Saturday May 23th to Saturday 30th 2020
Registration is now closed
In 2020, Reunion Island will be pleased to welcome you for the biennial of the IPS. Organized in partnership with Palmeraie-Union society, this event will be one more time an opportunity to gather palm lovers from around the world in an exceptional place. For this 2020 edition, direction towards Reunion Island, a small French island in the southern hemisphere, in the heart of the Indian Ocean, located near Mauritius and the Big Island of Madagascar.
Ideally located in the southwest of the Indian Ocean, the trip in Reunion Island will be an opportunity to participate in the pre and/or post tours that will offer you the possibility to discover Madagascar and/or Mauritius. These 2 destinations are served by daily flights from Reunion (30 minutes flight to Mauritius and 1 hour 30 minutes to Madagascar).
All international airfares, the Réunion-Madagascar and Réunion-Mauritius regional flights and the domestic flights in Madagascar are not included in the tours and will have to be booked separately by participants. These flights can be booked with the Bourbon Voyage travel agency which will be the link with the organization of the biennale in Reunion Island, or book through your own travel agent.
La Reunion island:
Reunion Island is an island of 2500 km² which, due to its subtropical climate and its significant differences in altitude (highest point at 3000 metres), presents very varied landscapes and ecosystems. Its active volcano, the Piton de la Fournaise, regularly experiences lava flows within a volcanic ensemble with an exceptional landscape. The active erosion of the massif has created over time a very rugged terrain consisting of peaks, circuses and ramparts registered with the heritage of UNESCO, a heritage largely protected by the National Park of Reunion which covers 42% of the territory of the island.
Reunion Island is with Mauritius and Rodrigues islands, part of the Mascarene archipelago, a string of volcanic islands far from the continents where a very specific flora with a high rate of endemism has been developed. The diversity of the natural environments of Reunion Island, with very high rainfall and temperature differentials between the east coast with a humid tropical climate and the much drier west coast, and from the coastal fringe to the top of the massifs, is home to very specific vegetation types adapted to these different environments. Reunion Island has more than 350 plants endemic strictly to Reunion Island or more widely to the Mascarene Archipelago. As such, Reunion is recognized as one of the 25 hotspots of global biodiversity. This heritage is particularly fragile and, as elsewhere, has disturbances (urbanization, introduction of exotic species, fires, etc.). Currently, 256 species are considered endangered in Réunion, 30% of its native flora, and 125 of them are critically endangered. Fortunately, the public authorities and many associations are mobilizing for the preservation of this exceptional heritage.
La Reunion’s palms
Palm trees are ubiquitous in public spaces and Reunion gardens and are an integral part of the Creole garden and of the landscapes of the island. Reunion people have for many years introduced many species of palm trees on the island, and many collections, and some of them very old, are exceptionally rich in species diversity of palms. Among them, 6 palm species are endemic to Reunion Island or Mascarenes (in distinct varieties). These species are well known by palm collectors around the world for having been widely disseminated for many years and for being perfectly adapted to many climates and growing media. These species are divided into 4 genera that have developed specifically in the Mascarene archipelago
The genus Acanthophoenix has three species, all naturally present in Reunion island:
- Acanthophoenix crinita is the black palmist of the highlands. Despite poaching, it is still found in large stands in remote, often inaccessible, highland forest areas
- Acanthophoenix rousselii, or Roussel palmist, is present only on the private property of the Roussel family in a place callles le Tampon, hence its name. There are no more than sixty adult individuals.
- Acanthophoenix rubra, or red palmist, has become extremely rare in nature. He is nevertheless considered the king of Reunion palms, being known for the very great taste qualities of his heart, which makes it a widely cultivated palm tree. It’s original habitat is lowland moist forest.
The genus Dictyosperma is known only from one species: Dictyosperma album, which includes several varieties in Reunion, Mauritius and Rodrigues. The variety in Reunion, Dictyosperma album var. album or white palmist, has become very rare in nature. It is a magnificent palm whose legendary resistance to cyclones has earned it the vernacular name of “Hurricane Palm” by Anglo-Saxon people. Its habitat covers semi-dry regions at low and medium altitudes.
The genus Hyophorbe comprises 5 species, only one of which is naturally present in Reunion: Hyophorbe indica is the poisonous palmist or pig palmist. It is quite common in nature. The pulp of the fruit was once consumed by the children. It is found all over the island.
The Latania genus includes three species, one of which is naturally present in Reunion: Latania lontaroides, or red latan, is the emblematic palm of Reunion Island. Its palm leaves are very decorative. It owes its success to its great hardiness and the strong red coloring of its juveniles which is unique in the palm family. Its habitat covers low-lying semi-dry regions.
In Reunion Island, wild palms have become rare, species of the genus Acanthophoenix and Dictyosperma have been decimated for the consumption of their hearts. These species are still largely part of the culinary heritage of the island and are consumed in large quantities, which generates a booming economic activity with the establishment of large plantations and processing units.
*Early Bird Rate (Available to the first 40 Registrants or to September 30th, whichever comes first):
The IPS is also offering some amazing pre-biennial and post-biennial tours:
Madagascar Pre/Post Tours – Click here to view the details.
Mauritius Post Tour – Please click here.
The 2020 Réunion Island Biennial Program:
Tour Operator: Bourbon Tourisme – refer separate Bourbon Tourisme Terms and Conditions and to IPS Participant Agreement which must both be signed and returned to the IPS to participate in the Reunion Biennial.
Day 0 – Friday, May 22nd: Early arrivals
Board members (and early arrivals) arrive in Reunion and transfer on your own to the hotels in Saint Gilles (Lux and Recif hotels). Dinner on your own.
Note this night is NOTincluded in the Biennial Package or the Pre Tour packages and must be separately booked by participants either direct through the hotel, or through your travel agent or on line booking service.
Day 1 – Saturday, May 23th: Welcome to Reunion
This is the arrival day for most members and is the Board Meeting day for Directors, welcome dinner.
You will be met at the airport of Saint-Denis de la Reunion and transferred by bus to your hotel. The 2 selected hotels (Lux and Recif 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 the 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 welcoming evening will be offered in one of the 2 hotels (welcome speech, presentation of the program and also Palms of Reunion, gourmet buffet).
Day 2 – Sunday May 24th: The volcano and the forest of Bélouve
Breakfast at your hotel for a 7am departure. Participants will be split into 2 groups for 2 half day tours meeting up at Creole restaurant in La Plaine des Caffres for lunch. Dinner on your own
- 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 Reunion where you will discover a “forests 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 circus of Salazie below. From Bélouve, different options of walks will be proposed to you according to your desires and your physical condition of the moment, the most motivated ones will reach an incredible point of view on the impressive waterfall “the hole of iron”.
Day 3 – Monday, May 25th: private gardens of Reunion island & a tour of the island by east coast
Breakfast at your hotel for a 9am departure. The participants will be divided into 3 groups, groups 1 and 2 will spend the day visiting 2 private gardens in rotation, and group 3 will take a tour of the island by east coast. Lunch included. Dinner on your own.
- The private gardens of Reunion
This day will be devoted to the visit of 2 private gardens belonging to 2 collectors of palm trees, 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 house of la Reunion and you will be impressed by the rich botanical collections of these gardens: A moment of relaxation and conviviality to meet Reunion 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 classical tourist attractions of Reunion Island in Ste Anne’s Cathedral and East River’s bridge. 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 into 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 reborn. This day of visits will take us to see one of the last wild populations of red latan (Latania lontaroides) on the sea cliffs and will finish with a moment of relaxation on the huge beach of Grand-Anse to enjoy the sunset sun on the Indian Ocean. Back to St Gilles by west Coast.
Day 4 – Tuesday, May 26th: private gardens of Reunion island & the tour of the island by east coast in rotation
Breakfast at your hotel for a 9am departure. The participants will be divided into 3 groups, groups 1 and 2 will take the tour of the island by east coast as above, and group 3 will spend the day visiting the 2 private gardens as above. Lunch included. Dinner included.
Day 5 – Wednesday, May 27th: Free day
Breakfast at your hotel. This is a free day, book your choice of optional activities. Lunch and dinner on your own. For Directors a further Board Meeting at 7:30pm if required.
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, markets or shopping, or choose from many opportunities for optional sightseeing or activities which will be offered, please book these with your biennial registration: Lava flows excursion, Canoe/Rafting, Volcan Piton de la Fournaise tour, Salazie excursion, Diving Experience, visit Private Gardens of members of Palmeraie -Union, Helicopter tour of the island, refer to the Optional Free Day Tours.
Day 6 – Thursday, May 28th: The Tampon Palm Park
Breakfast at your hotel for staged departure in groups for the 10 minute drive to the park, lunch at the park (in association with la commune du Tampon). Dinner on your own.
During this day, you will enjoy the Palm Park at le Tampon, a vast landscaped park of nearly 10 hectares which presents a unique collection of palm trees of about 40 000 subjects gathering 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 the visit of 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 the Palm Park will surely be one of the highlights of this biennale. Finally, in small groups, you will be transferred not far from there for the visit of the only known population of Palmists Roussel (Acanthophoenix rousselii), an endemic species described only in 2006 and which there are only a few dozen individuals left into the wild.
Day 7 – Friday, May 29th: The Wild South
Breakfast at your hotel for 8am departure in 3 or 4 groups. For this last day of your visit, direction to the wild south of the island where several visits will be proposed to you. For the included lunch at a typical creole restaurant, a typical menu will be proposed to you based on heart palms where you will enjoy the Reunion palmists but also other palms grown for their consumption: the Roystonea column palms and the pejibaye (Bactris gasipaes). Gala evening with talks and dinner at the Lux Hotel is included.
- The garden of perfumes and spices
You will discover in this public garden the wonders of Creole garden: a multitude of aromatic plants, four-spice, pepper, nutmeg, cloves at the foot of enormous centenarian mango and litchis 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 undergrowth forest.
- The Mare-Longue Forest
Not far from the garden of perfumes and spices, a small 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 of the island biodiversity that has a significant number of endemic species of trees, ferns, orchids, … In this beautiful forest, you will meet the poisonous palmist Hyophorbe indicain its natural environment.
- Plantation of red palmists
The wild south is the region of the island where are cultivated large plantations of red palmists (Acanthophoenix rubra). 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 heart palms where you will enjoy the Reunion palmists but also other palms grown for their consumption: the Roystoneacolumn palms and the pejibaye (Bactris gasipaes).
In the evening, back to the hotel, you will enjoy a gala evening: conferences, gala dinner and dance party that will end remarkably this magnificent stay in Reunion.
Day 8 – Saturday, May 30th Departure Day
Breakfast at your hotel.
Transfers will be organized to the airport of Saint Denis according to your departure flight schedule.