Réunion, December 2019 − Travels − Captain Tom

Réunion, December 2019

We seek for some warm sun as usual over the Christmas holidays. This time we choose Réunion, a little French island in the Indian ocean about 600 miles east of Madagascar.

Réunion is a volcanic island and there are three old craters and an additional very active volcano erupting several times a year. And another remarkable point: The East of the island where the active volcano is located is one of the most rain-laden places on earth.

The hotel is on the Western side of the island. There it is almost dry and sunny.

1 The Journey

The journey is quite exhausting. First you go to Paris and then have a more than 11 hours domestic flight directly to Réunion.

Airport Paris Charles de Gaulle
The airport is quite big
A Boeing 777-300ER of Air Austral brings us to Réunion
Departure in Paris
Land ahoy
Saint-Denise, capital city of Réunion
Arrived
2 The Hotel

The Hotel Le Recife is located at the Western shore and it is warm and sunny most of the time.

Views of the resort
View from my room
Breakfast area
Air vehicles passing by
Even when raining it is quite warm
The beach
Lifeguards
Warning sign in the water
The hotel from above
Sunset
Coast line at the hotel
Coast line at the hotel
For the holidays there are exhaustive dinners with many courses
Christmas Eve
Cocktails to start New Year's Eve
3 Animals

There are nice animals around

Big sassy birds
The little one seems to have dropped from the nest to early
Lizzard with long tail
Lizzard
Lizzard
Lizzards
Bird with very long tail
Red bird
Even inspects our breakfast
4 Gyrocopter flight

I fly with a gyrocopter with Zen Altitude ULM in Saint Piere (Pierrefond). The gyrocopter is an ELA 07 Cougar. Quite exciting. I have not done it before. We fly along the coast line as a circle around the volcano does not work due to the weather conditions.

Preparations
I am ready
Take off
The airport
Along the coast line
Volcanic shore
Paragliders at Saint-Leu
They get quite close to us
The shore
Stream mouth
Our hotel
Les Trois-Bassins
Gorge
Sugar cane plant
We fly in quite from the side
Dad is waiting
5 Mountain tour

After the gyrocopter flight we go with the rental car into the mountains. I have selected two points where we have a view into the craters of the old volcanos.

Fenêtre des Makes allows for a view into the crater Cirque de Cilaos
Mountain roads
Cirque de Cilaos
Cirque de Cilaos
Cap Noir allows for a view 3000 ft down into Cirque de Mafate
Cirque de Mafate is like Grand Canyon in green
Cap Noir
Cap Noir
Cap Noir
Cap Noir
Cap Noir
Cap Noir
Cirque de Mafate
6 Volcano tour

We want to go to the active volcano Piton de la Fournaise. The volcano is located on the Eastern coast and it is quite rainy there. An in almost 9000 ft of elevation it will get cold too.

The first attempt fails. There is so much rain even at the coast that we do not dare to get into the mountains.
Second attempt. It is still heavily raining but not as much as the first time. But we will not see the volcano
Rain
Lava
Waterfalls in the rain
Scenery like on planet Mars
Other visitors
Belvédère du Nez-de-Bœuf
Notre Dame des Laves is supposed to be a miracle as lava has found it way around it instead of destroying it.
New territory as result of the eruption in 1977 which did spare Notre Dame des Laves
Lava fields
Lava from the most recent eruption this year is still steaming.
Cars have Réunion on the license plate.
7 Helicopter flight

We fly with Helilagon. The weather prevents again a flight around the active volcano and we do a loop into Cirque de Mafate instead.
We fly with an Aérospatiale AS350 with four passenger seats.

The Heli
Preparations
Start
Flight towards Saint-Paul
Close to edge of the crater and cloud base we go into the crater
Cirque de Mafate
Pilot Arnaud
Cirque de Mafate
Return
The heliport
Us after the flight
Another heli arriving
On the ground
8 What else

On the flight back from Paris I have seen some stunning weather views.

Before sunrise the sun shines from below through the clouds
A reverse sunset. The sun dives into clouds above us while shining on clouds below us.
9 Map of locations visited

"Map 2019_12_20_reunion