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Reunion Paradise

#jungle #volcano #beach #stars #waterfalls #aerial

Story by David Varga February 17th, 2016

In the beginning of 2016 I had a unique chance to participate in the Erasmus+ youth exchange program called Together 4 Our Environment (more info soon to be found here) that took place in an exotic location of Reunion island for 11 days.

This island is still governed by France and yet is located in the southern hemisphere, right next to Mauritius island and nearby Madagascar, in the Indian Ocean. It is one of the furthest regions of European Union in the world.

It is a bit popular among French tourists as the holiday resort in winter time but there is not many tourists from other countries I suppose. The beach side with the corral reef (that forms a natural protection from sharks, that use to attack people here every now and then) is not long enough and the infrastructure is also not good enough to adopt huge amount of tourists in my opinion.

However Reunion island is an amazing place for all kinds of adventurers, hikers, surfers and nature lovers. So for me it was the perfect opportunity to visit this remote and glorious place.

Even though we had to participate on the activities and workshops related to the project and didn’t have much time for travelling around, plus I actually had to work for my regular job back in Brno as well (I was on the “home-office“ there), we were lucky enough to spend the first half of the time in Reunion in the mountain/jungle area nearby the town called Cilaos and the other half right next to the beach in the little town called La Salines-Les-Bains.

This way we could experience both the nature (jungle, waterfalls and wonderful mountains) as well as the ocean (especially snorkeling in between the corrals and observing the ocean life under the surface felt like swimming inside the beautiful aquarium and was an amazing experience for me, a “first-time“ actually).

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The other unforgettable experiences from Reunion were hiking up to the summit of Piton des Neiges (highest peak of Reunion, 3079 m asl) and watching the sunrise from the top, then the amazingly clear “million star“ sky we could admire for hours up in the mountains and also swimming in the waterfall in the jungle.

Yet I was missing something. I knew there was so much more to see and try in Reunion and so little time was left. So I decided to see it all, from the air. I became sort of addicted on the aerial photography after trying it out in Iceland and that’s why I wanted to do the same here and at least see all of the Reunion gems from above. Unfortunately it did not really go as planned and expected and I only managed to get the flight from 8 am (the recommended time to get a flight is 6:30 or 7 am), which is usually the time when the weather in the mountains starts to worsen (it was rain period here).

I used the Felix ULM company that is based in Saint Paul and I can recommend it. We managed to fly above Mafate, Le Maido, Cilaos and then above some lagoons and corral reefs at the shore but due to the starting rain we couldn’t fly the Trou de Fer - supposingly the most difficult canyon to climb in the world - which is also very beautiful and has wonderful high waterfalls falling down from it.

Nevertheless it was truly breathtaking, with some added adrenaline injections when we experienced pretty big turbulences for few times. If only the sunlight had found its way through the clouds and enlightened the steep cliffs and deep canyons.

Well, at least I have a reason to come back one day…

You can check the photos from some of the mentioned sceneries below.

Reunion Island