Réunion is an earthly paradise for nature-lovers, who are able to visit the island while endeavouring to protect the extraordinary environment and its rugged terrain, varied landscapes and contrasting microclimates. Ecotourism here has now gained international consecration since the island has been named as one of the 30 or so world biodiversity hotspots. In addition, Unesco listed the island's pitons, cirques and remparts as a World Heritage Site in 2010. These extraordinary sites are protected by the Réunion National Park, which accounts for 40% of the island's surface area! At Cirque de Mafate, which is only accessible on foot, you will be completely immersed in the lush vegetation, isolated hamlets, unforgettable vistas ... and much more. Piton de La Fournaise is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and its peak reveals a setting to match any lunar landscape !
The awe-inspiring fauna and flora
You really must set off and discover the heart of Réunion on one of its hiking trails, which cover more than 900 kilometres in all. Amateur or more experienced walkers have a choice of paths and will be plunged into a wild landscape, inhabited by some unique animal species. Take, for example, the cuckooshrike, an endemic bird that only lives in the Nature Reserve at Roche Ecrite, overlooking the cirque de Mafate. It is not always easy to catch a glimpse of Réunion's awe-inspiring fauna and flora, which is why it is worth going out with a specialised ornithological or botanical guide.
The ocean beds are also full of surprises. The 22km translucent lagoon bordering the west coast harbours a kaleidoscope of colours with its fish, corals, turtles, shellfish and crustaceans… It is a real-life aquarium, especially with the Réunion Marine Nature Reserve which stretches over 40km of the coastline, from Cap La Houssaye to Saint-Paul, Roche aux Oiseaux and Étang-Salé. More than 3,500 species have been listed in this protected area. From July to October, you can even spot humpback whales off the coast.
It's quite a festival !