The World ARC fleet were delivered excellent weather conditions today for their tour around the south of Reunion and to the Piton de la Fournaise volcano. As the tourists were driven up the mountainside, the skies remained clear, allowing the crews to see great panoramas that stretched from rocky peaks down to the ocean below. For people who enjoy the ocean and are more used to seeing seascapes and ports rather than green and rocky mountains and lunar volcanic landscapes, today’s trip around the island was very revealing.
But to get the right conditions, you need to start early too and the wake-up calls for the 0700 departures must have felt like being on a watch keeping routine at sea for many. However, with excellent commentary from tour guides Nicolas and Sully, the crews were soon into the swing of a very interesting and informative day. The crews travelled south to Saint Pierre and Le Tampon, whist learning about the island’s geography, history, industries and governance; Reunion is the size of Luxembourg or Rhode Island, half of the cultivated land in for sugar cane, the island has 1000km of footpaths, the route around the island is 207km long… the facts were plentiful and the commentary very interesting.
Our first stop was the panoramic lookout at Le Nez de Boeuf. At 2065m, it has a commanding view of the la Riviere des Rampants valley below in which sits the hamlet of ‘Roche Plate’. For many crews who are familiar with the mountains in Europe the views were similar to those found in the Alps or Pyrenees. So it was a surprise to arrive at the next stop, overlooking La Plaine des Sables, which is a completely grey and lunar-like landscape owing to former volcanic activity. And with that hint of being near the Piton de la Fournaise it was only a few more kilometres to le Pas de Bellecombe from where crews could easily see the Fournaise crater and several sites of recent small eruptions.
The group took a great lunch, with a traditional menu, at the Chez Ti Rose restaurant before slowly making their way back to the yachts in Le Port. Owing to the 0700 hours start, the smooth motorway roads which follow the west coast and the red wine at lunch, less information was expected from Nicolas and Sully on the return trip!!
The tour was terrifically revealing for all the crews, almost all of whom have not visited La Reunion before. And the day developed the aspirations for exploring different parts of the island during the next week. On behalf of the fleet, World Cruising Club would like to thank the Reunion Tourism Board for supporting and organising such a great day out. Thank you.