Holiday to La Reunion

A few weeks ago Jo and I embarked on one of our annual ‘holiday of a lifetime’s to the Isle of Reunion.

It’s an island the size of Dorset nestled between Madagascar and Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. As there is a dearth of English-language information on La Reunion (it’s a territory of France) I’m going to hand over control of my blog to Will the travel writer before posting just a handful of the 4000 photos that Jo and I took. Without further ado…

Lonely Planet got is SO wrong – Reunion is much better than they reckon

Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

Do you own goggles? Take them!
There’s coral and tropical fish-life just metres away from the beaches. Stick your face underwater and start that David Attenborough inner monologue. It’s stunning.  If you’re into diving, I have no information for you, other than I think you’re a bit weird, and that I guess you should do that instead. Hang on, Reunion has sharks though doesn’t it?

Don’t worry about sharks
See that line of waves breaking about 50 metres out to sea? That’s being caused by a coral embankment separating the ocean yonder from the beachside lagoon.  It’s impossible* for creatures the size of man-eating sharks to navigate over this natural barrier, so you’re safe to swim away. If you are still concerned, go for one of the beaches which has a Hasselhoff, just in case. Surfers and fishermen need to venture out of the lagoons and they’re the ones who are most at risk – sharks struggle to discern between surfers, fishermen and seals.
*it may be possible, but seems very unlikely

You don’t need to rent a car
The guidebooks and blogs say that it’s borderline essential to rent a car for your entire stay, we proved those people wrong (ish). The bus network is simply fantastic. The ‘inter-city’ Car Jaune services and the local run-arounds all ran to timetables so we could plan our activities around our transfers to the minute.  Having said this, the two days that we did actually rent a car were two of the stand-out days of the whole holiday. The Cascade Langevin waterfalls, Grand Brule lava fields, Puits des Anglais coastline and our essential journey up the Piton de la Fournaise would all have been very difficult, if not impossible, without a car. In fact, if we were to plan the holiday again, I’d probably push for a couple more days of car – the transfer from St Pierre to Hell-Bourg involved four buses with lengthy interchanges, and a car would have allowed us to get to the start point of a hike into the Cirque de Mafate from the Cirque de Salazie.

Reunion is very un-photogenic
Every photograph you have seen of the cirques is not representative of just how impressive they are (and we didn’t even see Mafate, which is said to be the pick of the bunch). The mountains and cliff faces are so high and steep that you either have to point the camera up or shoot on a very wide angle lens, both techniques serving to make the subjects look smaller than they are. It’s a tropical island paradise which ‘erupts’ 3000m into the sky within the space of 20 miles from the shore. It has three enormous land bowls, and one of the most active volcanoes in the world. It’s about as impressive a place as you can imagine. If you’re in two minds about going to Reunion, be led by the facts rather than the photos.

NB: I took the (excellent) decision to leave my DSLRs at home – all the below were shot on compacts – my Nikon Coolpix A or Jo’s Canon S95

Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

Quick stop-off at Mauritius airport
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

Reunion Island hoves into view
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

Craggy delights await
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

Stop 1 of 5 – Saint Leu on the west coast
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

Jo went paragliding
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion  Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

 

Me and this loveable rogue met Jo at the landing site
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

Kelonia turtle sanctuary in Saint Leu – breathtaking
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

En route to stop 2, Cilaos – all of the scenery
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

Stop 2 of 5 – Cilaos
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

It rained…
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

…a lot…

Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

 

Cilaos day 3 – the rains stop and the skies clear! (ish)
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

Classic backpacker look
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

Hairy bus ride out of the Cirque de Cilaos
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

Stop 3 of 5 – gorgeous seaside town of St Pierre
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

Guy with an iguana on his shoulder sipping a Smirnoff Ice and watching the sunset
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

Quick detour to Great Yarmouth – not really, this is St Pierre harbour with a full rainbow
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

St Pierre beach – pretty windy that evening!
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

Never tired of seeing Piton des Neiges appear on the horizon
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

We rented a car for a couple of days, during which the weather very much played ball…
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

In 2007 La Reunion’s (hyper)active volcano Piton de la Fournaise had a huge eruption which created an enormous lava flow into the sea. No-one was harmed. It took six years for the ground to cool…

Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

 

Amazing car park dogs
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

Les Cascades de Langevin (Langevin Waterfalls). Just incredible…
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

Plage Grande Anse – still the first day of the car rental, we packed in a lot!
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

Day 2 with the car – driving up the Piton de la Fournaise on my birthday!!
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

This was as close as we could get to the summit – it was experiencing a period of discumbobulation, though sadly not enough to spew out the lava that we were so hoping to see.
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

 

A ‘tek-tek’, one of the many endemic bird species on the island
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

Jo modeling the hire car
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

For an idea of the scale of this place, try to make out the cars in the laybys on the straight road…
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

Barely mentioned in the guidebooks, this gorge was enormous
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

Back in St Pierre for a birthday sunset
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

En route to Hell-Bourg, four hours waiting at a scary bus stop
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

Stop 4 of 5 – Hell-Bourg
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

The Piton des Neiges towers over Hell-Bourg. Shot during the early stages of an 8-ish hour hike.
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

The inside of a fern plant
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

After about two hours of solid up-hill we reached this view of the Cirque de Salazie from the Gite de Belouve
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

We forged on for another couple of hours to a (very oscured) view of the legendary Trou de Fer waterfalls
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

Return trip to Hell-Bourg via the Foret de Bebour-Belouve
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

Another friendly/hungry dog. I wanted to adopt them all!
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

I had looked up the lunar cycle before we went to figure out which would be the best night for some astro photography – it was such a relief that there was an unusually clear night! This was shot on my compact camera on a gorillapod tripod perched on the roof of a car.
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

Our last morning in Hell-Bourg – such an amazing village…
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

 

En route to St Denis
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

Stop 5 of 5 – Saint Denis, the largest town on the island (and home to the airport)
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

Amazing picnic – too humid to be outdoors!
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

Our Airbnb host gave us a lift to the airport – merci Roger!
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

Never has anyone been so sad to be boarding a plane to Mauritius
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

Next stop Lond… hang on – plane diversion due to passenger being taken ill (we were assured that they were fine in the end). Stop 6 of 5 – ROME!
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

 

The Pantheon – somehow missed this place on my previous trip to Rome
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

We were shattered by this point but still managed to soldier on to the Piazza Navona
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

Castel Sant’Angelo
Holiday to Reunion Island, Isle de la Reunion

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *