The Piton des Neiges, roof of the Indian Ocean
Snow on the Reunion Island is very rare, but you will see one of the most captivating sunrises: at an altitude of 3,070 metres, the Piton des Neiges is the Indian’s Ocean roof! To get there, there are several paths, including one that climbs through guava and tamarind forests from the cirque of Cilaos: seven hours of dazzling hiking in the heart of the Grand Matarum biological reserve. After a short night at the Dufour cave refuge, you must leave before dawn to cover the last few kilometres to the summit. On arrival, the 360° panorama embraces the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean and below, the three cirques (former craters) of Mafate, Salazie and Cilaos.
The coasts, a paradise for dolphins and humpback whales
Can you recognise them? More than twenty species of cetaceans have been identified off the coast of Reunion Island. A mine for travellers who can approach marine mammals in an environmentally friendly manner. Among the less shy: the spinner dolphin and the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin, which can easily be observed near the coast. During the southern winter, from June to October, it is impossible to miss the enormous humpback whales (14 metres long on average) which come to mate and give birth in the warm waters of Reunion Island. Sperm whales, fin whales and Risso's dolphins are rarer and often not seen. Get your binoculars!
The Mafate cirque, a journey to the heart of ecotourism
Here, one doesn’t say hamlet but islet. A feeling of sailing out of time while hiking among the villages that cling to the plateaus of the Mafate cirque. Accessible only on foot (or by helicopter), each one is a micro-laboratory of sustainable development: use of clean energy, autonomous waste management, priority to local products and preservation of biodiversity. The best thing to do is to spend at least one night there to enjoy the grandiose landscapes and the unique feeling of being disconnected.
The lava tunnels of the Piton de La Fournaise: a journey to the centre of the Earth
What if we dived into the bowels of the earth? At 2,631 metres, the Piton de la Fournaise is one of the most fascinating and active volcanoes on the planet: it erupts every nine months on average! In addition to walking on its slopes, you can explore the incredible tunnels formed by lava flows, some of which have only recently been discovered. This is the case of the blue tunnel, whose formation dates back more than 20,000 years! By the light of headlamps, the rocks reveal their colours, blue of course, but also orange, red or grey, and their bizarre shapes. The highlight: hundreds of lava stalactites frozen by the cooling of the magma. To be explored with the family, children will love the treasure hunt atmosphere!
The primary forest of Belouve, kingdom of the tamarind of the Highlands
Perched on a plateau at an altitude of 1,300 metres in the east of the island, the Bélouve forest is home to more than a thousand species of plants, some of which are endemic: tree ferns, wild orchids and the tamarind of the Hauts region, whose wood is renowned for its cabinet making. Its tortured silhouette marks out this primary rainforest, bathed in mists and fogs that give it a supernatural appearance. Tuit-tuit or paille-en-queue, we learn to recognise the birds as we walk along the paths to the viewpoint of the Trou de Fer. At our feet, a 300-metre-deep chasm opens, where the water flows down in a thunder of cataracts. Vertiginous!
Accommodation: pure nature
A black basalt cliff beaten by the waves of the Indian Ocean: Welcome to an exceptional setting at Cana Suc! A stone's throw from the Piton de la Fournaise, this 2 hectare estate is a window on the island's luxuriant nature: the two rural gîtes and the guest room, which look like traditional Creole huts, are nestled in a green setting amidst coconut, mango and hibiscus trees. At Terre Rouge in Saint Joseph, three cedar and basalt stone bungalows share a large tropical garden for a 100% disconnected interlude. No TV, WiFi, air-conditioning, doors or windows: you live to the rhythm of nature in its purest form!
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