Réunion calling – a tropical island with a difference

Posted by Caroline Webb on 14 August 2019

Piton de la Fournaise is Réunion’s ace up its sleeve. It’s what makes it different – very different – from East Africa’s other islands. That’s because ‘Peak of the Furnace’ is an active volcano (it last erupted earlier this week). Another peak, the dormant Piton de Neiges, is the highest point in the Indian Ocean (3 ,069m), and a popular day hike.

Réunion has three cirques, deep volcanic craters that each offer a different world.

A visit to Réunion can sometimes feel like you’re in Jurassic Park, with its jungly, rainforested interior filled with waterfalls (the cirques or calderas, home to quaint villages such as the inaptly named Hell-Bourg, are a World Heritage Site). At other times, it can feel like you’re on another planet – the volcanic activity has resulted in lunar landscapes, black-sand beaches and unique lava tunnels to explore.

Being a tropical island, it also has azure waters, golden beaches, palm trees, local rum – plus all the action any daredevil desires (hiking, kloofing, paragliding, mountain biking, horse riding, watersports). It’s a distant province of France, so the prices, language, architecture, food and vibe are distinctly Gallic. This also means it has good infrastructure and great roads – on the new six-lane highway built on columns rising out of the sea, it will feel like you’re heading into the future.

Plan your Trip

Getting There
Flights from Joburg go via Mauritius. From R8,600 per person return. airmauritius.com

Stay Here
Réunion is suitable for a self-drive, self-catering holiday, staying with the locals at gîtes (inns or guest houses) – some are basic, for hikers, while others offer more of a spoil; there are also campsites with furnished tents. Budget from about R600 per person.
Or rent a Blacksheep camper van, from R1,415 a day. allonslareunion.com
LUX Saint Gilles is the only five-star resort, with direct access to the lagoon. From around R1,350 per person sharing. luxresorts.com

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