Senior Travel to Reunion

May 27th, 2011 | By James E Becker | Category: Senior Travel
Small world that it is, I was giving a tour at a site where I work and I detected an accent in a family that was there.  When I learned that they were from Réunion, I started speaking French with them.  Smaller world even yet… the daughter lived in Paris about three blocks from where I spent a year when I was a student at the Sorbonne working on an MA in French Culture and Civilization.  I would place a bet with many seniors, that they, like my wife, don’t have the foggiest idea where this small, French island is located.  I’ll give you a hint here.  Reunion (French: Réunion) is a French overseas territory located in the midst of the Indian Ocean, east of the island of Madagascar.  Check out this five-minute enticing fly-over of the island with dozens of waterfalls and volcanic structures similar to Kauai.

This wildly beautiful and rugged volcanic island (with a very active volcano), was uninhabited when discovered by the Portuguese in the early 16th century. In 1643 it was claimed by the French. They named it Bourbon and established their first colony there in 1662. In the years that followed, slaves from Africa were imported to work the sugar plantations.  The island was renamed Reunion in 1793, and it remained a French colony, except for a brief British occupation from 1810 to 1815. 
A meeting of six elements in their extraordinary beauty, La Réunion marries water and fire, mountains and the sea, forest and sky.  With its 2,500 square km, La Réunion has much to offer  as a visitor site.  A hiking destination par excellence, this mountain in the ocean offers unique walks with plunging views in the vertical country side that take the breath away. 
It is a beautiful place.  La Réunion is a land inhabited by many races and is a vibrant cultural crossroads.  A land of contrasts, La Réunion is exceptional: an island where the inhabitants, originating from three continents, have often mixed their races and have known how to make their rites and beliefs coexist harmoniously.  Lagoons, high seas, mountains, and volcanoes delight nature lovers and leisure enthusiasts.   An island of true contrasts, it is unknown to many of the world’s travelers. That’s unfortunate! This unique island in the middle of the Indian Ocean is simply one of the most intriguing spots on earth.
Not as well-known as nearby Mauritius or the not-so-far-away British Seychelles (where Will and Kate honeymooned), little Reunion seems but a speck in the vast ocean, dwarfed by Madagascar located 500 miles to the west.  The French know the island well but only the very well-traveled have ever stepped foot on Reunion’s varied and enticing terrain.
As always, consider a cheap flight to a direct gateway, for example Paris. It can often cost less than a connecting flight through to Reunion.   An adventure to a small island in the middle of the Indian Ocean might sound like a totally unreasonable thought.  But with a few tips and planning suggestions,  your trip to Reunion Island could easily result in a hassle-free, thoroughly enjoyable holiday.
Remember to pack a light jacket and rainwear in your suitcase and take comfortable walking or hiking shoes. Mosquitoes can be a problem, so clothes that cover your limbs, especially at night, are recommended and pick up a few simple phrases in French that will make your visit more enjoyable.  jeb

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