The Le Morne Cultural Landscape has been hailed as a monument of Nature.
Monolithic in appearance and surrounded by awe–inspiring cliffs, the detached mountain "…rises in solitary grandeur from this little peninsula on which it stands, a spur from it forming the isthmus which unites it to the mainland." Jutting out into the Indian Ocean, the peninsula is surrounded by placid emerald lagoons lined with coral reefs with the deep blue sea in the background. A showpiece of how Nature's violent volcanic history shaped the island, some 8 to 10 million years ago. At the top of the cliffs and unseen from the bottom, the fertile plateau on top contributes to lush vegetation.
Geologically, the mountain forms part of a terminal Ankara mite olivine basalt of the oldest series, dating from eight to ten million years ago, i.e. in the Late Miocene. There are surface rocks round the edge and in some places on the plateau; there is fairly good soil layer rich in humus in some regions. There are numerous rock shelters, some of which were inhabited as illustrated by the archaeological evidence found on the mountain. No permanent watercourses or springs are found on the top of Le Morne Mountain although according to historical records and maps, one existed at the time when maroons roamed the area. However, it is to be noted that the west side of Mauritius has become drier over the last century.
Topography of the Mountain
The mountain easily gives the impression of a fortress. The steep slopes are intersected by ravines and valleys while the cliffs are marked by countless fissures and cracks, some of them almost as tall as the mountain itself to meet the plateau. The area at the top is well protected by steep rock cliffs that will, even today, deter any potential intruders from reaching the summit.
It is, however, not only the plateau at the top of the mountain that provided shelter for runaway slaves; the mountain in its totality is a fortress: '…a mother who protects and nourishes…' The bottom of the cliffs and lower ledges are carved by numerous cracks and crevices masked by thick vegetation. Terraces obscured by the lower cliffs can only be reached by climbing up the steep lower rock faces using lianas. All these features provide plenty of hiding places. In addition, at certain places, creeks flow and hold water for at least part of the year. In December 2006, investigators found three percolating trails of water on the south side of the mountain at the tail end of the dry season. Undoubtedly, the mountain's complex topography offered adequate protection and means of survival to maroons.
A masterpiece of Nature not only for its grand appearance, Le Morne also has valuable biological attributes. It is home to a large number of endemic plant species that include some of the rarest in the world. It is also the only habitat where the national flower of Mauritius, the Trochetia boutoniana is found. Therefore, like many other unique sites in Africa such as the Kayas in Kenya, or Ambohimanga Royal City in Madagascar, it is important also from a biodiversity point of view, in addition to its core attributes of historical significance and cultural value.