“It is in the wild places, where the edge of the earth meets the corners of the sky, the human spirit is fed.” – Art Wolfe
I often wonder if this quote by the intrepid Art Wolfe, conservation, and wildlife photographer, was inspired by Reunion Island.
Smaller than Gauteng, with under a million residents occupying the twenty four towns and handful of villages, it is hard to conceive the diversity of natural beauty, wide open spaces, and varied attractions on this dot of land in the Indian ocean.
In South Africa we have abundant natural beauty of every description, adventure is our middle name, and I think we invented cultural diversity, so it is not easy to wow a Saffa on vacation.
But wow me it did. Not once, but twice.
Here are seven reasons why Reunion Island and South Africans are a perfect match when it comes to memorable holidays.
1. We are nature lovers
In SA we love being outside and thrive on the freedom of space, huge skies and the beauty within our reserves and World Heritage Sites.
Forty percent of Reunion Island is a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site, and it has an active volcano. From 2000 meters above sea level or at the water’s edge, the sky is endless, merging with the ocean in a blue blur on the horizon. Forests, volcanic plains, alpine peaks, black and white sand beaches, lava fields, botanical gardens, rivers, waterfalls and a turquoise lagoon, absolute heaven for nature lovers.
Two hundred microclimates add variety, with hot sun, drizzle, wind, and cloud all easily experienced in one day.
Read more about the landscapes of Reunion here.
2. We are thrill seekers.
Reunion Island offers everything a hard core South African adrenalin junkie loves and then some. Hike around a volcano, slide down a waterfall, walk through the lava tunnels, rock climb the sheer slopes of Piton des Neiges, abseil down deep canyons. Take to the skies with a helicopter trip through narrow gorges, hang glide, para glide or sky dive. Reunion Island will definitely get the adrenalin pumping, guaranteed.
Read about Reunion Adventures by The Incidental Tourist here.
Read about an epic helicopter trip by Living it Up Cape Town here.
3. We are foodies of note.
Food is a big part of our culture and we are spoiled for choice with our varied produce, and creative cooks. We know our spices, and influences from all over the world have crept into our favourite recipes. Sustainable, organic, slow food and fine dining are all part of our foodie lingo.
The people of Reunion share our love of food. The island offers many favourites of ours, as well as an exciting array of new tastes. From exotic fruit, locally grown tea, unique and highly valued coffee, fruity Rhum, and the local staple, spicy caree, this island is foodie heaven. Explore the local markets and sign up for an authentic cooking experience, the tastiest way to learn about the culture of this Indian Island.
Read about my taste of Reunion here
Find out about island cuisine by Melanie van Zyl here.
4. We are actively out there.
Every weekend you will find South Africans walking in the cities and suburbs, hiking and trail running on the mountains or cycling the rural roads and scenic drives all over the country.
Reunion Island is a continuous work out for those who want it. Every road is scenic, and some of the hill climbs will challenge the most experienced rider. Hikers can choose from over 1000 kilometers of trails and runners can utilize many of these routes. For a gentler form of exercise, each town is slightly different from the next and there is street art, interesting architecture, coffee shops, bakeries, and views to delight the city stroller.
5. Beaches are in our blood.
We flock to the beaches all along our 2800 kilometers of coastline every holiday season. From the warm waters of Durban to the icy surf at Clifton we all have a little beach bum in us.
Well, Reunion is an Island, so it’s got beaches galore.
However you define the perfect beach, Reunion has one for you. White, sandy beaches just like at home, black sand beaches for something exotic, bleached volcanic rock beaches to remind you there’s a volcano, and dark pebbled beaches where you might need shoes when you swim. Water sports abound from cruises, fishing, scuba diving, glass bottomed boats, aqua hiking, canyoning, kayaking, river exploring and SUPPING. Take your pick.
6. We are curious culture chasers.
With so many cultures in our South African heritage, we like to find something totally different.
Reunion is actually a department of France, but nothing like the French Huguenots or Franschhoek at home. Malagasy slaves, Indian, Portuguese, and Chinese explorers, Arab and Malay traders and modern Creole- of European /African origin all have an imprint on the culture of the island.
From the traditions and language in the small towns and villages, to the street art, galleries, and museums in the larger towns and in St Denis, the capitol, there is much to learn and discover on the island.
Discover the capital with Cape Town Diva here.
7. We are spiritual souls
Many South Africans practice a formal religion, the predominant ones being Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. Others find peace and meaning in the mountains, doing meditation or yoga, walking a labyrinth or healing with crystals. Most of us revere nature and believe in some form of a higher power.
Reunion has a large Roman Catholic population and many beautiful churches. You will also find mosques, Hindu temples, and the odd synagogue on the island. The religions all respect one another, and many Reunionese practice a formal religion but also believe in the ancient folklore, and the island as a whole celebrates diverse religious festivals like Diwali and Chinese New Year.
The island is very spiritual, many believing in the unique energy of the volcano. A mindfulness meditation in this soulful landscape is a memorable experience, and there are many quiet places of outstanding natural beauty where the soul is filled with contentment.
Experience a vastly different meditation with My Lime Boots here.
Did I leave anything out? Let me know what else you would want on your dream holiday and I am sure we can find it for you on Reunion Island.
For more information on this adventurous island, visit http://bit.ly/LaReunionTheRoamingGiraffe
Getting there and general information.
Reunion is a four hour flight from Johannesburg operated by Air Austral
VISA FREE for South Africans
Reunion Island is a Department of France. The currency is the Euro and French is widely spoken.
La Reunion is situated between to Tropic of Capricorn and the Equator in the Indian Ocean.
Both my visits to Reunion Island were kindly hosted by the Reunion Tourism Board.
While this post is part of a paid campaign with Reunion Tourism, all opinions are my own.