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What to expect on La Reunion?
La Reunion is an excellent Island for hiking, canyoning,
diving and all other kind of outdoor activities. All different levels in all
sport activities are offered which makes it interesting for everyone.
The nature and the amazing scenery are unique in the world
and the location in the Indian Ocean makes the climate very tropical also. La
Reunion is still very untouristy, but as it’s part of France it is equipped with
all European infrastructure.
But it is NOT an ideal Island to
make vacation with our family.
There are no typical family activities – it’s
-> when it’s raining there is nothing to do. And it rains quite often
The Hiking tours are quite difficult, because
the terrain is very steep
There are not so many swimming areas, because
the water is very rough
It’s a long
flight from the main European airports (Frankfurt 11h plus stopover on Mauritis)
Driving on La Reunion takes time and has a lot
of steep curves –> sickness
How long to stay?
That all depends what you are planning to do. We made a
complete round trip with some hikes and some days at the beach in 14 days which
is the limit if you want at least to see most of it.
There are some excellent 3-7 day hikes in the inner island to
places where you will not be able to go by car. So you can easily spend 3 weeks
when you also want to explore the amazing inner wildlife, basins and gorges.
Threats and diseases ?
La Reunion is a very safe island with nearly no crime at all.
Nature wise there are no deadly and poison animals like
spiders or snakes.
So a perfect country for exploring the nature
When to go?
Well don’t travel during Cyclone time. Best time is
September/October because of less rain and no main tourists season.
What you should keep in mind.
La Reunion is a French Arrondisement, which means it belongs
to France. This you will recognise a lot. With the traffic and driving stills,
the garbage lying around sometimes , the language – nearly no English is spoken
(no problem in the west but no chance in the east). Everything is written only
in French and all tours are in French!
BUT tourists are very welcome and invited, not like in France
Official Homepage of La Reunion
make the tour clockwise! The weather is nearly
always bad at the East side. So you will drive everyday into better weather.
Entre-Deux, St Pierre, St Joseph, and all the
other big towns are not worth visiting
St Denis – honestly not worth it
Buy some fruits at the little market stand
beside the street – excellent
Spend some days in the beach area around St
Gilles with snorkelling and relaxing
St Denis Airport to Mare a Vielle Place/Cirque de Salazie
the small airport we took the N2 to Mare á vielle Place, a little bit further
from Salazie into the Cirque de Salazie. Here is a very nice located Hotel with
an excellent view into the amazing mountain scenery. (Hotel Le Domaine des
The Hotel has a restaurant with real nice food, but also in
the village itself you find a very nice small restaurant, too.
If you land early in St Denis you can make a small trip to
the Basin de Boef with a 1h return hike around here before continuing to St.
Salazie. Also an excellent spot for swimming under a waterfall.
Mare a Vielle Place – Bourg Murat (2h)
If you have one day in this area don’t miss to visit the
little creolean village Hell-Bourg. This would be also the starting point for
many hiking tracks. In Hell-Bourg visit also the Villa Folio which is located
beside the centre. There is a little office de tourisme in the second floor of
the market building.
On the way further to the next stop in Bourg Murat you will
pass la Plaines des Palmistes. Behind this village you will find the amazing
forest Bebour-Belouve. A little but good street will wind up to a little hiking
hut. Beside the street there are many possibilities for different hikes through
the rainforest which are all well marked. The most popular track is the Tour de
Fer which will end in an astonishing overview to the Cirque and some nicest
waterfall of the ile. But to do this track you would need 4-5h, but worth doing
BUT be aware that the tracks are very muddy and not easy to
walk. Also the walking times mentioned in most guides are normaly too short.
Another track which is mentioned a lot is the Track to the upper Takamaka. In my
opinion not worth doing it. The track is especially very muddy and not a round
If you follow now the main road further you will come to
Bourg Murat which is a perfect place for a stopover. The nice Hotel
directly at the main street. The restaurant beside Le Panoramic is also a very
nice place to have diner.
Bourg Murat – Piton de la Fournasie (1h) – St Rose (2h)
One of the most popular spots in La Reunion is the volcano
La Fournaise which is still one of the most active volcanoes in the world. The last
breakout was in 2007. Therefore it is one of the must does (but personally not
one of the nicest La Reunion will offer you). Most problem is the bad
micro-climate of the 2600m high volcano, which means a lot of wind and clouds,
which makes the hike up to the top useless. If the night was clear, than be
there very early before the clouds will come, If the night is already cloudy,
than have a nice breakfast and hope the best for later.
There is also a
webcam which shows you the weather at the top. The best way to explorer the Vulcano is via Helicopter from St Gilles. For
After you finished with all the activities in and around the
Fournaise it’s normally enough time to drive down to the coast again, where the
next good stop would be in St.Rose. We stayed in a nice Hotel with pool and
breakfast outside named Hotel la Frounaise.
St Rose – Etang Salè les Bains (2h)
The ride would be quite short but there is a lot to see along
the way. When you leave St Rose you will pass the little church Notre Dame des
laves, the only house which was not destroyed during the volcano eruption. The
lava path spitted just before the church, which makes this spot very religious.
Than you pass the main lava fields which will show the size
of the eruptions from the different years. Also don’t miss the little coastline
Pointe de la Table where you see the amount of lava which went down into the
sea. This is also (like everywhere) a very nice picnic are but most interesting
a fantastic walk on the lava field which went into the sea.
When you drive further on you will come to Langevin where you
should drive up to the most beautiful waterfall of the Island: Le Grand Galêt.
Spend some time to take a refreshing bat in one of the Bassins – simple great.
After this we passed St. Pierre to drive to the Hotel in
Etang Salé les Bains, a nice beach and a really nice small village. The Hotel
Floralys is a really good one with a big pool and a cosy Bar.
Etang Salè les Bains and around
We spend one day in this sunny and warm area. You can explore
a lot or just relax at the only black sanded beach on the Island. Don’t miss the
Turtle Farm Kelonia, the Blowhole Le Souffleur, a walk through St Leu. If you
are more into hiking visit the Tamarin Forest behind
Le Tévelave. All kind of tours can be found here. A short one
with a nice view and a walk through the Tamarin forest and the rainforest you
can find at the parking just before the 10km stone sign at the street after le
Etang Salè les Bains – Cirque de Cilaos (2h)
Next stop of our trip was the village Cilaos in the Cirque de
Cilaos. But before this we went up to an excellent overview of the Cirque called
La Fenêtre, which is located 10km behind les Makes. If you plan going there, you
really should be there at 8 o’clock. Because after 9am normaly the clouds will
come in. Personally it’s the best view you can get and access by car. After this
we visited the creolean village Entre-Deux which in my mind is not the trip
worth it. It’s just another village with no other highlight, sure it’s nice but
the location of the village is just not on the way.
Going up to Cilaos takes 1h with a lot of narrow streets and
curves. So be prepared. The village is bigger than expected with shops and
Restaurants. We booked the Hotel les Chenets – I guess the best in town. For
diner we can recommend the Sentinel for Creolean food and Le Restaurant in the
centre were you get nice Pizza, Pasta or Salad for a reasonable price.
Cirque de Cilaos
This old volcano is a real amazing place to be, IF the
weather will be good. Unfortunately this is just a gamble. But if it’s good,
than the views are spectacular. There are a lot of hikes you can do, where an
overview can be downloaded here. On spot can be access by car (or also by foot
via a nice track through the forest: here the GPS data) which is called La Roche
Merveilleuse where you have a nice overview on Cilaos and the surrounding.
Another famous hike is the Bras Rouge where you have an
Do the hike up to Point de Neige 3080m, the highest mountain
on the Island. There is no easier mountain higher than 3000m I know to climb up
(6h up 4h down)
Skip one night in Cilaos and make a reservation at the Hostel
up the hill in the tourist Information. You only have good weather in the
morning, which means one morning climb up – relax a little have nice diner at
the hut, and next morning enjoy the spectacular view from the top and hike back
Cirque de Cilaos – Tévelave (2h)
Our next stop was Tévelave, where we’ve already been in the
Tamarin forest. Also today would be an excellent chance to make a nice tour
here. All kind of tours can be found here. A short one with a nice view and a
walk through the Tamarin forest and the rainforest you can find at the parking
just before the 10km stone sign at the street after le Tévelave.
Before going to Tévelave you can also visit some other town
like St. Pierre. But honestly the towns around this area, specially St. Pierre
are dirty and old places. Nothing you would miss if you pass this town.
In Tévelave we had a kind of Gitê called
Les Fougeres, but with a
better standard and a nice bar and good restaurant. From the terrace you have an
excellent view down to the sea.
Tévelave - Maido (1h) – Saline-les-bains (1h)
Maido is a must on La Reunion. From this high overview point
you have a fantastic view into the Cirque de Mafat. There is a nice hike going
up to an special view, where you can have a look into both Cirques – Mafat and
Cilaos, opposite of the Piton du Niege at 2800m hight. The walk up there is
always at the edge of the mountain and is easy to walk – always steadily
upwards. Unfortunately we couldn’t make it all up, so therefore not the whole
tour as GPX data for download.
After this we drove down to the last stay. Saline-les-bains
part of St Gilles – the always sunny beach coast of La Reunion. A lot of nice
Hotels can be found here. We stayed at a really nice one - Le Nautille with own
beach, nice bar and good restaurant, and nice pool.
We stayed 4 extra days here to relax and enjoy the sun. A
must do is snorkelling – normaly every hotel has the equipment for free. Also
canoes are good fun in the afternoon to explore the lagoon.
We really can recommend a very nice Hotel directly at
the beach called
Short trips can be done from here (some already mentioned
St Gilles during the afternoon and spend
a night either only for a good diner or a long night in one of the clubs. For
diner we can recommend the
One of the best short hiking tours is
noire, which you find in every Travel guide. Either you can make a 2h round trip
or simply walk 15min to have an excellent overview into the Cirque de Mafat.
Maido is also one of the most attractive spots
to access via car. Here you have an fantastic view into the whole Cirque de
Mafat with perfect hiking tours
Visit St Leu and the
Turtle Park Kelonia
Drive up to the viewing Point La Fenêtre behind
the village Les Makes
Have a Tapas Diner during Sundown at the
Beach in l’Hermitage
AND what you must do is a Helicopter tour
around the Island. Make the whole tour. The Heliport is at the Highway exit
Saline-les-Baines and check under
www.Corailair.de. A 45min tour around the Island costs 220€ and is worth the
money. If the weather is bad and there is no sight they will shift the tour, so
don’t worry to be ripped off by flying and seeing nothing.
We spend only 2 days as stopover, so we do not have an
overview around the Island. So therefore I have to be careful what to write now.
Mauritius is run by Indian. This you see everywhere (ragged
houses) and smell everywhere (ragged cars). When you are in your Hotel it really
looks like Paradise, but that’s all it. When you come from La Reunion the
impression is even worth.
Driving a car is not one of the best ideas because no
directions are shown and driving is very chaotic itself ( and also dangerous ).
But without a car you really cannot do anything. So you need a driver which is
mostly recommended by the Hotel.
So if you want to plan your vacation here get
in contact with a really nice German tour guide living on the Island for 20
years now. He can organise you everything including an really nice apartment or
Hotel. Have a look under
As Hotel we can recommend
Le Sakoa. A small but
very exquisite Hotel with own beach, which can be booked also by the
definitely should book the sea view apartments away from the street.
No real night life is yet available. There is a
bar serving also food called 1974 which is 200m further having life music at the
week-ends. Beside you have another nice lounge the Four Season.
A very good restaurant is called Le Pestacore
which is 1,5km at the beach further upwards near the Yacht harbour.
In Grand Baie you will fine some nightlife and
pubs and restaurants. Either get a Taxi or get a Hotel there
don’t miss the oldest Japanese Restaurant on the Island –
BUT NEVER walk in the dark. The criminality is quite high in
general. Also as a women never travel somewhere or visit something alone!!!