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More About Reunion
Imagine brilliantly bright, turquoise waters lapping on a shore of pristine white, powder-like sand. Reunion tours explore a ruggedly beautiful island of contrasts, a place with wild and dramatic landscapes. Beyond the idyllic postcard perfect locations, a Reunion tour provides the opportunity to explore the unique characteristics of this far flung island within the Indian Ocean.
Before the arrival of the Portuguese in the early sixteenth century, there is little to Reunion's recorded history. The first European discovery of the area was made around 1507 by Portuguese explorers, though it is possible that Swahili or Malay sailors may have visited the island earlier.
Bounded by Asia to the north, Africa to the west, Australia to the east, and sandwiched between Mauritius and Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, Reunion has a resolutely French identity, but remains a melting pot of cultures. A century after the Portuguese had made landfall, the French began their take over of the island. First as a destination for convicts, next as a colony of settlers for the French East India Trading Company. It was during the French colonization that peoples from Africa, China, and India were brought to Reunion and helped shape the demographics that remain today.
Many of the islands within the Indian Ocean have a relaxed and slow paced lifestyle, Reunion is no different. Perhaps it is the isolation of island living, or perhaps it is that connection to nature that shape this island's mentality. Reunion tours showcase a wild and rugged landscape with plenty of opportunity for natural explorations.
Reunion tours offer mountain scenery and walking trails amongst one of the world's most active volcanoes, and the highest mountain in the Indian Ocean. Three cirques (steep bowl-shaped amphitheatres) dominate the topography, and Reunion is similar to the island of Hawaii in that both are located above hotspots in the Earth's crust. Piton de la Fournaise, one of the most active volcanoes in the world, has a walking path along the rim to better appreciate the 530,000 year old hot spot volcano.
At Piton Maido, with its incredible viewpoint looking down on the cirque Mafate, one can witness thousands of hectares of almost untouched wilderness. The entire cirque counts only 700 citizens in 15 small villages and has a magnificent view of the highest mountain in the Indian Ocean: the Piton des Neiges or the "Peak of the Snows." Further down the coastal road one finds Cirque de Cilaos located in the geographic heart of the island. Cilaos is the largest of the 3 cirques and the name Cilaos comes from the Malagasy word, Tsilaosa, which means 'the place one never leaves'.
However, nature enthusiasts will most likely enjoy Reunion's 'Wild South' the most. Full of lush vegetation, dark green forests contrasting with the azure blue of the ocean, this is a region where the unhurried way of life is complemented by the splendid scenery of volcanic slopes, stunning beaches, and country roads.
For a little natural adventure in an idyllic setting off the beaten path, then surely there is no better destination than Reunion.