Saturday, 25 November 2006

Grand Raid 2006

Grand Raid from champacs on Vimeo.

Just imagine running eight marathons in a row! Completely crazy! And yet this is the feat the “diagonale des fous” finishers accomplish. When they are presented with the medal and the T-shirt emblazoned “I survived”, they have climbed 9000m which is equivalent to 25 Eiffel Towers.
From start to finish competitors climb 5 peaks culminating at about 2000m (the highest point being 2411m high). They skirt the volcano, touch the sky on crest paths overlooking deep ravines, the cirque of Cilaos, they walk through Mafate and wade ankle deep in mud in Kerveguen forest. The Grand Raid has become a myth: out of the initial 2500 or so, about 70% make it to the finish. The winner completes the race in about 23 hours while the last finisher is allowed 64!

If you want to know more about Reunion Island please click here and/or here

Wednesday, 1 February 2006

Rodrigues - the smallest Mascarene island

Rodrigues is, along with Reunion and Mauritius, the third and smallest island of the Mascarene Archipelago. Politically it is a dependency of Mauritius, which is about 600 km to the south west, and many of the island's visitors are Mauritian.

It has two 'claims to fame' - it is the part of Africa closest to Australia, and it is the furthest place where the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa was heard.

Map of Rodrigues

When we visited we made the most of direct flights between Reunion and Rodrigues (these were not to last however).

coming in to land
The island covers 108 km2 and is 18km long by 8 km wide.

coming in to land

We stayed in the Pointe Venus hotel, which is quite close to Port Mathurin, the capital.

view from our hotel balcony

Port Mathurin has a population of about 6 000 people; the whole island has about 40 000 inhabitants.

Port Mathurin

Ethnically Rodriguans have a mix of African and Malagasy blood, and are mainly Catholics,  but there are some Muslims too.

St Gabriel cathedral, Port Mathurin



sea-view cemetery

We visited Ile aux Cocos which is a small island and renowned bird sanctuary.

Ile aux Cocos

Ile aux Cocos

Ile aux Cocos

Ile aux Cocos

baby bird hatching

The island's highest point is only 355m.

Rodrigues seen from Ile aux Cocos


Rodrigues is quite dry and windswept, although the tropical location obviously keeps the climate hot and sunny too.

There are several beautiful and deserted beaches on Rodrigues:

weather station

Rodrigues' lagoon is very large, covering 300 km2.

part of Rodrigues lagoon

One of the main products fished on Rodrigues is octopus.

octopus drying in the sun

Underneath a coral plateau is an enormous cave 600 metres long called Caverne Patate.


cave exit

We didn't get to scuba-dive whilst there, but we would love to return to do so (see here).

leaving Rodrigues

Suggested reading:

The Prospector by JM Le Clézio (2008 Nobel Prize Winner for Literature). Alexis L'Estang becomes obsessed with finding the treasure of the legendary Unknown Corsair on the island of Mauritius. The child recalls the sea around the island of Rodrigues in the Indian Ocean. The author situated the plot of this book in the village of Anse aux Anglais.

If you read French or Spanish, JM Le Clézio also wrote the novel Voyage à Rodrigues ("Trip to Rodrigues"; translated into Spanish as Viaje a Rodrigues but not yet translated into English).

Useful links:


Rodrigues on the BBC's Excess Baggage programme (Saturday October 22nd 2011).