Volcanic Réunion & Mauritius
Traverse two breathtaking and unspoilt Indian Ocean islands
The tiny jewel-like island of Réunion is sometimes overlooked in favour of its better-known neighbour Mauritius. However, this beautiful island with its stunning beaches, forested inlands and rugged volcanic skyline is not to be missed. Thanks to this, mass-tourism has largely passed by the island, meaning that visitors can explore on their own terms, uncovering little-seen sights and enjoying unique experiences.
The natural landscapes of the island are one of the major draws. As you travel along the narrow, meandering roads that wind round the mountainous island, you will catch glimpses of fields of brightly-coloured wildflowers, forests of ancient, curving trees, craggy rockfaces climbing high above the roads and waterfalls thundering down the mountainside in insistent foamy spouts. These captivating vistas change moment to moment, creating endless places of interest as you travel around the island.
There are two major mountain ranges in Réunion, which form a rocky backbone to this precipitous island. A highlight for many tourists is the active volcano Piton de la Fournaise, which regularly erupts, sending up clouds of steam and wide flows of lava across the countryside. The Cirque de Cilaos mountain region is also an awe-inspiring sight. With its snaggle-toothed mountains patchily covered in deep green forests that are incapable of completely hiding the raw majesty of the rocks beneath. Swirling mists sometimes shroud the mountains, affording rare glimpses of the remote villages that pepper its sides.
What makes this island truly unique is that it is still a French department, meaning that it is part of the European Union. Here, travellers can expect to enjoy a high level of good hygiene practices and a sophisticated infrastructure. The island also uses the Euro, which feels incongruous in the lush, tropical surroundings.
Explore the capital of Saint-Denis to really experience how different religions and cultures have folded together in this truly multicultural city. Walking along one of the wide-open streets you might see a Buddhist pagoda, a mosque, a Hindu temple and a Cathedral all within a couple of blocks.
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