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One or more days canyons?

If the main goal of your holiday is canyoning, get organised to descend long canyons, with two or more days descents. One day long gorges (at least the ones we descended which should be the most beautiful according to the information we collected) are really remarkable but not more beautiful than many others in Europe. If your holiday is a "multipurpose" one, like ours was, canyoning is anyway something you must plan.

Seasons and sun light

In July daylight lasts for about 12 hours and the sunset is about at 6 p.m. The weather is often very beautiful in the morning but during the afternoon it may becomes cloudy and it could slightly rain.

Blue / green / red canyons

This is the canyons classification reported on the Colas guide, depending on the environment. During the dry season do not face blue canyons because they are dry and even full of "mephitic" pools. The only attempt we made (Divon) ended up after two rope descents. Red canyons, as well as green ones, seems to offer the right conditions for canyoning; in the green canyons there may be problems with the flow, even if in the only one we descended there were seaweed on the pools bottom. Surely eastern coast green canyons have stronger flows than the ones in Cilaos or Mafate.

Accesses and returns

The paths we rid, also during trekking, were perfectly marked and maintained. The paths timings reported on signs and on the guide were always quite reliable or even abundant.


Near Cilaos we didn’t have any problem in hitchhiking (we even got a lift while we were still on the return track, with a simple sign). Hitchhiking seems to be a very common way of moving on the island (only by men…) even if we didn’t do it far from Cilaos.

High falls

Almost every canyon has split descents on rope. Due to the remarkable flow during the rainy season, bolts are always in uncomfortable positions and not easy to find. Besides, we found out a few errors in the data pertinent to the falls lengths reported on the Colas guide (see our technical data). Then you have to be aware that the first who descend must be even more careful then usually and prepared to rise up along the rope.


A good advice is to collect ALWAYS any kind of information before moving. Because of the poor frequenting and the violent flows during the rainy season it’s always impossible to be sure about what you are going to face inside a canyon.

For maps and guides:
For canyoning:
- REUNION SENSATIONS in ST.GILLES; the girl, Natalie, is kind and qualified and as soon as she understand that you are able to practice canyoning by yourself she doesn’t try to sell you any organised tour.
- RIC ŕ RIC in CILAOS (Reunion Sensations business rivals); they usually reshuffle the figures of Pascal Colas and his friends and, besides, the cool chief EMERIC gives updated information

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Moving and settling

The island has a circumference of 240 km which could make you think to settle in one place and take daily journeys towards the different destinations. This is a cheap solution that surely minimises luggage loading and downloading operations. Anyway, a choice like this involves the disadvantage of moving along the tremendous inner roads with an average speed of about 25 km/h (about 15 mph).

Hereunder are a few examples of the most common journeys timings:

St. Gilles
1:45 (about 1:15 along 30 km of bends)
St. Gilles Hell Bourg 1:30 (about 0:30 along 12 km of bends)
St. Gilles St. Denis 0:30  
St. Gilles St. Benoit 1:15  
Cilaos St. Benoit 3:00 (almost always on bends)

In point of fact, for canyoning near Cilaos it's better to settle down for a few days. For canyoning near Mafate, the most comfortable settlement is the seaside area of St. Paul / St. Gilles. For canyoning near Salazie and in the east, it's up to you: it's even possible to settle near the beaches if you want to spend on the lagoon your days of relax.

Food and sleeping


  • Les Badamiers (Av. des Badamiers 27): beautiful bungalows into a luxuriant garden. 170 FF for a double room.
  • Dor-y-Flane (Av. de la Mer 8): wonderful villa with rooms (with bathroom) for the guests. Furthermore, you can cook your own meals in two comfortable porches. 200 FF for a double room.

  • Piment Vanille (Rue de la Plage): little tavern run by a kind Brittany man, where the food is very good and cheap (50/60 FF for a single dish and dessert).


  • Petit Soeurs de St.Joseph de Cluny: nunnery with 4 beds rooms with a little place for cooking and a bathroom. Really ugly and damp, the rooms are anyway very wide and the nuns really tactful. It's possible to enter and exit at any time (the rooms are closed and safe). This is the only place in Cilaos where you can cook your meals.

  • Chez Noč: bar-restaurant, run by a nice chatterer, frequented by the locals. Perfect for a quite typical night out.


  • Chez Madame Annibale: very good food and a wonderful "vanilla duck". It's possible to eat very well and very much with 100 FF.


  • WE ADVICE AGAINST Savriama "chambres d'hote", because of the poor hygiene and the annoying habit to make noise since 6 a.m.


  • Chamade: beautiful rooms in a beautiful place, 170 FF each person is the price of a half board, with abundant and genuine food.


During July 3 of the 4 camping indicated by the girls at the airport information desk were closed. At Grande Anse officially it was closed for works, at Cilaos it was just closed. We don't know anything about the one in Bras Panon but we think that probably there are no opened camping in the whole island. Every camping site has been closed during the past few years, probably for hygienic and safety reasons. Free camping in the mountains seems to be tolerated by the authority, but it also seems to be quite dangerous. For these reasons, we think it's better to carry smaller luggage, leaving at home tents and mats. Camping gaz and a grill can be very useful for a barbecue in one of the several beautiful picnic areas you can find all around the island.


During July one night in a double room with breakfast in a "chambre d'hote" (a kind of Bed & Breakfast) costs about 150/200 FF. Dining in a restaurant may cost about 70/110 FF (fixed price menus). In some places eating is possible with only 50/60 FF. For lunch, a cheap solution can be represented by a take-away roasted chicken (35 FF).

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Check in

CAUTION! It can be a serious problem to fall in a fussy attendant. Officially, the maximum luggage weight allowed by Air France is 23 kilos; each kg more costs 65 FF (yes, 10 US$). As a matter of fact they tolerate some extra kilos. We had about 80 kilos extra and so we made some very heavy and compact hand luggage in order to reduce the excess weight at the check-in.

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St. Denis hospital (CHD)

Go there for any kind of problem you may have: faultless service (almost with an excess of zeal) and ultra modern structures ...and we’ve been there for just a simple dysentery!

Information last update: July 1998