Reunion school geography tour
Reunion is a dramatic, mountainous paradise created & shaped by volcanoes. Our Reunion school geography tour explores this paradise.
Reunion school geography tour
Day to day itinerary:
Day 1 – Welcome to Reunion Island & hotel transfer
Welcome at the airport as well as Hotel transfer. Dinner and overnight at the Récif*** or similar.
Day 2 – Option – Trekking on the Volcano
The Piton de la Fournaise. In this essentially mineral world, you will walk on a special type of lava called “in draperies” or “in graton”. You’ll reach the rim of the crater “Dolomieu”, real heart of the volcanic activity of the Piton de la Fournaise. The only plants that survive are few “bruyères” with yellow flowers and lichens. In good weather, the smell of sulphur reinforces the mineral atmosphere. Surprising as well as spectacular lunar landscape. Picnic provided on site.
- Average level. About 5h00, elevation gain 531 m, distance: 13 km
- Transfer from Saint-Gilles 2h00 ride to get to the starting point.
Day 3 – Wild South
Departure in direction of Saint-Pierre, where the leeward coast becomes the windward coast and takes on other colours as well as a very special animated atmosphere. You follow the road to “Grand Anse” creek, with its beach bordered with coconut palms, a real heaven of peace. Every weekend, the brand newly married couple investigate the place for the pictures. The many lookout points afford the enjoyment of discovering this charming part of the island: Manapany and “Cap Méchant”: there the ocean crashes in impressive waves against the jagged black lava cliffs.
A little bit farther, crossing the bottom part of the coloured wood forest, you discover, at the foot of the volcano, the recent lava flows. A total landscape breaking up with the “Great burnt land”: actually, the tropical exuberance makes way for a much more mineral environment. Lots of those rivers of lava increased the island over the ocean of tens hectares! The whole region has a strange atmosphere to it, due perhaps to the fact that no dwelling can be seen for about thirty kilometres.
In Sainte-Rose zone, you stop at “Anse des Cascades” (waterfall cove), with its tiny fishing-boats landing sites and at Piton Sainte-Rose, where the church “Notre Dame des Laves” has been miraculously frozen around by the 1977’ lava river without being damaged. But more than 50 houses has been destroyed! Since then, this place is a famous pilgrimage spot.
On the way back, and after a Creole lunch in the surroundings of Saint-Philippe, you visit a wonderful and also wild botanical garden: “Le Jardin des parfums et des épices” (Spice and fragrance garden). You’ll explore hundreds of species of native exotic plants including many medicinal, ornamental as well as fruit spices, some of which being a century old. A guide with a perfect knowledge of the garden and also of its history will take you round the place and also initiate you to the manual pollination of the vanilla flower (October to January). Return to your hotel around 5.30pm. Dinner and overnight at the Récif*** or similar
Day 3 – Option – Lava’s Tunnel – Journey to the Center of the Earth!
Be ready for an unforgettable journey into the centre of the earth. A guide will lead you through a lunar world to discover the intricacies of lava carved by recent eruptions. The Piton de la Fournaise welcomes you to his palace made out of basalt for an unusual experience. After setting up the lighting for cavers (acetylene) and the front light that are provided, you’ll be able to enjoy an overview of the various underpasses. First you’ll go through a 10 minute walk on a square surface of grey basalt that will lead you to the conduit.
Then you’ll get closer inside the volcano to see beautiful formations made out of lava that have been cooled at the end of eruptive phase. When the molten lava goes through the landscape and especially trees, it creates slaloms between natural pillars. Thus, you can see magnificent “Bulbeuses” stalagmites as well as negative trunks carved into the wall of this metal and frozen world. Here and there, some roots are making their way through the mineral galleries reminding us that nature always takes over.
Return around 12:30. Opportunity to picnic on site. Discovering the lower part in 1/2 day. You’ll discover the lower part of the tunnel of the 2004 lava flow with a monitor (Certification of State – caving)
- Route of 500 meters long underground
- Time : about 2h
- Min : 8 people / Max: 60 people
- Note: For groups above 20 people: the “discovery” tour is a mix with hiking allowing a better management of everyone.
This activity is more fun, friendly and suitable for all than really sporting. A qualified instructor will lead you throughout the duration of the visit. One will require a change of clothes. Bring thin sports clothes to protect you from corrosive basalt, sports shoes, a pair of gloves as well as a pair of knee pads, small backpack with at least 1 litre of water, granola bars, dried fruit, rain jacket and extra clothes. Good physical condition required. Against medical indication: this activity is not recommended for people with asthma, heart disease but also pregnant women as well as claustrophobic people. Kids : at least 12 years recommended.
Day 4 – Salazie Cirque
Departure to Saint-Suzanne. Thereafter, you discover the real face of the East coast: it’s an intensive farming of sugar cane district, its population in majority of Indian Tamil origin stems from thousands of volunteers, “imported” for harvest after the Abolition of Slavery in 1848.
One of the evocative signs of this Tamil culture is the number of the colourful temples built here and there. You can admire the outside architecture of the “Temple du Petit Bazar” in Saint-André. You also discover the fantastic story of the famous “Bourbon Vanilla” by visiting a vanilla plantation with a meeting with the family planter. This orchid grows from St-André to Sainte-Rose.
Then, you’ll enter in the largest, the greenest and the wettest cirque of the three (owing to its windward position). Salazie, a refuge of fugitive slaves or “runaways” was late colonised. Inviolate for a long time, this cirque is accessible by the only hemmed road running along Rivière du Mât”.
You find very quickly an imposing garden of verdure and cascades, in particular the “Voile de la Mariée” (wedding veil). Its charm derives from the existing harmony between its waters flowing down a hundred cascades, its omnipresent lush vegetation, its imposing relief made softer by all the greenery, and the man-made buildings that blend in with the landscape. Everything grows there, but you’ll notice in particular banana trees, bamboos and various vegetables cultivation like watercress, and the most well known is “chouchou”, imported from Mexico in 1840.
Arrival to Hell-Bourg: the village was awarded in 1998 the title for one of the most beautiful village of France for the quality and genuine character of the place. It has been built up around hydropathical sources, which brought to this cirque its fame until its permanent closure due to mass fallen rocks in 1848. After a Creole lunch, you may visit this village of ancient times, real museum of Creole architecture and the “Folio House” with its impressive garden. Dinner and overnight at the Récif*** or similar
Day 5 – Cilaos Cirque
Road to Saint-Louis. The pretty village of La Rivière Saint-Louis will be the last one before entering Cilaos Cirque. The pleasure starts with the road that plunges onto the bottom of Saint-Etienne’ river. This very picturesque road built in 1932, leads you to the beautiful cirque of Cilaos, a geological curiosity. Cilaos is the most southerly and driest cirque of the three. The sky is more frequently clear there and its slopes have fewer waterfalls. In 1845, a path with difficult access was opened to pedestrians and oxes. In 1896, the thermal baths set up and, as far as a suitable road for vehicles was built, the journey to Cilaos was achieved on a “sedan chair” but Cilaos village is at 1200m!
The ascent by the “400 bends road” offers exceptional lookout points with breathtaking views of the several hamlets.
When you finally reach the village which has the highest summits (the majestic Piton des Neiges 3070m, Grand Bénare 2896m, Trois Salazes 2121m), you’ll feel as if you were exploring a village of yore; with its old houses surrounded by flowery yards and gardens which in the hot season, look like a colourful artist palette: jacarandas with mauve shadings, dahlias, azaleas, roses, hydrangeas, Cilaos is also famous for its hydropathy establishment, its
magnificent embroidery, its wine (the only one produced in Reunion) and its lentils.
Various walks invite you to go in search of this paradise. You reach the best view on the cirque by taking a forest path to “La Roche Merveilleuse” (or by car or by bus). From up there, you overlook the whole cirque, the village, the paths, as well as the forests… It is also great to discover the thermal baths, both the old vestiges dating back to the 19th century to which you can accede via a picturesque road and the new facilities for spas, health and fitness. Authentic Creole lunch. Dinner and overnight at Le Récif*** or similar
Day 5 – Option – Canyoning at Cilaos
Supervised by instructors (one for 15 participants), Group will go by bus to the canyons Gobert and / or Mini Yellow
Flower for Rappelling, small steps, and swimming. A safe combination of emotions and intense pleasures. Supervision is provided by qualified instructors (one per 12 participants). Around noon, the group will share their impressions over a meal (Creole lunch or restaurant depending on the weather). At the end of the day, you will go back to the west coast by bus and arrive at your hotel in the late afternoon.
This program allows you to discover several means of transport: Hiking, rappelling, driving on the roads of
Cilaos. The hike is for everyone with a relatively low altitude. Initiation sites are accessible to all; they are fun
and not sporting. Provide walking shoes, warm clothes, water, hat, sunscreen, small backpack, as well as protection against the rain. Maximum 60 people. The rent of a safety equipment and wetsuit, the lunch with 2 appetisers, 2 choices of cari, dessert as well as coffee will be provided and supervised by professionals (1 for max 10 people).
Day 6 – Leisure day & departure
Optional Helicopter flight. Depending of the flight, airport transfer as well as departure.