An Island formed around a dormant volcano, the fertile land gives way to a myriad of natural wonders such as lava cliffs, mystical lagoons, grassy highlands, canyons, and mountainous landscapes. It is perhaps lesser know than its neighbouring Oceanic Island Madagascar at around 800 kilometres east and although appears as a dot on the map, it is an incredible location.
An overseas French department, Reunion shares little with its Matriarch and this multicultural haven is a mecca for its peaceful co-existence initiatives and mosaic mix of French, Asian and African influences.
Piton des Neiges
The protagonist of the Reunion Islands, the Island would not be around if it weren’t for the birth of this volcano, over three million years ago. The name which translates to Snow Python is an oxymoron as the Volcano sees no snow and snowfall has been practically non-existent as history retells. Research reveals it has been dormant for 20,000 years and is primarily eroded making it more accessible than ever to discover it. It currently stands 3071 meters above the Indian Ocean.
Highlands; Mafate, Cilaos and Salazie
The Three cirques include Mafate, Cilaos and Salazie; three mesmerising mars-like routes mapping out a discovery of Reunion Island. Visitors can also experience the closest thing to the milky-way here and life-changing sunrises.
The Cirque of Mafate is the collapsed centre of the volcano encompassing beautiful landscapes and freedom tales of runaway slaves. Although there are no roads, at every turn, there is a wonderful experience awaiting such as eco-solar system electricity, suspended bridges and the clearest starry night skies.
The Cirque of Salazie is a tapestry of tropical nature with colourful Creole villages and sparkling waterfalls. It is inaccessible by roads rendering it an ideal choice for hikers wanting to enjoy total solitude.
The Cirque of Cilaos is a route that boasts surprising sights such as healing hot springs, climbing and canyoning experiences and rich soil that grows grapes for wine and earthy lentils.
Terrasses du Niagara
The Reunion Island possesses its own Niagara Waterfall that drops a misty 55 metres tall.
This humid jungle will encircle you into a complete natural dream with highland tamarinds and tree ferns. Follow the trail for a new world hike, with countless exotic plants and smells to entice you that will lead you to the Trou de Fer (The Iron Hole). This canyon is a wondrous sight from above with over 6 prominent waterfalls trickling downwards.
Takamaka Valley basin
Formed as an extension of the Piton des Neiges and linked to the river of Marsouins, the Takamakr Waterfall is a difficult hike that totals 7 hours of walking, 27 ladders and steep drops. If you want to avoid this challenging endeavour, helicopters can be booked for a luxurious vantage ride.
Piton de la Fournaise
This volcano is one of the world’s most active volcanoes and last erupted from December 22, 2021 to January 17, 2022. Despite it’s activity, it is still visitable and is very closely monitored. You can access it via the Volcano forest road from the village of Bourg-Murat. A unique experience to add to the bucket list can be to explore the lava tubes in the piton de la Fournaise and enjoy impromptu music shows.
Towns in the Reunion Islands
St. Denis is the capital and largest town, surrounded by sugarcane fields, small settlements and a mix of local businesses and international big names. Visit the Petit Marché displays fresh vegetable, fruit and spice stalls, and Le Grand Marché, sells local handicrafts and souvenirs.
The next largest towns are Saint-Paul and Saint-Pierre both on the West Coast, which are internally recognised as the best locations for scuba-diving, deep-sea fishing and whale watching. These streets boast art and colour at every turn with opportunities to buy souvenirs at the craft markets. Stroll across the promenades of Saint Paul and appreciate how the islands indigenous status is put in focus alongside French colonial remnants.
Saint Gilles is also known for its inclusive mix of art, cultural and musical shows. The young and hip area, with streets resonating with jazz, rock and afro-beats.
La Saga du Rhum museum, Saint Pierre
This museum recounts the tales of the island’s rum history and present. This sugar cane-based alcohol is spotlighted in a way that offers a sensory experience to visitors.