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Reunion

Reunion

Being only 1.6 times as big as London, Reunion is a tiny island. However, it does not feel this way when you’re there, as it is home to such a wild array of landscapes and climates. The Indian Ocean gave birth to Reunion around 3 million years ago, when the Piton des Neiges volcano (now the highest point in the Indian Ocean) erupted out of the water around 200km from Mauritius and 600km east of Madagascar. The island gradually grew in size, eruption after eruption, aided by the appearance of a second volcano, the Piton de la Fournaise. The island therefore is entirely composed of volcanic rock; whilst the North of the island is gradually eroding (the Piton des Neiges is now extinct), the South continues to grow as the Piton de la Fournaise is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Indeed, at the time of writing this (July 2018) it is erupting!

The Piton des Neiges’ gradual collapse has made way for three magnificent cirques, each with their own individual character: Cilaos, Salazie, and Mafate. The latter can only be accessed by foot or by helicopter; no road can cross its jagged terrain. These remote places were once places of refuge for escaped slaves or marrons during the colonial period. The day that slavery was abolished is now celebrated as a national holiday, locally known as the fête caf. Creole culture is indulged in with local music, food, and a many a typical Reunionais picnic!

Creole culture is an integral part of Reunion daily life, and gives it a distinctly difference feel from its Motherland, France. The island is truly a melting-pot of cultures. Although slaves were predominantly Madagascan/East African, when slavery was abolished a host of indentured workers were brought in. The five main ethnicities of the island are therefore now Madagascan, African, Indian, Chinese, and European. These are represented on the Reunion flag by five yellow sunbeams, with the red triangle representing the volcano and the blue representing the ocean. This mixing of peoples and cultures has led not only to a unique creole language, but also to a rich creole culture, including architecture, food, music and dress. All this adds up to the wonderful, relaxed paradise island life that makes Reunion what it is.

If all this sounds exciting to you, then take a look at our Three Cirques Trek and discover the many natural wonders of Reunion Island.

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