An exploration of the Sister Islands
« Napping and tanning under a filao tree, trekking, sightseeing or bike riding, tasting a variety of tropical fruits, local delicacies, curries or rhum arrangé… Mauritius promises to be nothing short of wonderful. » - Cathy, Islandian Expert
The sister islands, Reunion and Mauritius, are a mere 30 minutes away from each other by plane. In fact, on a cloudless day in Mauritius, one can glimpse the coastline of Reunion in the distance. Yet, these two islands are fundamentally different in their topography, culture, and ways of living. The trip focuses on the history and culture of these faraway places, the complexity of the flavours in your plate, and Nature - hikes through dense jungle, dips in the warm blue sea and bicycle rides. You will however quickly adjust to the slow rhythm of island-time… from which it is hard to readjust.
The price includes:
- Greetings and assistance at destination
- 6 days car rental
- 5 nights at Blue Margouillat in Standard Room, on Bed & Breakfast basis
- Helicopter tour over the island
- Exploration of lava tunnels with a qualified instructor
- Transfer from Mauritius airport (SSR) to Shanti Mauritius by private car
- 4-nights at the Shanti Mauritius in JS Ocean View room and on half board basis
- Visit in the South including a stopover in Trou aux Cerfs, in Chamarel for a lunch break and a visit to the “Rhumerie”. A photo safari at Frédérica is also expected.
- Transfer to and from the Place du Moulin in Bel Ombre
- Discovery of the South in electrobike
- Transfer from Shanti Maurice to SSR airport
The price does not include:
- Visit to the Stella Matutina Museum
- Guided visit to the botanical garden of St Leu at Mascarin
- Meals and drinks not mentioned as included.
- Cancellation / multi-risk insurance
- Excursions and activities not mentioned as included
- Personal expenses
Upon your arrival at the Roland Garros airport in Saint Denis, the capital of Reunion Island, you may pick up the keys to your rental car and drive to the Blue Margouillat, a boutique hotel in Saint Leu, a mecca for culture buffs. The intimate colonial style hotel with its twelve seaview rooms and two suites looks over the bay of Saint Leu. On your first night in Reunion, dine at the restaurant L’Éveil des Sens, which serves haute cuisine prepared by the brilliant Chef Marc Chappot. The wine list is simply fabulous.
Day 2Rise early for a hearty breakfast before hopping into a helicopter, undoubtedly the best way to observe the island’s dramatic topography. Fly over the three cirques (massive natural amphitheatres,) remparts (steep rock walls,) the dormant Piton des Neiges volcano and the active Piton de la Fournaise. Head South to the Sud Sauvage (the savage south) region, where cliffs shaped by the cooling of hot molten rock drop into the open sea. For lunch you may try La Marmite du Pêcheur where local favorites are served on the traditional banana leaves (we recommend the cari porc palmist, a pork curry with heart of palm). After lunch explore the lava tunnels with a specialist to learn about stalactites and stalagmites.
Day 3Wake up early to hike up the Piton de la Fournaise, following the markings (You will need a good pair of hiking boots). Before you head off on one of the most beautiful hikes, be sure to sample the housemade jams (litchi, papaya, cherry guava, tamarind). The lunar landscape is otherworldly. It takes about three hours to reach the crater (pay careful attention to the different lava). For lunch we suggest Chez Guilaine in Plaine des Cafres. This may be a good time to sample local delicacies such as boucané ti jaque, baba figue, rougail morue, rougail z’andouille, cari pat’cochon, gâteau patate-chouchou to name just a few. After lunch, visit the Cité du Volcan, 6,000m2 of educational and recreational activities around the volcano, one of the most active volcanoes in the world.
Day 4After breakfast head to Sainte Rose to discover the Notre Dame des Laves church where a miracle is said to have occurred. In 1997, lava flowed, burning everything, but somehow miraculously encircled the church without touching it. Shortly after, the church was christened Notre Dame des Laves. For lunch you may try Ferme Auberge d’Eva Annibal that serves a delicious canard à la vanille (duck with vanilla) and housemade rhum arrangé, a rum in which fruits and spices have macerated. On your drive back to the hotel, take the coastal road (the viewpoints are incredible).
Day 5Saint Leu has several great museums such as Stella Matutina, set in an old sugarcane factory. In 2011, the museum was rehabilitated––visitors can learn about the history of Bourbon island and its cane industry, which highlights the cultural and economic particularities of the island. After head to Les Colimaçons where there is a gorgeous botanic garden. The estate, which belongs to the De Chateauvieux family is a great way to learn about the flora of the volcanic island (the soil is particularly rich in minerals). For lunch, sample a variety of curries at La Marmite à L’Hermitage. After lunch, doze off in the shade of a filao tree on Hermitage beach.
Day 6Departure for Mauritius, Reunion’s sister island––a short 30-minute flight. Upon your arrival at SSR International Airport, you will be greeted then taken to the Shanti, the Sanskrit for peace, bliss, which is certainly what the resort exudes. Tucked away on a deserted beach of the south, between the mountains, sugarcane fields and the sea, the Shanti Maurice is a sanctuary where habitués return time and again for the world-class spa, health-conscious cuisine, and warm staff. Your stay in this earthly paradise promises to be nothing short of wonderful.
The southern coast is a wilder region of the island and has splendid deserted beaches and jungle-like forests. After a healthy breakfast (the resort is famed for its focus on wellness) explore the region with a chauffeur. Drive toward the centre of the island, to Curepipe, where you may stand at the edge of the inactive Trou-aux-Cerfs volcano and glimpse the surrounding mountain range and the city below. Lunch in Chamarel, on the west coast, where luxuriant vegetation borders sandy beaches, and visit the Rhumerie, where you will learn how to make rum, Mauritian-style. In the afternoon, go to the Heritage Nature Reserve in Bel Ombre––hundreds of acres of nature with deer, birds and other creatures–– for a photo safari. Go off the beaten track with a guide to snap some shots of endemic, rare species and panoramas of the wild southwest coast.
Day 8After yesterday’s treks and sightseeing, relax at your hotel. If basking in the sun isn’t your thing, sign up for a golf lesson at the spectacular championship Heritage Golf Club. While the southern region’s natural beauty offers plenty to see, the high point of your stay is inevitably Nira Spa, a 7 000 square-meters haven where you may cultivate peace, balance and beauty. Its signature wellness program encompasses Yoga, Ayurveda and a detox cuisine. Surrender to total relaxation at the Shanti; you will leave tanned and rested.
Day 9After a lavish breakfast buffet, transfer to La Place du Moulin in Bel Ombre, about ten minutes from your hotel. Hop on the electrobike (a bicycle with an electric-powered piece that enables you to pedal with ease) and follow your guide. The 6-hour bike ride will take you through an authentic Mauritius, through tiny pastel-coloured villages and sugarcane fields, through Baie de Jakotet, Rivière des Galets, Grande Rivière Sud-Est, Jardin Telfair, Gris Gris, Roche qui pleure, St Félix and Riambel. There is a lunch stop at Madame Mala’s, an inhabitant of the vicinity.
Day 10It is your last day on the island. If you’ve ever dreamed of galloping on a horse on a beach, now may be your chance. Or you may check into the fabulous spa before you hop back on that airplane.