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Reunion Travel Guide

The Department of Réunion is a South African island, which sits in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar with a total area of 2,510 square kilometres. There are about 722,000 folk living around Reunion who are mainly of French, Malagasy, African, Pakistani and Chinese descent and Roman Catholic faith. The inhabitants speak French and to earn a crust make their money from rum, sugar, cigarettes, flower oil and handicrafts, trading with countries such as France, Comoros, Japan, Italy and Bahrain.

The island of Reunion was found in 1513, which became a French settlement by the 17th to 19th century. The area soon began receiving many other ethnicities including Malays, Africans, Chinese, and Malabar Indians, providing Reunion with a good ethnic mix of people. In 1869 though, the Suez Canal was opened, which took away a lot of the islands’ wealth, as the island was now not a stopover point, for the important East Indies trade route.

With hiking, mountain biking, canyoning, water sports and other adventurous pastimes, Reunion does its best to get the adrenalin pumping in each and every tourist! When it comes to hiking there are many one-day and multi-day treks to go on with the more rugged walks and volcano treks being on the islands of Mafate, Salazie and Cilaos. The islands’ terrain has also brought a lot of mountain bikers here with vélo tout terrain bikes available for hire. Getting down to the ocean, visitors will find an array of water sports to try out especially in the area of St-Gilles-les-Bains, where surfing, snorkelling and swimming are some of the more popular sports. Any thrill seekers though, should try out the exciting activity of canyoning, where visitors will be able to abseil down cliffs and rocky ravines into lagoons or water holes. After all the fun, travellers can get their breath back in the islands’ capital town of Saint-Denis, situated north of the island, the town is an area full of vibrancy, architecture and affluence. The towns Government Park is a good place to start, with St Denis’ Creole mansions, fine museums and a bustling outdoor market close by.

There are a couple of forms of public transport in Reunion, two of which are the public bus and Reunion bus service, the latter being yellow coaches, which are available throughout the urban areas of Reunion and have scheduled timetables and the former being lush Mercedes or Volvo-touring coaches, with fitted stereos! Taxis are also available and work in the same way as any other worldwide taxi service, by using a ‘hire on demand’ service. Car hire is another good and safe option, but visitors will need an international driving licence.

Entry into Reunion is attainable via flights from countries including the Seychelles, France, Comoros, Kenya, Mauritius and South Africa, with all other travellers needing to connect in Mauritius. Taxis and airport buses are always available to take the swarms of holidaymakers to the capital of St Denis, where if arriving in the evening, can boogie the night away! The weather is very warm all year round in Reunion, with the only times to avoid being the busy French school holidays from late July to early September and for hikers, the rainy season from October through March.

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