A Grand Reunion: Volcanoes and Beaches in an Indian Ocean Paradise
For most people, a mention of the Indian Ocean automatically conjures up images of its most popular islands, which are Seychelles, Mauritius, and the Maldives. One island that most people are however quick to forget is the small island of Reunion. This little reminder of France sits between her better-known neighbour Mauritius and the shores of wild Africa. The volcanic island is a paradise for the water lover with an outstanding range of activities available.
Snow sometimes dusts the cap of Piton de Neige, Réunion’s highest point at 10,066ft. This sits at the heart of three massive, steep-walled craters known as cirques. Many visitors come purely to trek up and around these on well-marked paths, and the island has a reputation as a venue for adventurous sports such as canyoning, hang-gliding, mountain biking and microlight flights.
A sure way to appreciate this scenic magnificence is on a helicopter flight, which is worth it despite the extortionate price and the early start needed to beat the clouds that gather above the island as the morning progresses. After fluttering over fields of sugar cane and geranium farms (grown for perfume), the earth suddenly drops away to massed screams as you cross over the sheer rim of the Cirque de Matafe. As an added bonus, Réunion also has an active volcano, Piton de la Fournaise, which can be admired from several viewpoints along a Route de Volcan or climbed by the intrepid.
Creole food, spiced with ginger, coconut and vanilla, can be delicious, but the gastronomic stars go to the quayside restaurants devoted to Indian Ocean fish and seafood. Lobster, crayfish, tuna, swordfish – the menus are inevitably backed by an excellent selection of French white wines. The food is just one way in which you can see the huge variety of influences on the island, stemming from its location on what were popular trade routes before the opening of the Suez Canal.
In fact, La Reunion (which translates as ‘meeting’) feels like an apt name for a place that reflects the coming together of so many different cultures — Creole, African, Malagasy, Indian, Chinese and European.
After several days of such fun and exploration, the smart thing to do is crash out on the nearby island of Mauritius, With only a 30 minute flight to the east, you will find palm-fringed beaches, white sands and blue waters – the Indian Ocean islands truly do have it all.
Sourced and edited from: web1.travelintelligence.co; www.triporiginator.com; www.worldwide.co.za; www.dailymail.co.uk