water and energetic foods.

Below are a few testimonials from hikers and trekkers who ascended to the top:

"Having climbed Pieter Both more than 30 times, I've experienced a drastic degradation on the mountain landscape. To appreciate its iconic view, one has to go through technical progressive climbing experience, which I've seen many tried to do without proper hiking gears, knowledge and assistance which lead to few injuries and lost. I would just recommend all beginner nature lovers, those willing to climb Pieter Both, to get some advices first and always be well-equipped and accompanied by someone for their own safety and others." - Taws.
"Pieter both has always been my dream mountain. The hardest and most iconic mountain in Mauritius. I've climbed it 24 times without any equipment even it's not advisable. You'll go through 2 gullies where easy climbing moves are required. Real difficulties start as from the shoulder and you need climbing gear alongside a qualify guide to reach the summit! Do not attempt if you have a fear of height or when there's rainfall as the rocks are very slippery." - Kaushal Sooklall.
"Definitely I recommend it at least once in a life time, with a well-equipped group and on a good weather condition. Thrilling and well-deserved adrenaline experience mainly near the summit. Be very cautious, heavy rocks falling from the cliffs near the shoulder parts due to weathering. I had experienced a huge rock falling which could lead to death in my last hike." - Shenaz Napaul.

From the testimonials by experienced trekkers, it is crystal clear the mountain is facing severe degradation due to erosion, just like many mountains in Mauritius. Hence, day by day, the track to ascend to the peak is changing to a more complicated achievement, in fact dangerous, which can lead to injuries and death. That is why it is better to be accompanied by fully accredited guides who are specialists in mountaineering events.

Climbing to the peak of Pieter Both is becoming more challenging, but what about the first person who has ever done it? Claude Peuthé achieved the first climb to the summit on September 8, 1790. A slave who acted as a porter accompanied him. They carried different rope sizes, arrows with sharp accessories, and other equipment. They managed to reach the top. Claude Peuthé used metallic darts at many attempts before finding a way to climb the summit. He described the shoulder as enriched with endemic plants at that time, and some were on the peak. He put a French flag on the top.

Furthermore, a belief that Captain Lloyd and his officers, among Henry Keppel, were the first climbers of Pieter Both. However, they knew they were wrong later. They placed a British flag on the summit.

In 1885, a group of mountain climbers installed clamps to ascend to the peak. Those clamps were renewed in the 1970s by the Special Mobile Force. Some are still on the rock but have been badly rusted and are not appropriate to count on.

A short video on the top of Pieter Both is as follows:

The Deadly Lightning Tragedy

On January 1, 1971, a group of nature enthusiasts decided to spend the new year on Pieter Both. They started on the same track, and while reaching the summit, they encountered heavy rainfall. A few of them found refuge in a small cave in the rocks, and suddenly, a clap of thunder with a flash of bright lightning occurred. It happened so fast, and unfortunately, one of the members, Cadress C., fell from the top to the nearby ravine. As the weather was extremely rough and they were tired, shocked, and desperate, they spent the entire night on the mountain. The next day, they came down, and the Special Mobile Force started the search for their friend.

A Popular Legend

Folklore and legend are associated with various places in Mauritius. Certain mountains have even been named based on their physical structure. For example, Le Pouce's peak resembles a "thumb", the Lion mountain looks like a lion is lying down, and Pieter Both is no exception in this aspect.

A legend from the end of the 19th century is famous. It is about a guy, Santaka, who was going to his village, La Laura, decided to rest near a tree next to a giant rock. To his utter amazement, he heard some laughing sounds close to him, and when he opened his eyes, he saw gorgeous fairies. The fairies came and told him he was special to possess such a unique superpower that is seeing the unseen. They warned him if he ever revealed what he saw, they would turn him into a big rock on the mountain. Santaka did not keep his secret from the villagers. Finally, he turned into a gigantic rock on the very top of the peak.

Of course, this is just a legend.

Hike & Climb On Pieter Both With Jah

Hike With Jah portrait image
Jah, the guide on left.

This guy is amazing! He is very popular on social media for his fantastic content on the mountains, and he is known as the "son" of Pieter Both. His name is Jayesh, commonly known as Jah. Born in Crève-Coeur, Jah has been fascinated by Pieter Both since childhood. He discovered hiking and mountain climbing as a passion during his teenage years.

Jah was interested in hiking for the first time when he wandered into the neighborhood. A peaceful atmosphere, surrounded by nature and mountains, makes Crève-Coeur one of the most popular resorts in the area. Jah fell in love with the natural beauty around him. He has climbed Pieter Both countless times, and shared his passion with others. Pieter Both's exploration is in his blood, and he proposes trekking and climbing to Pieter Both on affordable fees. Equipped with harnesses, ropes, first aid kits and other professional stuff, Jah is ready to make you discover the wonderful Pieter Both peak for real. He also forms part of a professional mountain climbing team, Alpinerz Mauritius, where they cooperate to bring hikers and enthusiasts to Pieter Both's head.

If you want to hike up to the mountain shoulder, he can satisfy your dream easily. Further, he offers additional hiking plans that are easier than Pieter Both's. You want to hike with a professional guide? Hike with Jah now! Book him and below are his contact details:


A Mountain To Consider

If you are physically fit, not afraid of heights, and active in hiking, add Pieter Both to your list to climb. If it is your first time, consider a qualified guide like Jah for the event. To conclude, there was a debate about whether Pieter Both was wrongly named. As mentioned above, Governor Pieter Both did not die at Tombeau Bay but near Flic-en-Flac, so there was speculation that he did not see the actual Pieter Both mountain first, based on the distance and location. Certain scholars think he saw Rempart mountain because that is the only peak he could see from Flic-en-Flac, which also has a steep summit. Well, the mystery continues.


Ali J (Author)

Author: Ali J | Date Published: April 10, 2021 | Last Updated: June 23, 2023

References: Allister MacMillan (MAURITIUS: Illustrated - Historical and descriptive commercial and industrial facts, figures and resources), Guy Rouillard (Histoire des domaines Sucriers de l'Ile Maurice), L'Express.mu, Britannica Encyclopedia.