Where: Trou Blanc, Hell Bourg, Cirque de Salazie, Réunion, Indian Ocean
Best season: October to March
Activities: Canyoning – rapelling steep canyons and plummeting down waterfalls
Remember to bring: Your professional guide will equip you with a waterproof backpack, crash helmet, neoprene diving suit, and climbing belt
Where It’s At
Hell Bourg, in the Cirque de Salazie, Réunion, is like a chunk of France that has been dug out and shoved over to an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean. There are outdoor cafés serving croissant coffee, a Kreol baker selling jambón baguettes, signs in French, French tourists and everywhere people speak French, and play dominoes with a ‘je ne sais quoi’. No wonder, because it’s the only island that voted to stay part of the French Commonwealth.
Don’t let the exterior of sophistication deceive you: this is a pick-up point to go canyoning in Trou Blanc for some serious rappelling down its tumbling waterfalls.
What is Canyoning?
Canyoning is an extreme adventure sport not yet ten years old, although its roots are in caving which was pioneered by a scientific explorer called Eduard Alfred Martell back in 1889. It’s based on rappelling steep and narrow canyons that have been carved out by rivers and flash floods.
Canyoning in Trou Blanc – Trekker’s Tips
The greatest thrill, however, is riding the waterfalls out on your back. There are sixty waterfalls in Réunion alone, but Trou Blanc is the easiest one for a novice canyoneer.
Canyoneers will need to wear waterproof backpacks, a crash helmet, a neoprene diving suit, and climbing belt. You begin by hiking along a spectacular mountain path, past country people tending their vegetable and sugar cane patches. You then wade through the water of the waterfall where your outfitter will arrange a series of hanging ropes along the canyon wall on an overhanging rock. The river lies some three yards below and it’s extremely steep, with a very sheer drop which is obscured by the bending canyon walls of the route.
Now you begin ‘a cascade of initiation’: hook yourself onto the rappel and scramble across the ropes by inserting clamp grips into hook knots that have been hammered into the canyon walls until you reach the edge of the cascade. To ride the first drop on a descending rope, place your hands across your shoulders, elbows tucked in, and you must lie on your back. Then you receive your ‘baptism’, plummeting around twenty feet into the base pool below. After some warm ups, the pièce de resistance of Trou Blanc is a fifty foot descent down a narrow-walled precipitous waterfall. The experience is exhilarating, unpredictable, extremely dangerous – and freezing!
Ric a Ric
13 Av du Gal de Gaulle
97434 Saint Gilles les Bains
Telephone: + 02 62 33 2538
Ric a Ric is a well-established and reputed canyoning outfitter. Their experts and certified guides will take you to some of the most beautiful canyons in Réunion. It’s a memorable and fun experience, especially if you get to go with manager and canyoner extraordinaire, Mric. Born on the continent, he’s a legendary potholer, extreme kayaker and canyoner. He’s opened and equipped many of the canyons in Réunion. Be warned that canyons considered easy in Réunion are in fact intermediate compared to Europe, so you need to be in good physical form and not scared of heights.
By Susi O’Neill