Every Monday flies by Jean-Marie Timon, 47, to work in solitude. The helicopter brings him to the mountains over steep, rugged canyons and thundering waterfalls in the Cirque de Mafate. The houses sticking to the Slopes, tiny villages that are miles away from each other. And far and wide is no road that connects them to each other. Who wants to be here, you need a minimum of Hiking six hours.

Only Timon, the letter carrier, comes with the helicopter. He knows each of the 600 people in the Cirque de Mafate, his district. Timon says: “to be a postman in La Réunion is the most beautiful profession in the world. Here I am not only a mailman, but also a psychologist, and Gossip girl.” Behind him, the mountain giants, in front of him four days of walking. As long as it takes to bring the Post into the remotest corners.

3000 meters above the sea

La Réunion is a tiny green splash of Colour in the Indian ocean. Created millions of years ago from the sea in a 3000-Meter-high volcano grew, the Piton des Neiges. He is today the Foundation of the island, the peaks with peaks, tropical forests and white beaches, is an ideal destination for hikers with a bath towel in the Luggage.

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Overwhelming nature: views of the Piton d’Enchaing in the Caldera Cirque de Salazie in Hell-Bourg

©Stefan Kiefer Picture-Alliance

And because La Réunion is a French Department, as the Ardèche or the Vosges mountains, you end up after about ten hours of flight time at the other end of the world but somehow in Europe: The customs officials will look only casually at the papers, you pay with the Euro, and the cheese and wine on offer keeps loose French claims.

However, in contrast to the 9000 kilometers away in the mother country are offered on the market as Apples and pears, but papaya and pineapple. In the trees, colorful birds sitting, with a bit of luck, you meet a turtle while snorkeling a Water. And by the way, the sun is also shining all year round.

Never go back!

“Back in the city, you would have to beat me,” says Sylvie Briant, 51. She is a slender woman with a broad Smile. 37 years ago, she moved from Brittany in the Indian ocean. She bought a small house in the South of the island, to built the attic, and a terrace. Since then, she rented a room with a view on palm trees, Litchi trees and the sea.

how to get there: Air France flies from many German cities via Paris – where the airport needs to be replaced – on the island, as well as from Paris Air Austral.

As Réunion is part of France, is sufficient for EU citizens the ID card for entry. He should still be at least valid for six months.

time to travel: all year round. November to April are for beach holidays, may to October, ideal for walking.

for More info: www.insel-la-reunion.com

A “Chambre d’hôte”, the French “Bed & Breakfast”variant, is cheaper than a Hotel. Who lives in private accommodation, it has direct access to the country and its people. In some houses, it is the only guest, in the other 15 people sitting at the table. In the case of Sylvie there are only two, and get a menu of the Finest is served. As your guests after the meal, tired lying on the terrace, it promises to cook the next day, a sausage stew. “The Germans particularly like.”

Actually, Réunion is quite a colorful stew: In the cities of kitschy churches are temples next to huge mosques and splendid Hindu. The skin color of the Locals, goes from bright white to dark brown. That all speak French, is to Louis XIV., of the island in the middle of the 17. Century, not only take possession, but also his family name “Bourbon” missed. Again and again the French had to defend the Ile Bourbon against the English. It was less about honor than sugar.

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Experienced hand grips: In Bras-Panon on the East coast of the island of Reunion are sorted Bourbon vanilla pods.

©Picture-Alliance vanilla flowers marry

In the 19th century. Century increased the demand for the sweet substance in the mother country is so strong that the 60,000 slaves on the sugar plantations failed to comply with the work. For the support of Indian work, have been recruited to the forces to which it on the island so well-liked that they settled. Also from Madagascar, the settlers came from Africa and later from China. Since the island was renamed in La Réunion.

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A lone mountain biker in the Plaines des Sables on La Réunion in the Indian ocean,

©Norbert Eisele-Hein Picture-Alliance

However, the memory of “Bourbon” lives on in the vanilla, since the 19th century. Century was exported, besides sugar from the colony to the home country. The plants love the moist, warm climate, and temperatures do not fall even in the Winter below 15 degrees Celsius. However, there is a Problem: In a natural way, the vanilla of a resident in Mexico Soon can pollinate. All of the Experiments, the animals éunion to settle, have failed so far. And that is why florists tilt Roulof gets up every Morning at four o’clock, the vanilla flowers rates to “marry”, as the Dust here is called.

vanilla is aged nine months of

quick as a Flash, the 42-Year-old scrapes with a thin cactus needle, the Pollen from the calyx and pushes him to the punch. By noon, she has fertilized in this way, 2500 flowers on their plantation in Saint André. Flori tilt must be fast, because when the sun shines on the plants, close their chalices. Only for a day, the vanilla flower pairing is ready.

there Is successful fertilization, it takes nine months, up in the same place a green rod. Son, husband, and father-in-law for the harvest. And dried the pods rods are steamed at the end of black as Licorice. And their flavor is so intense that you swear to never go back to artificial vanilla sugar at the supermarket.

thriving Neige is not the only early riser of the island. Because the sun is shortly after five o’clock bulging in the sky, also makes use of Jean-Patrick Morel the Morning to Train. Morels Hobbies are painting and Running. In the past year, he has logged in to the “Diagonal of the Crazy”, a fun run, and one of the toughest in the world: It is 150 kilometers across the island, Saint Philippe in the South-East to Saint Denis, to the North-West. The route passes over rough mountain ridges, narrow paths and wide rivers. You have to beat the volcano and the Plaine des Cafres and the Cirque de Mafate. The fastest in the 2000 Starter need not even 24 hours.

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Über of the Bay of Grand Anse: the Five-star luxury hotel, the Hotel Palm Hotel & Spa

©Sergi Reboredo Picture-Alliance

The 40-year-old Morel was looking for new motifs for his painting, and dreamed for years of can you find in this race. The starting shot was fired at midnight, the first three hours were only uphill. As the sun rose at last, crossed the Morel is just the Plaine des Sables, the sand of the sea. “I’ve never seen such colors,” he says. Greenish, the light had glimmered, crossed by thin yellow threads. As he reached after 40 hours of the target, were saved in his head so many new impressions that he “can draw on a life of it”. Three weeks after the race, he went with his wife to see the sunrise at the volcano. He wanted to show her the “most beautiful place of the island.”

reverence for the volcano descent

The 3000-metre-high Piton des Neiges,the volcano that once formed the island, is long gone. In the South-East of Réunion, but it’s bubbling still. The Piton de la Fournaise, the “tip of the gluten-furnace”, is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Again and again, put his lava lame flows of the traffic on the coast road. The last Eruption was so violent that one of the volcano collapsed cone. Since then, a hike to the summit is impossible. And only one other attraction remains the tourists.

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thin liquid Lava flows from the crater of the 2612 meters high volcano Piton de la Fournaise

©Picture-Alliance

at sunrise, you gather at the crater, a mile-wide lunar landscape and descend. There you will encounter another small crater, the Formica Léo. Who dares to take this descent, does that silently. Out of reverence and because of the narrow path of each of the requires full concentration. From up close, the lunar landscape turns out to be a bizarre work of art made of Lava left by the Solidification of wrinkles and columns. “It is best, when about eleven o’clock the mist is in the gloamin'”, says Thomas Staudacher.

Where the island grows

The 57-Year-old volcanologist and a “self-confessed Fan of the gluten-furnace”. He had been many times up here and says, the Piton de la Fournaise is a “picture-book volcano.” Which is why the Germans referred to the twelve years ago, at the foot of the Position, and since then, from a wooden hut from the activity of the volcano was observed. He registered minimum ground extents and the change in the slope. Long before the mountain starts to spit fire, can beat Staudacher Alarm. “At the Moment everything is calm,” he assured.

On the wall in his office, photos of the outbreak of the slopes. The most recent occurred in August of 2017. It looks Staudacher, a soil sample, while directly behind him, glowing Lava flows down the mountain. He tells how different the volcano can return to his inner self to the outside: “Every Time there is a new game show.” And there, where the Lava flows into the sea, and froze to stone, meet the people and hold on to the spectacle with their cameras. You don’t see all day, as an island grows.

Click through the photo gallery:

“these are the most beautiful resorts in the Indian ocean,”

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