The program of the Biennial

Saturday, May 23th
Welcome to La Réunion

You will be met at the airport of Saint-Denis de la Réunion and transferred by bus to your hotel. The two selected hotels are located beachfront in the seaside resort of Saint-Gilles Les Bains on the west coast of the island.

You can sit quietly at your hotel and enjoy free time at the beach (many opportunities for water activities in the lagoon) or take time in the tourist village of Saint-Gilles Les Bains nearby (bars and restaurants along the harbor, shopping, aquarium ...).

A welcome evening will be offered in one of the 2 hotels (welcome speech, presentation of the program, gourmet buffet).

Sunday May 24th
The volcano and the forest of Bélouve

Participants will be split into 2 groups for visits over 2 half days :

- The volcano la Fournaise

You will reach the center of the island by bus and discover the fantastic landscapes of the Piton de la Fournaise : old vertiginous craters, lunar landscapes and finally a breathtaking view from a promontory on the volcano. You will observe a shrub vegetation very specific to this type of environment. The Piton de la Fournaise is one of the most active volcanoes on the planet due to the frequency of new eruptions (on average one every nine months in the last ten years). With a little luck, you can see an eruption and the lava flows that made it famous.

- The forest of Bélouve

You will reach by bus the highlands of La Réunion where you will discover a "forest of mists" typical of high altitude, composed of tamarins (Acacia heterophylla), tree ferns, lichens, many species of orchids,... At Bélouve, the final destination of this trip, you can observe one of the last populations of Black palmist of the highlands (Acanthophoenix crinita) and from there, a vertiginous point of view on the Cirque de Salazie below. From Bélouve, different options of walks will be proposed to you according to your wishes and your physical condition at the moment, the most motivated ones will reach an incredible point of view on the impressive waterfall "the hole of iron".

Monday, May 25th & Tuesday, May 26th
Private gardens of La Réunion & the tour of the island by east coast

Participants will be divided into 2 groups – a day visiting 2 private gardens and on the other, the tour of the island by east coast

- The private gardens of La Réunion

This day will be devoted to the visit of two private gardens belonging to two palm collectors, Thierry HUBERT, honorary president of Palmeraie-Union Society, and Serge HOAREAU. During these visits you will enjoy the charm of the Creole gardens and the beautiful typical houses of La Réunion and you will be impressed by the rich botanical collections of these gardens. A moment of relaxation and conviviality to meet La Réunion enthusiasts, people who will be delighted to show you their property and share with you their passion for gardens and palm trees.

- The tour of the island by east coast

Departing from St Gilles, you will take a bus for a tour of the island, passing first by the east coast, with stops on some of the classic tourist attractions of La Réunion.
You will enjoy the beautiful landscapes of sugarcane plantations on the east coast, the wettest coast of the island.
Arriving to the south, in the commune of Sainte Rose, you will begin to see the first lava flows, then you will make a stop at a remarkable place called “l’Anse des cascades” where you will have lunch in an impressive and very old plantation of red palmists (Acanthophoenix rubra).
Following the tour of the island will take us to travel the wild south coast and its many lava flows that have created over time very impressive landscapes where the vegetation gradually regenerates. This day of visits will take us to see one of the last wild populations of red latan (Latania lontaroides) and will finish with a moment of relaxation on the huge beach of Grande-Anse to enjoy the sunset on the Indian Ocean.

Wednesday, May 27th
Free day

During this free day, you will have the choice between staying at the hotel and enjoying a well-deserved relaxation at the pool or at the beach, or choose from many opportunities for sightseeing or activities which will be offered to you: Volcano excursions, Rafting, canyoning, helicopter tour of the island, diving initiation, golf, visits to the Salazie or Cilaos cirques, lava tunnels, visits to some private gardens of the members of Palmeraie-Union ...

Thursday, May 28th
Le Tampon Parc des Palmiers

During this day, you will enjoy the Parc des Palmiers at le Tampon, a vast landscaped park of nearly 10 hectares, with a unique collection of palm trees of about 40 000 subjects representing more than 1000 different species, which makes it a world-class botanical garden. This ambitious project initiated in the 90's continues its development with the aim of reaching a surface of 20 ha.

You will enjoy all day long a visit to the park and its nursery and you will appreciate the remarkable collections of palms gathered there for many years.

The country meal that will be offered to you into the heart of Le Parc des Palmiers will surely be one of the highlights of this biennial. Finally, in small groups, you will be transferred not far from there for a visit to the only known population of the beautiful palmist Roussel (Acanthophoenix rousselii), an endemic species described only in 2006 and of which there are only a few dozen individuals left into the wild.

Friday, May 29th
The Wild South

For this last day of the visit, we travel to the wild south of the island where several visits will be proposed to you.

- The Garden of Perfumes and Spices

You will discover the wonders of a Creole garden: a multitude of aromatic plants, allspice, pepper, nutmeg, cloves at the foot of enormous centenarian mango and litchi trees, and also a rich collection of endemic plants , ferns, orchids, and palm trees of course. All around the garden, you can admire the traditional plantations of vanilla in the forest undergrowth.

- The Mare-Longue Forest

Not far from the Garden of Perfumes and Spices, a short stroll will be proposed to you to discover one of the last vestiges of lowland tropical moist forest, locally called “forest of colored woods”. This is one of the richest areas for the island’s biodiversity with a significant number of endemic species of trees, ferns, orchids, etc. In this beautiful forest, you will meet the poisonous palmist Hyophorbe indica in its natural environment.

- Plantation of red palmists

The wild south is the region of the island where large plantations of red palmists (Acanthophoenix rubra) are cultivated. A visit will be offered to you in one of these plantations of red palmists in a breathtaking landscape between sea and mountains.

For lunch, a typical menu will be proposed to you based on palm heart where you will enjoy the La Réunion palmists but also other palms grown for their consumption such as Roystonea palms and the pejibaye (Bactris gasipaes).

In the evening, back to the hotel, you will enjoy a gala evening: lectures, gala dinner and dance party that provide a fitting end to this magnificent stay in La Réunion.

Saturday, May 30th

Transfers will be organized to the airport of Saint Denis according to your departure flight schedule.