June 30, 2014

Why should you visit Reunion?

Reunion is a lush green tropical island in the middle of the Indian Ocean. So why should you head to this relatively untouched paradise? 
Why choose this island for your next adventure? 

Well here are a few reasons why:

1. It's close! Reunion Island is easily accessible from South Africa. There are direct flights on Air Austral from Johannesburg to Reunion, and the flight is only four hours.

2. The island is very safe. Reunion is a French department, and enjoys the same health and safety standards as France.

3. Cultural diversity. The population is made up of many cultures from Africa, Madagascar, Asia and Europe. These different cultures can be seen in the architecture, festivals, dances and expressed in the diverse cuisine options.

4. Very unique! Very hospitable - a nation that enjoys promoting their island and never forgetting to party!

5. Strong gastronomic personality and many cuisines to chose from. Famous markets, vanilla, spices, litchis, mangoes and coconuts lend themselves to many diverse flavours.

6. Marine biodiversity. More than 550 species of fish and 150 species of hard corals. A fantastic place to whale watch as whales give birth to their calves close to shore.

7. Sun all year round. This is a tropical island with sandy beaches, warm transparent blue waters, fabulous sea beds and dolphins all year round.

8. UNESCO world heritage site. 42% of this country's territory has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. There are breath-taking landscapes with volcanic lunar land forms, lush green cirques and the highest peaks in the Indian Ocean.

9. Sports and activities galore! Extreme sports, canyoning, climbing, paragliding, snorkeling, forest trails, glass bottom boats, hiking; almost any form of outdoor sport or activity takes place here.

10. And it's visa free for South Africans.


It is advisable to use mosquito repellent, lotions and sprays. Passengers arriving from endemic countries must be vaccinated against yellow fever and cholera. There is no malaria in Reunion.

Time Difference:
The island of Reunion is two hours ahead of South Africa.

A French or International Driver’s Licence is required. Driving on the island is easy with all roads in good condition. Driving is on the right and the French Highway Code applies.

Currency, Banks and Credit Cards:
As Reunion is a department of France and an EU region, the currency used is the Euro. Credit cards accepted on the island are Carte Bleue, Visa, MasterCard, Diners, Eurocard and American Express.
Bank business hours are generally from 08h00 to 16h00, Monday to Friday. Holders of foreign bank cards (MasterCard, Visa, Eurocheques, and Cirrus) are able to withdraw Euros at ATMs.

Water and Electricity:
Water is safe to drink all over the island. Mineral water is available in all restaurants, bars, snack-bars, grocery stores and supermarkets.
Voltage: 220 volts

Climate and Seasons:
The island enjoys a tropical climate tempered by the proximity of the Indian Ocean. The coastal temperature varies between 18 and 32º C. Each region has its own micro-climate and it is sunny all year round.

From November to April (30ºC average). This is the hot and humid season. Light clothing is recommended, especially at the seaside. At higher altitudes the temperature varies between 15 and 24ºC.

From May to October (20ºC average) is the cool season. At higher altitudes and on the mountains the temperature may fall to 4ºC and rarely exceeds 25ºC. Above 1 800m there is frequent frost, especially at night during July and August.

What to wear:
Mostly light summer clothing is suitable but it is recommended that you pack some warm clothes as on the high ground it may be cold in the evening.

Flights and Airports:
Air Austral operates two direct flights a week from Johannesburg on Thursdays and Sundays.

The Roland Garros Airport (RUN) is 10km from Saint-Denis, 51km from Saint-Gilles and 41km from Hell Bourg. Several scheduled airlines have links from Roland Garros to metropolitan France and regional Indian Ocean destinations.

A regular shuttle bus service runs between the airport and Saint-Denis bus terminal. A 24-hour taxi service is available for travellers in front of the airport.

Local Transport
Bus: Car Jaune (yellow buses) criss-cross the entire island.

All taxis in Reunion are equipped with odometers. Fares per kilometre vary between €0.93 (R13.74) and €2.79 (R41.22) (taxes included) but this excludes the pick-up fare, the baggage supplement or the supplement for pick up at the airport.

A trip between Roland Garros Airport and Saint Gilles is between €75 (R848) and €85 (R960) during the day and between €95 (R1 074) and €120 (R1 356) at night.

Car Rental:
A French or International Driver’s Licence is required. All the large international rental firms as well as some local ones offer reliable vehicles and proper rental contracts. Rates may be per day with a mileage supplement or on an unlimited mileage scheme.

Some companies have promotional offers (weekend, publicity vehicle, etc). The price of fuel is laid down by the Prefecture and, contrary to metropolitan France, prices are the same at all petrol stations.


The North

One of the main towns is Saint-Denis.

In Rue de Paris, some of the buildings have been turned into museums and the Jardin de l’Etat (State Garden) is a haven of tranquillity with footpaths lined with exotically scented trees. One can visit the Creole cooking workshop in Sainte-Suzanne and learn how to cook a cari over a wood fire after having shopped at the market for the spices and ingredients needed for the dish.

The owners of the Maison Chassagne, a sugar estate, welcome visitors to relive aspects of life of that era or the drying process of vanilla can be discovered at the Vanilleraie of the Domaine du Grand Hazier.

On the coast between Saint-Denis to Sainte-Suzanne there are footpaths and picnic areas. In the hills at the Maniquet waterfall, in the Grand Brûlé forest or on a walk to Piton Fougères, there are stunning views from Cap Bernard to the Sainte-Suzanne River.

Golf In La Montagne and go horse-riding in the Colorado leisure park. Athletes and thrill-seekers can take the Via Ferrata across the rocky cliff-face of the Niagara waterfall in Sainte-Suzanne and also try out canyoning.

The Sainte Marie Aeronautic Club offers helicopter or microlight flights to view the Pitons, Cirques and Ramparts. Saint-Denis has restaurants with cuisine from all over the world on offer, and for those who like late nights, the Bowling Club and Casino are good choices.

In Sainte-Marie one can run along rocky foothills and through cool greenery, leading to breath-taking viewpoints and enchanting panoramas. Piton Plaine des Fougères: A a round-trip hike with dazzling views of la Roche Écrite, the Rivière des Pluies and the Cirque of Salazie.

Visit the Niagara Cascade: Year round, the plentiful waters of the East feed the Niagara Cascade, the pond of Sainte-Suzanne and the river of the same name in Sainte-Suzanne:

The West

Numerous hotels and restaurants line the white or black sand beaches. A Natural Marine Reserve stretches across 3,500 hectares and at Ermitage beach visitors can snorkel and take an underwater tour of the lagoon.

At Saint-Gilles there are several scuba dive companies and the aquarium is home to an extraordinary diversity of Réunion’s undersea world. Whales can be spotted here from the coast or followed at a safe distance in boats.

Boating enthusiasts can take a boat or catamaran trip to see dolphins and for those keen on big-game fishing, there are boat trips from Saint-Gilles or Saint-Leu. Water sports enthusiasts can enjoy sailing, canoeing, wave-skiing and kite-surfing.

Saint-Leu where the Conservatoire Botanique National de Mascarin: The botanical heritage of the Indian Ocean is preserved in this sanctuary. The Colimaçons estate is also a beautiful example of Creole architecture and is important in local history. 

The South

Saint-Pierre, the capital of the south of the island, has a marina that caters for water sports fans and beautiful beaches lined with restaurants. The town centre’s architectural gems include buildings from the East India Trading Company, traditional Creole houses, and religious sites.

In Saint-Joseph, the Labyrinth en Champ Thé takes visitors through the process of making tea, from the bush to the cup. The ‘Mare Longue’ forest, recently classified as a UNESCO world heritage site, is home to a beautiful array of endemic trees.

The Museum of Decorative Arts of the Indian Ocean is situated on a former coffee plantation that was later modified to grow sugar. ‘Saga Du Rhum’ at the Isautier Rum distillery in Saint-Pierre offers a perspective into the techniques and the history of the industry. Etang-Salé is a great spot for swimming and surfing, a round of golf, or a visit to the crocodile park.

The East

The east is a paradise for canoeing, kayaking, rafting, canoe-rafting, kayak jumping and canyoning. There are extensive fields of sugar cane. It’s possible to visit the ‘Bois Rouge’ sugar factory during the harvest period and the distilleries all year round.

The Cirques are created by the erosion and the collapse of the Piton des Neiges’s walls and the volcano.

Cilaos, classified as a natural heritage site, lies in the shadow of the ‘Piton des Neiges’, the island’s highest summit at 3 071m. The town is a mountain resort with many sports on offer and is the starting point for over 80km of footpaths. Cilaos is also a spa town. The spa is the only one on the island, and has been open since the 19th century.

A tricky climb takes visitors across solidified lava to the crater’s summit, which offers a panorama of the whole island. A drive along the Route des Laves is not to be missed – lava flow after lava flow, wide streams that have poured down the mountainside and into the sea. Signposts indicate the different eruptions of the Piton de la Fournaise.

Photo credits: 1, 2-5, 6-11

June 27, 2014

5 Wimbledon traditions you should know

The Wimbledon Championships is the most prestigious tennis tournament in the world and the oldest. Started in 1877, it has been held at the same All England Club in south London ever since. Wimbledon is almost as well known for its unique traditions as its tennis. We take a look at what you can expect when visiting…

(1) All white dress code 
Since 1877, every player has worn an all-white uniform. Players have been known, especially in recent years however, to push the boundaries of the all-white rule and have chosen outfits to make a fashion statement.

(2) Strawberries and cream
This is said to be invented by Cardinal Wolsey (an advisor to King Henry VIII) in the 1500s. Both strawberries and tennis signal the beginning of summer in the UK. Each year, more than 28,000kg of strawberries and 7000 litres of cream are consumed during Wimbledon.

(3) The royals
The English Royal family has supported and attended Wimbledon since 1907 and the players are supposed to bow in front of the Royal Box when either Her Majesty the Queen or His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales are present at the court.

(4) The queues and camping
Wimbledon remains the only Grand Slam where fans can arrive without tickets and have a chance to obtain seats. Typically, you would need to camp overnight in the park to get in. The rows of tents stretching across the park are almost as famous as Centre Court itself.

(5) No advertising 
In the age of mass advertising especially at sports events, the lack of advertising is conspicuous.Wimbledon does not have any sponsor advertising around its courts.

Have you attended Wimbledon? Or is it still on your travel bucket list? Comment below and let us know.

Photo credits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 78, 9

June 26, 2014

Meet Taryn from Sure Travel 24-7

Meet Taryn from Sure Travel 24-7

This week’s Q&A interview with just one of the friendly faces you could meet at your local Sure Travel agency… say hello to Taryn Classens, Senior Travel Consultant at Sure Travel 24-7 in Boksburg.

Meet Taryn from Sure Travel 24-7
Tell us a little about yourself? I love to travel (obviously!), have been in the travel industry for 9 years, am a crazy animal lover, love sport and spend every Sunday on the soccer pitch. I really enjoy trying new things, whether it is food or activities, I am up for the challenge.

What do you love most about your job? The great people I get to work with. As well as the opportunities to visit countries I otherwise would not have had a chance to see.

Less well-known attractions in your area? My favourite place to visit has to be the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve. Not only do you get to interact with Lion, Cheetah and Tiger cubs but they also do great conservation work. A great day out for the whole family! For those interested in a night out on the town or a great restaurant, then Greenside is the place to visit.

What would you tell a tourist to do? Soweto day tour, a visit to the Union buildings, for the thrill seekers a day at Gold Reef City. If they are looking for even more culture then a visit to the Maboneng district or even the Cradle of Humankind is a must. A visit to Joburg also isn’t complete without a ride on the Gautrain and some shopping at Sandton City.

First time you ever travelled abroad? My first ever overseas trip was with family friends to Spain. That really opened my eyes to what a big world there is out there and made me determined to see as much of it as possible.

Favourite destination to travel to? I am most definitely an island girl. Sun, sea and sand is where I am happiest.

La Digue Seychelles on the Sure Travel blog

Seychelles on the Sure Travel blog

If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would you go? Maldives or Bora Bora. Sunshine and peace!

Next place on your travel bucket list? New York. A must see.

Most treasured travel memory? Arriving in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland. The absolutely breathtaking scenery of this town, situated in a valley in the Alps, is something I will never forget. To this day, I still tell people that I have never seen a more beautiful place.

Lauterbrunnen on the Sure Travel blog

Lauterbrunnen on the Sure Travel blog

Funniest travel experience? Every trip you are bound to have a funny experience but there are always those that still make you giggle years later. My first trip to Europe was an eye opener and you could say I was slightly naïve (an understatement). All excited, off I went to the Moulin Rouge, but somehow I missed the whole idea of the show. Well you should have seen my face when all the dancing ladies came out onto stage…topless!!

Moulin Rouge on the Sure Travel blog

What advice would you give to someone travelling? Venture away from your resort or hotel and explore the local surroundings. This is the only way to discover some real gems and make some fantastic memories.

Something most people don’t know about you? I am a proper nerd at heart and have started a travel magnet collection. My fridge has a magnet from every country I have ever visited.

What is Sure Travel 24-7’s story? Sure Travel 24-7 started 9 years ago in owner, Debbie Joubert’s, tiny spare bedroom. We have come a long way from our humble beginnings and now operate from lovely spacious offices, with 3 Senior Consultants. Starting out as a small independent agency, within 2 years we had our own IATA license, joined ASATA and have been operating as a Sure Travel agency for the past 6 years.

Meet Taryn from Sure Travel 24-7 travel agency office
Debbie Joubert (Owner/Manager), Taryn Classens (Senior Consultant), Rona McCracken ( Senior Consultant).

Why should a client visit Sure Travel 24-7? We offer personalised, friendly service and our consultants go the extra mile to make sure your trip goes smoothly from start to finish. We have varied knowledge of most destinations so can assist with all travel arrangements for both corporate and leisure travel.

Contact Sure Travel 24-7:
9 Orkes Road, Sunward Park Ext 1, Boksburg.
Call:  011 896 5295
Email: taryn@travel24-7.co.za
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June 24, 2014

7 Reasons to visit Brazil

With the eyes of the world on the soccer world cup in Brazil, one could be forgiven for thinking that the country is just for soccer fans. The truth is that Brazil, the fifth largest country in the world, has so much more to offer. Here are just seven reasons why you should visit (and not just during the World Cup either)…

(1) The beaches
Powdery white sand beaches filled with the lithe and tanned locals playing football, volleyball, surfing or sunbathing. From city beaches to quieter ones off the beaten track, you will find the perfect beach for you. Don't forget your Havaianas!

(2) Caipirinhas
Whether you’re relaxing on the beach or at the bar, nothing tastes more like Brazil than a Caipirinha, their strong (unofficial) national cocktail. It's made with sugar cane hard liquor, sugar and lime. Global variations of the Caipirinha were created in celebration of the soccer World Cup by replacing the sugar with a liqueur or ingredient from each nation's home country.

(3) The landscapes and biodiversity
Considering the varied landscapes – from beaches to waterfalls and the famous Amazon rain forest – it’s little wonder that the country boasts the greatest collection of plant and animal species found anywhere on earth. There are over 70 national parks to choose from and you will see more exotic birds and mammals than you can possibly imagine.

(4) The rhythm
Music fills the streets of Brazil. From the samba, drumbeats of Salvador and reggae to the Carimbo, Maracatu and Forro, music, song and dance can be enjoyed everywhere from the streets to the dance clubs.

(5) The carnivals
Although you may not want to visit during festival time (it’s much more expensive and crowded), the carefree joie de vivre that enchants visitors during festival time is present in everyday life in this fun-loving nation. But if you do happen to be there during carnival time, you’re guaranteed the time of your life. The most famous celebrations are seeing in the New Year on Copacabana beach and Rio's Carnaval.

(6) The colours
Everything seems to be brighter and bolder in Brazil. From the architecture to the food, color is everywhere. 

(7) These views
Need we say more?

Interested in visiting Brazil? For expert advice and service, visit the Sure Travel website to find your nearest Sure Travel agency.

Photo credits: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27