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Trip Report

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Trip Report

We travelled to a very special place over Easter 2010. We booked a flight to Ile Maurice with stopover in Reunion thinking that Ile Maurice is going to be the star attraction of this trip and allowed only 3 days stopover in Reunion on the way to Maurice. We could not have been more wrong! I admit we have a small weakness in choosing our travel destinations; given there are so many places to visit on our list and so little time we allow ourselves to be guided by the natural beauty of the place.

Well…Ile Maurice allured us with its fabulous blue of the lagoons and mountain peaks as seen on thousands of photos. Reunion remained a mystery to me with limited images posted on Google and very few reports about it. I first encountered some info on the island when I researched info on the best island hikes in the world about 7 years ago. Reunion was listed as one of the greatest after Hawaii. I was fascinated by the images of vertical cliffs of the mountains cutting through the sky, their peaks covered in fog, waterfalls and greenery of the place…It remained a “must visit” place for me, however back then the flights were so unaffordable and inconvenient that this dream was put on hold for a while.

And then Air Austral was introduced to Australian market. The airline is fantastic, with great service, good food and entertainment, operates in Europe for about 3 decades and connects all French overseas territories with flights connecting directly from Paris to Sydney via Reunion and on to New Caledonia. In Indian Ocean it connects all the islands one wants to visit, e.g. from Reunion on to Madagascar, Seychelles, Comoros, Mayotte, Mauritius etc. It is in no way a budget airline as some people believe; and when we talk about service, as an example we had to change our ticket to postpone out departure from Reunion – it cost us AUD 60 and no extra charges. And we thought that for the price we paid, our tickets would be totally inflexible.

We paid AUD $1,303 for a return flight with Air Austral from Sydney to Ile Maurice (Port Louis) incl taxes with 3-days stopover in Reunion (Saint Denis). We then planned to spend 5 days in Ile Maurice. Well it turned out that after Maurice we returned to Reunion, changed our flights and spent extra 4 days in Reunion on the way back to Sydney.

Below I list all the places we visited in Reunion over 7 days in order that we should have done it if we planned a 7 day stay in Reunion. Because we had our stay in Reunion broken into 2 halves we circumnavigated the island twice in different directions and in somewhat more scatted order than that presented below.

We arrived to Saint Dennis airport “Roland Garros”, Reunion on Sunday evening around 7.30pm, just in time to get the rental car from the airport.

Make sure you arrange with airport car rentals – Sixt, Avis, Budget, Alamo, Thrifty - long time in advance and confirm before you arrive the time of your arrival, time you intend to pick the car and what type of car you drive. Note airport car rentals close at 9pm so if they don’t have a reservation they may shut the shop. There are hardly any automatic cars in Reunion and you have to book them long in advance.

On a personal note, we booked automatic, but when we arrived there was none available. We could not drive manual, and had to wait for airport Information desk assistant to give us a lift to St Gilles les Bains on her way home (which would have cost us Euro 100 in taxi). We had to wait though from 5pm to 1am – not the best way to start a trip. By the way airport also closes at 12am (so you cannot overnight there), so the best guess is capital Saint Denis 20min by taxi if you have no transport arranged.

Before you start reading please print out the map of the island. The island is close to being egg shaped running from north (with the capital St Denis) towards south (St Pierre is a weekend getaway for the northerners). It has 210km of coastline and is part of the Mascarene Islands like Maurice and Rodrigue. The population of almost 800 thousand people resides in Reunion.

The map will help you to visualise that the island is formed by two volcanic groupings (1) Piton des Neiges in the North East (with 3070m the highest peak) dominates the three extinct volcanic craters (cirques), which can be accessed from the east side (Cirque de and Cirque de Mafate) and west side (Cirque de Cilaos) and (2) Piton des Fournaise (2631m) which is an active volcano erupting several times every year.

In summary, eastern side of the island offers magnificent green landscapes, with lots of rivers and waterfalls, lots of hiking activity plus access to an active volcano Piton de la Fournaise. Western side of the island is intended for relaxation at St Gilles les Bains (and around it) lagoon and cultural experience with multiple bars, cafes, restaurants and St Pierre.

Unfortunately we spend only a few hours in capital St Denis and thus made a big mistake for not staying there longer, e.g. couple of days upon arrival would have been perfect. The capital is an architectural marvel, which reminds you of old Nice or Cannes with a touch of Creole character and colonial past (established in 1669). It is fair to note that the rich cultural patrimony of St Denis is almost parallel to mainland southern France. Office de Tourisme Saint Denis: tel 0262 41 83 00 or email : otinord@wanadoo.fr

If you are to circumnavigate the island clock wise from St Dennis, the places to visit are:

The first point of interest on our list was Cirque de Mafate and Cirque de Salazie. So from the airport we headed east to Grand-Ilet (we had the 1st night booked in a small gite which cost us 50 euro for triple room with breakfast). We took highway N2 route towards Saint-Andre, turn on D48 towards Salazie and turn to D52 towards Grand-Ile and le Belier. There are numerous accommodations around Salazie (village), Voile de la Mariee, and Mare-a-Poule-d’Eau. All allow access to cirques de Mafate and Salazie.

Grand-Ile is further away and requires navigation through a very windy road however an advantage of staying there is very close proximity to Cirque de Mafate and its hikes.

In the morning we opened blue shatters of our gite and were greeted with a view of sheer grandeur of the 3,000m peaks, waterfalls running thru the green forests on the slopes of the mountains....the owner of the little Gite offered us a breakfast served on a long village table where 10 other guests were already sited and you share coffee, fresh baguettes, butter and island jams with everyone else...not much...but more than enough to make you happy - it is not the food that fulfils you but the sincere "bonjour" from everyone at the table, warm smiles from people you have never seen in your life and probably will never see again...and yet at this moment you feel like all of you share something special ... you pick up your gear, and off to hike the Salazi tracks...

After breakfast we continued driving for another 10 min up the road (ask at your gite), but in any case there is only one road going up and reached an entrance to Cirque de Mafate parking lot. Parking assistant is there, however we got advice not to live any valuables in the car if we were to leave for a long time (i.e. few days hiking).

The car park (whilst being an entrance to Mafate) offers stunning views of Salazie.

Once you leave your car in a parking lot, you will continue on foot towards the entrance to Mafate, where you have a wonderful view point of Mafate and a café…after that you enter the Cirque de Mafate and if you only have time for a short walk – go straight past the map post – you will reach another view point in another 20 min and that is where the start of all tracks in Mafate begins….by the way you won’t be alone  when we were there over Easter, the tracks were full of people – with kids, and alone, and hippies and professionals – it seemed like there was not a chance to find yourself on your own….Tracks in Mafate range from few hours to few day. We have not done Salazie, however given the close proximity it won’t be a problem to get info if you stay overnight in Salazie.

Very Important! Make sure you visit the cirques well before 10am if you want to take a good clear shot (though never free of mountain haze). After 10am clouds come in and cover up the mountain peaks within the cirques with close to zero visibility.

We then proceeded back to main highway (N2) and just after Saint-Benoit took turn to N3 towards La Plaine-des-Palmistes getting ready to find another overnight place. It is interesting but the villages there don’t have a name other than 1st village (Premier Village), 2nd village (Deuxiene village). We stayed there overnight at the place called La Ferme du Pommeau at 10 Allee des Pois de Senteur, La Plaine des Palmistes ph: 0262 51 40 70

The place has won a number of awards, and was very clean, modern with its own restaurant (excellent food) and own farm  the prices were reasonable at euro 70 per night for a double room plus extra euro 8 for breakfast per person. We had dinner at the hotel restaurant and it was superb, although the price range is of an upper end. For mains the prices are: euro 19 for entrecote and euro 25 for duck.

I guess the price was our main reason to drive to the village for overnight stay – we didn’t have anything booked in advance…however the Premiere Village happened to be located in a very picturesque valley surrounded by mountains and reminiscent of a Swiss village with roads lined up with platan trees starting to show some yellowish colours. Given Reunion is in southern hemisphere, as autumn is approaching there is a fall and the temperature drops down to +2C in winter in the mountains. There is great shop / museum in the Premier Village called Domaine des Tourelles (Artisanat de La Reunion), which has beautiful gardens and sells beautiful prints and photos, souvenirs. It is located at 260 Rue de la Republique, La Plaine des Palmistes.

One part of the island which we skipped (unforgivably) is Piton de la Fournaise (an active volcano), which would have been accessible by driving N3 towards Bourg-Murat (La Plaine-des-Cafres) and turning into RF5 via Nez de Beouf and towards Cratere Bory. We could have done tracking along the crater rim and see the old lava routes from top down…We were short on time because our trip was broken down in halves. However this could have been done if we had straight 7 days in the island. We consoled ourselves with the fact that we just got back from Hawaii in march 2010 and had seen active volcano.

Instead after our overnight and visiting the Domaine des Tourelles, we returned to main highway N2 and drove down past Saint-Anne and Saint-Rose.

St Rose is most known for its suspension bridge (pont suspendu) which is a magnificent work built in 19th century – worth visiting. Sadly this bridge is notorious for being the favourite place to commit suicide in the island.

We also stopped by the church – Notre Dame des Laves – bordered with the lava stream that stopped right in front of its door in April 1977, whereas the village Piton St Rose was partially destroyed.

On the way we made a small detour to Anse des Cascades. This is nothing more than a beautiful fishing village and a park with the table for a great lunch, multiple waterfalls streaming down the mountain sides straight into the ocean.

Lava routes start at Saint-Rose and continue as far as le Tremblet…as you drive you see clearly marked sigh posts along the road noting the year of lava flow….you can have nice coffee stops along the way…

As you make your way down towards south, on the way between Saint-Philippe and Saint-Joseph there is Cap Méchant. You can walk on foot along the Cap and the walk offers some magnificent view points, unusual lava formations and beautiful tree setting.

Our next stop was Langevin falls (cascade de la Grand Ravine, Riviere Langevin).

Right at the bridge over the river Riviere Langevin close to the village of Langevin there is a small road at the east side of the river leading to Grand Galet and into the river valley. After roughly 6 km you reach the first waterfall of the valley, Cascade du Trou Noir. There is a short side trail (10 min) to the falls which are located in a beautiful setting so take your lunch with you. To reach the second waterfall you really have to trust your driving abilities and your car since from now on the road gets very narrow and winds through extremely steep serpentines with narrow twists. In Europe, this road would have been designated as one-way road...on La Reunion you'll have two-way traffic on the same road. This means you have to be very careful while driving, never stop on your way UP (it's then hardly possible to get your car moving UP again) and blow your horn frequently. It's a real experience and after a short while it's even fun!

After the first serpentines you'll reach the second waterfall, Cascade de la Grand Ravine, located right at the roadside. The following serpentines only lead to the small village of Grand Galet where the road ends. So if you don't intend to hike further into the valley it makes no sense to drive beyond the second waterfall (unless you have fun driving, of course).

We spent some of the most fabulous hours swimming in the waterfalls and eating the fruits which we picked up in some of markets we passed on the way.

For the 3rd night sleep we ventured into Manapany-les-Bains passing St Joseph on the way in hope to find cheaper accommodation in Manapany.

Manapany-les-Bains is a little coastal village with numerous accommodation and we stopped at the little motel which cost us euro 40 per double room per night (no breakfast provided). We went to Saint Joseph for a dinner that night (5 min away) at the place called Silver Bar on 119 Rue Raphael Babet, Saint Joseph, ph: 0262 37 65 50. The restaurant served a good entrecote and totalled euro 62 for three people with house wine.

Manapany does not have a beach as such. However the main attraction of Manapany is its enclosed natural swimming pool right in the surf. The area of the pool is quite large and waives keep crushing constantly which provides a lot of excitement to local little girls and boys who swim like dolphins in the whirlpools of foam and waives. The excitement takes over and in 5 minutes you regress back to childhood carried away with joy and laughter…

In the morning we drove to Saint-Pierre, stopped there for breakfast and walk around. It is an excellent base for the longer stop over, with the town considered to be a Capitale du Sud. The town has a beautiful promenade (longest amongst the islands in the Indian Ocean) with the strip of cafes and restaurants. Saint –Pierre is also considered to be a capital of nightlife and many locals living in the north head over to Saint-Pierre for a relaxing weekend.

The place we choose for breakfast was called Le Retro (34 Boulevard Hubert Deliste), extremely stylish café, which unfortunately serves coffee and croissants for breakfast. Their chef arrives at 10am and that’s when the proper breakfast can be ordered. We were too impressed with the interior design, so we didn’t mind. The café had an exhibition of a local painter and if you like some works, the owner of the café can put you in touch with the painter. The owner also told us that similar exhibitions happen all over Saint Pierre, so if you are into paintings from local artists, Saint Pierre is definitely the place to visit.

There are lots of other cafes next to Le Retro on Boulevard Hubert Deliste (pretty much across the road from the waterfront). On the other side of the Boulevard Hubert Deliste we found a painting shop which specialises in a creative painting design from Madagascar. Very beautiful and unusual technique used right in the studio.

Driving further up towards Saint Leu, you may want to stop at the sugar museum called Musee Stella Matutina. The place is open from Monday to Sunday between 9:30am to 17:30pm, price for adult if euro 7 and student euro 2.50.

The site www.otebiye.com gives you an idea of all entertainment activity in Reunion, so check before you go.

We continued our way to the most memorable village on the island called La Saline-les-Bains and its magnificent Plage de Trou d'Eau – our favourite beach on the lagoon because of the fantastic bar on the sand called Laverie Saline.

We ate three times at this bar – always great experience and above all great atmosphere in this place always full of young people, majorly Europeans, you may hear German Italian...and lots of French ....The menu is versatile with entrecote, tuna tartar, fish, and Creole variety and always complemented by fresh French baguette.

NB I cannot say the same about some bars / restaurants on Rue du Boucan Canot (i.e. Cote Plage bar where the food was very average). A regular lunch at Laverie Saline cost us euro 63 for entrecote / tuna lunch for three people including soft drinks. The quality of their food guarantees that the bar fills in at lunch time and is full until 4 – 5 pm, when it closes for the day.

There is another bar next to it which stays open into the night, so activity never stops there.

Indian ocean does not offer a refreshing experience - the water is so warm and crystal clear - it is like floating in the air....of course when you are swimming in the blue lagoon next to Saline les Bains....rare umbrellas on the beach, you are your own master of the lagoon...no one around - picture just you on the sand, pale blue lagoon, and deep blue sky and joy, joy,joy ...In the afternoon, if the wind picks up the beach becomes crowded with young and old wind surfers…the sight you would not want to miss 

One thing that really impressed us was loads of French people coming on the plane from Paris to Reunion....locals also explained to us (with a lot of contempt for French government) that numerous French companies open their branches in Reunion and import majority of staff from France leaving locals unemployed and slowing down their career progression by giving preference to highly qualified mainland French people...

You DO want to stay in La Saline-les-Bains. You can rent a beachfront house for euro 500 a week or have a hotel room at a premium euro 120 a night for triple with breakfast. The experience is incomparable.

We stayed overnight in the little hotel on the beachfront called La Maison du Lagon at 72 Rue Auguste Lacaussade, La Saline-les-bains ph: 0262 24 30 14, site www.lamaisondulagon.com. Once outside the hotel and facing the road, L’Hermitage will be towards your left and Saline-les-Bains centre towards your right.

The place is pricy by Reunion standards, at euro 120 for triple room with breakfast, or euro 70 per single room with breakfast. However a 6-night package will cost euro 432 for a double room, cheaper than a house. The place is perfect for a relaxing stay and I wish we had a few days to extend our stay there. The place is within walking distance from the main shops (food / clothing) in Saline les Bains and is beachfront.

We continued to Saint-Gilles-les-Bains (simply Saint Gilles), small touristy village. It is located between two superb beaches of Boucan Canot and L’Hermitage.

Enroute we have done a helicopter tour with pick up from Mercure Hotel (Mercure Blue beach in L’Hermitage located at Avenue de la Mer-les-Filaos, ph: (+262) 0262 24 50 25, site www.mercure.com ). The tour is magnificent, and whilst costly (at euro 260 per person), the memories are incomparable.

The company we used is called Helilagon and has two locations: (1) Heliport de L’Eperon Saint-Paul (close to L’Hermitage) and (2) Aeroport Roland Garros (close to St Denis and St-Marie, whatever is closer to you).

You can drive to l’Eperon helicopter office yourself, however you need to have good directions and be aware that some part of the road is unsealed. Between Saint-Gilles and Boucan Canot there is D10 road inland (also called Route de Theatre). You need to continue along D10 until you approach large round about and select an exit Saint-Gilles-les-Hauts, continue for a little longer and turn left when you see the Helilagon sign. Check out their site www.helilagon.com or call on 0262 55 55 55. It is easier to arrange a free pick up from your hotel (if you stay close by).

After helicopter tour we continued on towards Boucan Canot, which is an excellent base to have day trips to Le Bassin des Cormorans (waterfalls) and Piton Maido (2203 m).

We stayed in the Boucan Canot, which stretches between Cap Homard and Cap la Houssaye. The small hotel right on the beach called La Villa du Soleil (54 RN plage de Boucan Canot, 97434 Saint Gilles Les Bains, Ile de la Réunion, Tél : +262 (0) 262 24 38 69 http://www.lavilladusoleil.com )

The place was absolutely basic, no stars, but offered a parking lot, clean bed, shower, breakfast and superb location. They charged us euro 54 per double room per night. Whoever said Reunion is expensive needs to do a proper research. Interesting fact is that there are no 5 star hotels on Reunion. Once you are outside of Villa du Soleil, if you turn right you will access a rocky part of the beach in 3 minutes next to Cap Homard - locals love the little basins between the rocks; and if you turn left you will access main Boucan Canot beach in 5 min walking with all its bars, cafes etc.

Boucan Canot beaches also offer magnificent sunset.

Our little villa de Soleil was just next door to the only 4 star hotel on the island called

Hotel Le Boucan Canot, where the French president F. Mitterand stayed long time ago. The place is located at 32 RN plage de Boucan Canot. It is pricy, however is very presentable and stylish. Check their site http://www.boucancanot.com

You can find lots of little bars / cafes / restaurants right on Rue du Boucan Canot in front of the beach.

Boucan Canot beaches also offer magnificent sunset.

Our little villa de Soleil was just next door to the only 4 star hotel on the island called

Hotel Le Boucan Canot, where the French president F. Mitterand stayed long time ago. The place is located at 32 RN plage de Boucan Canot. It is pricy, however is very presentable and stylish. Check their site http://www.boucancanot.com

You can find lots of little bars / cafes / restaurants right on Rue du Boucan Canot in front of the beach.

Make sure you do NOT stop for lunch at Cote Plage (65 Rue du Boucan Canot), as the place serves very average quality of food, albeit was very busy at lunch time which was misleading.

One of the places we had dinner and liked it was La Boucantine, 29, rue de Boucan-Canot, BOUCAN-CANOT , Tél : (0262) 33 62 10. The dinner totalled euro 84 for three people including drinks.

The most incredible part of the landscape are waterfalls, which are so numerous in Reunion that it becomes a regular feature of the scenery when you drive by yet another one. We visited two grand waterfalls and the experience of swimming in the crystal pools of water, so cold that it makes your skin numb is exhilarating. Later some locals told us that eels live under the stones, but they are harmless to human and for most part are scared of humans...thankfully we have not seen one....the waterfalls are frequented by locals who seek refuge in the mountains from beachfront heat and humidity.

From Boucan Canot you can take a D10 road towards Saint-Gilles les Hauts and you will reach Le Bassin des Cormorans (waterfalls of the cormorants basin in Saint Gilles). Known also as Bassin de la Ravine Saint-Gilles: Bassin des Cormorans, bassin des trois roches ou des Aigrettes, bassin malheur, bassin bleu.

There are no particular signs of entrance to access waterfall. The access is made from the parking lot (literally a hole in the fence) next to a café / bar on the right side of the road en route to Saint-Gilles les Hauts. You will see numerous cars on the right side of the road and this is a sure sign you are in the right spot. Once you enter the little path, you will soon see water pipes and you may safely follow the path towards the waterfalls. It may feel spooky sometimes, however there are lots of people passing by and you hardly ever will be alone on your way. There is probably a proper way that leads to this waterfall and you may enquire in your hotel, however we were guided by a local guy and didn’t have to bother with details.


The day trip to Piton Maido (2203m high) which opens up a view onto Cirque de Mafate is a must however make sure you wake up REALLY EARLY. As early as you can to ensure you arrive at Maido before the clouds are out, say 7 – 8 am is perfect time. It is a very long and windy drive and as we found when we got there we were very disappointed as we could see absolutely NOTHING because of fog by 10am.

The main roads to Maido connect from either Saint Paul or Saint-Gilles; in 10min you will pass Bernica and after that it is a slow winding serpentine via le Guillaume and Petite France. It takes hour and a half each way to drive to the very top (from where the super view point is located). Besides the place is a must on all tourist;s agendas and locals frequent it as well. As such the road may be busy with tourist buses (which will slow your pace as well).

Our trip was aimed at seeing the island and taking photos of it. However if you are an active kind, then you will definitely enjoy surfing - the island is famous for its surf beaches or diving which is superb.

There are no signs of poverty on the island - be it the frequency of cyclones (December is the most notorious for cyclones), or diligent approach of vendors, the houses (Creole and French alike) make you feel like being in a fairytale - yellow, white, orange or red earth colour with white and blue shatters, high off the ground and freshly painted make you believe the island prospers and above that that you share the pride of local population for being privileged to live in the paradise...appearance means a lot to locals, and makes part of the culture of the islanders - just as much as their culture transpires through their attitude and behaviours - everywhere you go you will be greeted, a gesture far long obsolete from the “good manner” guide of our developed and urbanised world. Smiles and greetings make you belong and you instantly feel at home...the greatness comes from humble beginning 

The French government contributes a lot to the island's development and one of the outstanding achievements are Reunion roads. In particular there is “Route des Tamarins”, which was awarded 2nd place for engineering and architectural design after the Dubai metro in the world. The road that cost French government $1.1bn euros for 21.5 miles of road to built ...and you take this road in a middle of Indian Ocean and you see yourself driving from Nice to Monaco ...the drive takes you through the tunnels, 23 bridges, over 120 ravine crossings, by the beautiful coast with numerous ships on horizon and mountain slopes that risk to fall every minute....the road tops the infrastructure achievement and creates this special bride between the nature and human progress intertwined together in such a balanced way that it does make you believe that you are in the most perfect place in th world....

The Reunion climate is awesome...on a coast the temperature never gets below 27-29 C and the hottest 35 - 36 C in summer...the mountains have their own microclimate and it gets as cold as 2C in winter and 25 - 27 in summer :) the cyclones are possible between November and April with the most frequent being in December...and the dry season is between November and October...we visited the island over Easter in early April and we did not have a day of rain. Locals also told us that this time of the year is the best to visit with low probability of cyclones, dryer air and less humidity, lots of flowers after the summer rain and green slopes of the mountains, fields of emerald green sugar cane growing above human height.....autumn greets you with red falling platan leaves in the mountain valleys and yellow plains of savannah.... Just magic!

To be able to see is the greatest gift a person has and to be able to travel to see different sites of this planet is the most amazing experience a life can offer...and I value this ability above all other comforts and pleasures of life…only one thing can top this experience - that is to be able to share things you see with someone who appreciates this as much as you do.... surrounding yourself with beauty has a power to change ones life, the impact of beautiful places is just as strong...the simple beauty of landscape created before us and remaining there long after we are gone humbles with its sheer grandeur ....it makes you realise how relative everything that we consider irreplaceable in our material world and how superficial the values we live by are... I don't think I ever experienced such an innocent, almost childish joy simply from jumping into the waterfall...or being swept away by the whirlpool of white foamy waives of Indian Ocean...the pure joy of relating to nature…. The place to experience all of the above is Reunion Island and I am in love with it.

Sydney, Australia
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1. Re: Trip Report

Thanks a million for your wonderful trip details to Reunion Island- we are going in April for 3 nights on our way to Madagascar. We are arriving late on the Sat night - where did you stay in St Denis?We then want to set off for the next two days - we definately want to go to Piton de la Fournaise- I am sure we can work this out from your details - any hints are welcome.

Christchurch, New...
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2. Re: Trip Report

HI we are also going to go to Reunion on our way to and from Madagascar. We will have one night on the way there but now are planning to spend 4 night there on the way home. In 4 days what would be your recommendations for things not to miss?


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3. Re: Trip Report

Hi there, if i had 4 days, i would visit the following:

(1) waterfall called Bassin de la Ravine St Gilles (or also known as Bassin Bleu) near St Gilles - ask your hotel for correct directions pls - this magnificent waterfall is not well marked on the map - but all locas know about it;

(2) drive to Piton Maido (2203m high) which opens up a view onto Cirque de Mafate (make sure you are there before 9am as it is worthless to drive 1.5 hours and see the Piton and Cirque completely covered in fog). If accidentaly you woke up after 8am - don't even try to drive there, you will waste your energy and precious time,

(3) an active volcano called Piton de la Fournaise. However if you have seen any other big volcano before, (3a) i'd suggest visiting Cirque de Mafate from St Andre side instead as this grand cirque is unique to Reunion while volcano not so) and

(4) Langevin falls (cascade de la Grand Ravine, Riviere Langevin).

If you chose to cover south-east side of the island only (for 1, 2,3 and 4) you can:

- easily fit (1) + (2) in one day as both are pretty much on the same road / direction plus visit few beaches around the lagone, especialy Plage de Trou d'Eau. For that part of the trip i would locate myself in any of the following little places around the lagone i.e. Boucan Canot, St Gilles les Bains, L'Hermitage les Bains and La Saline les Bain.

- As for (3)+(4) I would probably have it covered in 2 days with overnight in St Pierre. While you are heading south to St Pierre you can also enjoy a famous Route des Tamarins (the most expensive piece of road) and visit few smaller places along the way incl Manapany-les-Bains and Cap Mechant etc.

Alternatively to see all of the above (incl 3a), you could drive clockwise as follows (with overnights in different place every night) - pls follow the map:

- from St Denis towards St Andre for Cirque de Mafate (3a)

- from Cirque de Mafate down to Volcano (3) - down to St Pierre

- from St Pierre via Langevine falls (4) north to St Gilles les Bains (1 & 2)

hope that helps a bit ;)

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4. Re: Trip Report

Hi there,

unfortunately we didn't have an overnight in St Denis, so i don't have any personal opinion on any of St Denis hotels. Pls check tripadvisor.

as for couple of days on the island heading down towards Volcano - it all depends if you wish to concentrate on Cirque de Mafate + Cirque Salazie (east side of the island) or lagon + grand waterfalls (west side of the island) - both ways are heading down towards south (volcano) from St Denis. if you are thinking of circumnavigate the island in 2 days - you will be spending most of the time driving - not good idea.

sorry again re St Denis hotel. best of luck - you will love Reunin :)

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5. Re: Trip Report


i wanted to ask you re your arrangements on Madagascar. We are planning this trip (again with Air Austral) in August this year, but have not made up our minds re organised tour vs independent.

What are you doing?

thanks a lot

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6. Re: Trip Report

Hi there again :)

I also wanted to ask you about your planned trip to Madagascar. We are planning to go to M in August this year and are two minds about independent trip vs organised. How are you doing it?

best regards

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7. Re: Trip Report

Thanks so much, Solvo - what a fabulous trip report!

Basically answered every question i had (and didn't even know i had) re. Reunion Island.

Victoria, Australia
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8. Re: Trip Report

Hi Solvo...

THANK YOU so much for what would be one of the most incredible trip reports I have ever had the pleasure to read on TA.

Incredible detail and vividly portrayed.

I knew NOTHING about this island until I read a post in the Seychelles forum saying Seychelles vs Mauritius vs Reunion. I'd NEVER heard of Reunion Island.

You have me captivated. Do you have any photo's on the web anywhere of your trip that can be viewed?

Did you end up going to Madagascar in August and back to Reunion? Did you like that trip also and if you have reviewed them, can you point me to the post please.

Thank you so much

Cheers.... wishtago :)

Saint Andre, La...
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9. Re: Trip Report

Hi, I also find this report to be absolutely great. I live in La REunion and I am in the process of setting up a small guset house. It will be based at Saint Andre to welcome travellers visiting this side of the island near Salazie and La Plaines Des Palmistes.

However can you suggest other forms of marketing to touch a larger population in Australia. Trip Advisor is great but maybe advertising in a newspaper classified ads would bring the establishment to the people.

I hope you can help.

PS: I am a Seychellois living in La Reunion and as the post above said even I didn't know much about this island before coming here.

10. Re: Trip Report

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