Holiday Part 2 4

I’ll just have to write blogs about my kids and their holidays. I’ve got so much more material ! With all the holidays they have, you’re guaranteed to have something to read at least every 7 weeks. They’re still on freestyle for almost 3 weeks. So you’ve got to keep them busy… As we’ve got a big trip planned for next December, for July/August we’re staying on the island. It allows us to visit the island, which is magnificent.


We live on Reunion Island and we’re so caught up in our daily lives and work that we forget that this place is just amazing and that we haven’t visited much of it. We tell ourselves we’ll do that later. That we’ll visit this place some other time… . In the end, we didn’t do anything. We decided to help the children discover the beauty of the place where they live. It’s a bit like Street Photography, where you’re always looking for something exotic and you can’t take photos where you live because it’s well known that the grass is greener elsewhere …  It’s always better somewhere else!



After our week at the seaside trolling and watching the whales, we went for a short hike in the Mafate cirque. Our first objective was to avoid the rain, as we have the annoying habit of ending our hikes completely cold and soaked to the skin.



A little anecdote. On Gwen’s first visit to Reunion Island, I took her to the island’s highest peak. The Piton des Neiges is 3070 m high. We slept at the gîte, which is 2500 m above sea level. We were due to wake up at 4am to do the rest of the climb to watch the sunrise. Of course, when we woke up, it was pouring down… Everyone looked at each other in the gîte and apart from 2 Belgians who went up, everyone went back to bed… 2 hours later, everyone was getting ready to head back down, including us. That’s when our 2 Belgians showed up and told us they were so happy because it had cleared up there and they’d been able to enjoy the show. I looked at Gwen and said: “Come on! Let’s get going. We’re just taking a bottle of water, our panchos and the camera ! Banzai !”



Well, we climbed out of the bone-chilling rain. We got up there in the rain and the wind and… nothing. We saw nothing at all… Bloody jokers, those Belgians ! We came back down to the gîte in the rain. We picked up our bags and continued the 3-hour descent in the rain… It was a complete mess. Gwen fell ill after that. Two years ago, we went to Mafate and the climb back up was terrible: 5 hours in the rain, wading through pools of mud and trying to keep our balance on slippery stones…



In short, I was a bit apprehensive about the poor weather conditions for this walk. On the D day, it rained in Saint-Denis. It rained during the 2-hour drive to the start of the trail. Fortunately, at the start, the pass we were going over was damp, but there was no rain. Just fog. I know the weather conditions here and I know that we’re going to start walking at an altitude of 2,000 m and descend to Aurère, which is 900 m above sea level. So the weather is going to get better ! And so it did. The walk was magnificent, with breathtaking scenery ! Apparently the Scout trail that takes us to Aurere is considered to be the most beautiful on the island. The cirque of Mafate is a hiker’s paradise. It’s a magnificent place with hundreds of kilometres of hiking trails. After spending a night there, the climb back up the next day was very hard on the calves and thighs. My sister, who wanted to do the hike with us, pushed herself to the limit to get there. She has knee problems and is slightly overweight. But she managed ! We nicknamed her ” Golden Calf ” ! The ascent was made under a magnificent sun.



Most of the photos were taken with my smartphone. I realised that it was simpler and that I needed the ultra-wide angle to capture the beauty of the place. My Ricoh GRD IV must have a field of view of around 74°, whereas my One Plus Nord has a field of view of around 120°!



Later in the week, we went to visit a lava tunnel with the children. From the road, we could see the actual lava flow. The volcano has been experiencing its first eruption of the year for the past month, and the flow is less than 2 km from the road. We were able to observe the flow from a safe distance, and the glowing lava was even visible! For the visit to the lava tunnel, I opted for my Ricoh GRD IV with its adapter so that I could have a 21 mm lens with a better field of view. I’ve learnt my lesson from Mafate ! Go wide ! The results weren’t up to scratch. This was due to a flagrant lack of light. This was to be expected in an underground tunnel… I shot at ISO 800 and even then it was complicated.



One thing’s for sure, when there’s very good light, by which I mean sunshine, the smartphone with its tiny sensor like the Ricoh GRD IV does perfectly well, and frankly the quality is amazing. But as soon as there’s not enough light, the smartphone uses all sorts of tricks to give you a photo that’s pleasing to the eye, but when you look closer, it’s a mess of pixels. You realise that the algorithms are smoothing everything out (wax effect for the skin) to fill in the missing or degraded pixels. The Ricoh GRD IV does a much better job of this. There’s no contest ! You’ll get some noise and grain (digital), but not the shapeless swill of smartphones. So yes, smartphone photos are catchier, but nothing to do, they’re not up to the level of expert compacts. I think what tends to trick us about quality is the hyper-wide-angle focal length. As we’re not used to seeing this kind of photo, they immediately have a little wow factor. But put an adaptor on the Ricoh GRD IV to get to 21mm, and the effect is the same. The same applies if you mount an ultra-wide-angle lens on a camera ! For each photo, you’ll have the camera information so you can make up your own mind. Here’s even a comparison of 100% enlarged photos.



As a bonus, here’s a small macro shot of a shrew on the Scout trail down to Aurère. Just to show you that when the beast isn’t moving fast, I’m not as one-armed as all that!



So these are our adventures on Réunion Island ! It’s an island bursting with things to do. Do you know of places with lush vegetation, beaches, hundreds of kilometres of hiking trails, breathtaking waterfalls, a volcano that’s still active and hundreds of whales that come during the austral winter ? All this on an island of just 2500 km² ! Frankly, there’s a lot to do and we haven’t even got round to it yet ! Here’s a video I saw recently on Arte that made me say : “Wow Gwen, we should go there !”



  All the photos were made with the Ricoh GRD IV and the One Plus Nord.

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4 thoughts on “Holiday Part 2

    • Jeff Chane-Mouye Post author

      You’re welcome here! Grab a ticket and come to visit me! I’ll take you to the boring empty streets of Saint Denis! 🙂
      Yeah I’ m the kind of thinking that the grass is greener elsewhere!

  • John Harper

    I know an island that has plenty of rain and fog, not the rest though!
    Wow! What an adventure, you’re quite the action man! The boys must love it. So many memories being made; well done to you and Gwen for making it all possible. Your island is absolutely beautiful.
    I’m about to write a sort of holiday blog from our last trip. I’m certain it’s wasn’t on this level.

    • Jeff Chane-Mouye Post author

      Ah ah. Yep another kind of island but you’ve got plenty of beautiful stuff on yours as well!
      I’m not the kind of going somewhere and staying at the hotel. Gwen likes that. I don’t. I want to visit, I want to hike, to do anything. Not being still. But we have to mix everything to content everyone and i’m fine with that. But something is sure, I prefer sweating on a trail rather than sweating under the sun on a beach! Waiting for your Türkiye blog. But I must confess that I ‘ve already seen some photos on Facebook and man, they are great!