La Reunion Le La: A whirlwind trip!

2014-07-08 09:25

If you have been following the #GoToReunion adventure, then you are well aware we were part of a posse of top bloggers and media that got to experience the island at the end of June.

For a week we lived like locals, taking in Reunion's extreme diversity and easy lifestyle.

The epic blogger trip also coincided with the launch of a new Reunion Island blog – geared towards the interests of local South Africans.

The itinerary was intense, as we tried to experience as much of the island in a rather short space of time.

One of our Reunion Island Tourisme hosts, Stephane Bonneau did in fact tell me that anybody visiting the island needs to spend a week at the very least in order to feel the proper effect of its energy on your body, mind and spirit. 

And I have to agree.

If anything, you'll come away feeling energised. There is something to be said for walking on, touching, swimming in, breathing in elements of the ancient foundations of the planet that have been shovelled up through the island's volcano - which certainly is the IT factor - as you infuse its fiery energy into your own. 

Here are some of the highlights of what we got up to:

Priscila Reis Magalhaes, the blogger who left Brazil during the world cup to check out the island (it all makes sense if you consider that she gave up a career as a lawyer to be a travel blogger, no!?) simply loved her 'private' rock pool swim at Bassin la Paix in Saint Benoit.

“It connected me to nature and I felt so safe.”  

The rest of us got our butts whipped (me quite literally) while Canyoning through Bassin la Paix with - but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Getaway travel writer Kati Auld suggests 10 days is a bit better than a week – allowing for a sprinkling of more beach time, which we literally kept down to a single day. Next time!

But the 5km hike up to the Cirque de Mafate put the beautiful landscapes of the collapsed volcano shield of the Piton des Neiges front and centre for Auld.

This village, first settled in the 19th century by the island's maroon slaves, has no road access and the some 50 existing residents have to either hike supplies up and down or use the available helicopter service –  started by the entrepreneurial community.

Yann Macherez, the talented photographer behind Ubuntu Photography and a Reunion local especially enjoyed the Mafate hike, confirming its must-do status. (It was Yann's first time back home in six years and it was fantastic to 're'-experience the island through his eyes)

“I love hiking and it took me into the centre of the island and allowed me to connect with the locals. I also enjoyed the dolphins because they were right below me and it was not like a normal boat experience.”

Top SA blogger Meruschka Govender, better known as MzansiGirl, said taking the helicopter back down from Cirque de Mafate was a definite trip highlight (after a 5km hike and an authentic Kreole lunch some of us certainly needed it).

“I could hear the theme song to Air Wolf in my head and it felt like being a kid again."

And MzansiGirl's find of the island? "Tamarind ice cream!“

The team of bloggers were also joined by Matty Brown, freelance director and cinematographer who captured all the island adventuring (keep an eye on Matty's Vimeo profile for the complete and edited version).

The moment Matty spotted the opening to lava tube, draped in ferns it felt like the opening to another world (we all went caving inside a lava tube formed by the 2004 eruption of Piton de la Fournaise. Extreme!).

Top tip from Matty? Be aware of the time difference if you're travelling from the US and how it will affect you.

Blogger Matthew Karsten, known as the Expert Vagabond who is addicted to adventure travel and photography couldn’t get enough of the Bassin la mer in Saint Benoit as he opted to Kayak down while the rest of us canyonned.

“I've always seen people going over these waterfalls and this was something I had to try. It was a great experience and the guys really knew what they were doing. “

SA blogger Natalie Roos also couldn’t get enough of the views she experienced while paragliding and the  Mafate hike is pretty high on her must-do list “simply because it is such a unique place”.

Top tip from Natalie? "Don't forget your motion sickness tablets"

But for Velvet Escape luxury travel blog founder Keith Jenkins the drive up to Piton de la Fournaise, experiencing the geology of the island up close for the first time and seeing the changes in the vegetation is probably the best introduction to what the island is about.

Have any questions about Reunion? Let us know at Also, come join our travel community! Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, hang out with us on Google+, snap away on Instagram and share your inspiration on Pinterest.

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