La Réunion – green oasis in the Indian Ocean
12-Day Self-Drive Tour, Accommodated
From: St. Denis
To: St. Denis
Number of Participants: Individual
Tour Price: from 8,500 ZAR pp sharing
Single Supplement: from 6,200 ZAR
On this 12-day accommodated self-drive tour you will travel to the beautiful island of La Réunion. Outshone by the far more famous island Mauritius, the French-governed La Réunion is situated on a part of earth which until now has been spared a massive influx of tourists. With an area of just about 2510 km², the island is ideal for holiday-makers who don’t want to spend too much time in a car while on tour, but nevertheless want to explore every corner of the island. Because of its volcanic history, La Réunion is very fertile and mountainous, which is why it mainly attracts hiking enthusiasts, cyclists and nature lovers. Because of the affiliation to France, EU-citizens don’t require a visa. Furthermore the road conditions and the infrastructure on the island are excellent.
Day 1-4; La Réunion
- St. Denis: Relaxing, market
- Cascade Niagara: Picnic
- Cirque de la Salazie: Hike
- Piton de la Fournaise: Hike to the crater
Day 5-12; La Réunion
- Notre-Dame-des-Laves Church
- Rivière lange vin: Rock pools
- Cirque de Ciloas: Hiking
- L´Ermitage les Bains: Snorkeling, swimming, relaxing
- Piton Maidon: View
Day 1 Arrival in St. Denis
Distance approx. 20 km; driving time approx. 30 min.
After your arrival at Roland Garros Airport in La Réunion, you pick up your rental car and make your way to the city and your hotel, Juliette Dodu. The rest of the day is at leisure and you can either relax after the long flight or go for a stroll through St. Denis and visit the “Grand Marche”, a market where you can purchase local art, hand crafts and souvenirs. You will overnight at the hotel Juliette Dodu.
Day 2 St. Denis - St. Anne
Distance approx. 100 km; driving time approx. 2h
You drive via St. André and along the coast to St. Anne. On the way you stop at the Cascade Niagara, a 55m high waterfall with a picnic spot. Shortly after St. André you travel inland and follow the road to the Cirque de Salazie, one of La Réunion’s deep circular valleys. From Salazie as well as from Hell-Bourg, different hikes to waterfalls and viewing points can be done. Thereafter you return to St. André and continue to St. Anne, where you will spend the next three nights at the Diana Dea Lodge.
Day 3-4 St. Anne - Piton de la Fournaise - St. Anne
Distance day 3 or 4 approx. 150 km; driving time approx. 2-3h
During the next two days you have time for a day trip to Piton de la Fournaise, the active volcano on the island. You drive along a winding mountain road and the impressive Plaine des Sables to the Pas de Bellecombe, the starting point for your hike. At first you descend on narrow pathways and stairs to the first crater rim and then make your way on lava rocks and pebbles past a small crater in the direction of the main crater. From here you have a breath-taking view over La Réunion’s coast. You then drive back to St. Anne, where you arrive in the afternoon and have time to relax and rest after your hike. You spend another night at the Diana Dea Lodge.
Day 5 St. Anne - Cirque de Cilaos
Distance day 5 approx. 150 km; driving time approx. 2-3h
Today you travel along the east coast from St. Anne to St. Joseph. On the way you stop at the Notre-Dame-des-Laves. In 1977 a lava stream destroyed the entire village, sparing only the church. Since then the Notre-Dame-des-Laves is a popular pilgrim’s site on La Réunion. From here the journey takes you through small coastal villages to the “wild” south coast of the island. Shortly before reaching St. Joseph you turn inland and follow the course of the Rivière Langevin. Alongside the small road that takes you into the mountains, the river forms several small rock pools where you can go for a swim before you reach one of the highest waterfalls of the island, the Cascade du Trou Noir, about 6 km from the main road. Thereafter you return to the coast and drive via St. Pierre to the Cirque de Cilaos, where you will spend the next three nights at the hotel Le Vieux Cep.
Day 6-7 Cirque de Cilaos
The small village Cilaos at the foot of the Piton des Neiges, reminds one of a mountain village in the Alps and it serves as a perfect base for hikes into the surrounding area. For the more sportive we can recommend a hike to Piton des Neiges. The peak can only be reached in a 2-day hike with an overnight stay in a basic mountain hut, but there are many other hiking trails around Cilaos suitable to all levels of fitness. You spend another night at the hotel Le Vieux Cep.
Day 8 Cirque de Cilaos - L’Ermitage les Bains
Distance approx. 100 km; driving time approx. 1-2h
You make your way back to the coast and continue in the direction of St. Gilles les Bains. On the way you can stop at the beach of L’Etang-Salé les Bains. This section of the coast is best known for the dark colour of the lava-beach where the warm Indian Ocean invites you for a swim. You then continue to L’Ermitage les Bains via St. Leu, your last stop. You will spend four nights at hotel Le Nautile situated directly on the beach.
Day 9-11 L’Ermitage les Bains
Distance to Piton Maido approx. 50 km; driving time approx. 1h (per way)
The days at the L’Ermitage les Bains are spent walking on the beach, sun tanning, snorkelling on the coral reef and doing day trips to the beaches of the neighbouring villages. A visit to the main village St. Gilles les Bains is also recommended as there is a big variety of shops, coffee shops, restaurants and bars. Even though getting up early might seem hard while you are on holiday, try to be up before sunrise to drive to Piton Maidon. From there you have a breath-taking view on Cirque de Mafate, the third circular deep valley and the filming location of Jurassic Park. The sunrise over the valley makes this misty atmosphere an awesome opportunity for some great photos. Thereafter you return to the hotel for breakfast followed by another day at the beach. You spend another night at the hotel Le Nautile.
Day 12 L’Ermitage les Bains - St. Denis
Distance approx. 50 km; driving time approx. 1h
Today you drive back to St. Dennis and return your rental car at the airport. Thereafter you check in for your flight home, where you will arrive with good memories, tanned and relaxed.
- Self-drive tour according to the itinerary
- 11 nights accommodation in guesthouses, chalets, bungalows or lodges
as indicated in the itinerary
- All indicated meals
- Flights (international and domestic)
- Rental car (please contact us for a quote)
- Meals not indicated in the itinerary
- Beverages (alcohol and soft drinks)
- Possible toll fees
- Possible entrance fees
- Optional activities
- Visa, tips, personal expenses, travel insurance
How safe is a self drive tour in La Réunion?
- The island of La Réunion is a very safe travel destination making it possible for you to walk almost everywhere during day and night time. Nevertheless you shouldn’t lead anyone into temptation by leaving valuables in your car.
What is the infrastructure like (road conditions, shops, petrol stations)?
- As La Réunion is part of France, it generally has a very good infrastructure and with the exception of mountain roads which can be very narrow and steep, most of the other roads are tarred and well maintained.
- Petrol stations can be found alongside all major routes as well as in cities/villages.
- There are more than enough different and well-stocked shops available and many petrol stations also have a little convenience shop.
On which side of the road will I be driving?
- In La Réunion vehicles are left-hand drives hence driving is done on the right-hand side of the roads.
Do I need an international driver’s licence?
- According to the law, an EU driver’s licence or an international driver’s licence is required.
- As per the terms and conditions of the rental car companies, only a valid national driver’s licence and a credit card is required.
How will I be able to find my way around?
- Along with your travel documents you will receive a voucher that includes detailed directions and contact details for all the pre-booked accommodation.
- Most rental car companies provide road maps but as not all of them do, it is advisable to bring a good map with a map scale of at least 1:100 000 with you.
What meals are included and what food can be expected on tour?
- Meals are included as indicated in the itinerary.
- Breakfast is usually continental and consists of cereals, breads, cheese, cold meats, jam, juices, tea and coffee.
- Since most of the days are spent exploring, hiking or relaxing at the beach, no lunches have been included.
- Influenced by the French, African and Indian cuisine, La Réunion has a great choice of Creolean restaurants on offer and in bigger towns you will also find take-aways that serve sandwiches, burgers and local snacks. This allows you to make your own choices and to enjoy different dining experiences, which is why dinner has been excluded. Most restaurants offer an à la carte menu with different meat, poultry, fish, rice, pasta and vegetable dishes.
What about the money matter?
- La Réunions official currency is Euro. You can either exchange your own currency for Euro at one of the exchange bureaus at the airport or at a bank in town or you can go to an ATM and draw Euro at the current rate of exchange. Please note that you need a credit card (VISA, MasterCard, American Express, Diners Club) and your pin code to draw money. At some ATMs you can even draw money with a Maestro Card.
- Credit cards are also widely accepted but as there are still some small shops and petrol stations in smaller towns that do not accept credit cards, make sure you always have some cash on hand.
Do I need vaccinations for this self drive tour?
- Although La Réunion does not require proof of immunization against Tetanus, Diphtheria, Polio and Hepatitis A & B, we nevertheless recommend those vaccinations.