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Reviewed 12 January 2015

Reunion is a very real slice of France in the Indian Ocean so if your french is a bit rusty best to read this and get yourself familiar with Claus and Cristina at Gandalfs Safari Camp! Claus and Cristina (originally from Germany so speak German, French and English) are absolutely wonderful hosts with a true and honest approach to hospitality. Their B&B is located on the South West side of the island in Manapany Les Bains about 5 minutes walk to the beach (with a natural 'grannies' pool where you can swim without fear of sharks). The rooms are compact but nicely decorated. I loved the fact each room had a theme; we stayed in the Arabian room overlooking the garden. All of the rooms are upstairs. Please note the toilet and shower are INSIDE the room with almost no privacy so unless you are a couple or very close friends you may find it a bit uncomfortable. The house has a self catering kitchen downstairs (outdoors) and this is also where the full continental breakfast is served (endless fresh fruit, bread, cereal and a dozen spreads. Coffee, tea and juice – delicious!). There is a small book exchange library and free DVDs for those lazy evenings after hiking and exploring.

The truly special thing about Gandalf's is Claus's advice and wealth of knowledge of the island (in a language we could understand!). It added immense value to our trip. We originally emailed Claus in September (3 months before our trip) regarding accommodation availability which he confirmed in a timely manner. He then assisted us with answers and options to A LOT of questions that we had about the island, hiking routes, organising gites, booking car hire and transfers. He was a pleasure to deal with and we were glad to have honest, helpful assistance in English prior to booking the trip.

On arrival Claus collected us from the airport and transferred us to the accommodation (2 hours along a good highway). Cristina organised a homely dinner for us on as it was New Years Day and nothing else was open so we were very grateful. Each day they provided us with options of sights and excursions suitable for the weather forecast (please note the weather on the island is very unpredictable), even lending us his maps to use as the information centre shop was closed over the weekend. Claus booked our rafting trip for us in Saint Benoit and gave us advice about a rainforest walk to do while driving across the island to the East coast. He also pre-booked our gites (mountains huts) for us during our cirques hike at no extra charge and confirmed everything on arrival with vouchers which we had no issues using while in the remote villages. He transferred us to the start of our hike in Cilaos (up a thousand turns and twists) and collected us from the top of Maido at the end with our 1 suitcase we left with him while hiking (this was one of the problems we couldn’t seem to solve while trying to figure out an itinerary on the island that could include exploration, hiking and beach days with luggage). He organised our car hire (through a company in Saint Joseph) for the first 5 days of exploration and quickly solved the problem when the boot didn’t lock correctly.

We had an amazing time in Reunion and traveled seamlessly around the island with the help of Claus and Cristina. Thanks so much.

Should it possibly help someone I have included our 10 day itinerary. We visited in January 2015, the weather was hot (32 degrees) with high humidity (85%) along the coast but in the cirques it was a pleasant 25 degrees. We spent 5 nights at Gandalfs exploring the southern part of the island (Piton de Fournaise day hike, Cascades de la Grande Ravine on River Langevin, Anse de Cascades near Ste Rose, drove around southern beach route and saw the volcano lava where it meets the sea, rafting in Saint Benoit, Foret de Bebour short walk, Makes viewpoint of the cirques and Saint Pierre for a nice meal). We then hiked for 4 days starting at Cilaos. Day 1: Day trip to La Chappelle river spot and back to Cilaos (4 hours). Day 2: Cilaos to Marla via Col De Taibit (6 hours, incline for 3 hours). Day 3: Marla to Roche Plate via Trois Roches (the best part of the hike if the weather is sunny : 5 hours mainly flat), Day 4: Roche Plate up 900m to the top of Maido Mountain (3 hours steep ascent but very do-able!). Claus collected us from Maido and we then spent 2 days on the northern beaches at Hotel de Recif at I'Hermitage. We went on a helicopter ride with Heliagon (Excellent! – saw Trou de Fer) and visited the lagoon and ate well! De très bonnes vacances!!

We stayed at the following gites:
Cilaos: Gite de la roche merveilleuse, beautiful wooden mountain hut, spacious rooms and great facilities. Highly recommend. Didn’t eat there. On the outer edge of town (about 7 minute walk into the central road). Good for starting the hike to Col De Taibit as route starts from up the hill.

Marla: Gite de Trois Roches, on the outer part of the village with breathtaking views down the ravines. We had a double room with a bathroom (cold shower) but clean and comfortable. More expensive dinner (24 euros). Breakfast was the standard bread stick and jam affairs and coffee/tea for 7 euros.

Roche plate: Ti Kaz Bleu (Axel). We stayed in the brand new double bed cottage which is lovely and had nice views and a beautiful outdoor deck. The dorms are further up the hill and not so great, low ceiling and rather stuffy. Dinner was excellent, Axel doesn’t live onsite and brings the dinner (and breakfast) down to the gites at about 7:30pm. You therefore need to ring him on your arrival to confirm where you are sleeping. Breakfast was standard bread and jam with coffee available in the rooms. The dorms and cottage had self catering kitchens.

Room tip: Arabian room overlooks the garden.
Date of stay: January 2015
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
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6  Thank Kerriden
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Gandalf-Safari-Camp, Owner at Gandalf Safari Camp, responded to this reviewResponded 1 March 2015

Hi Kerriden and Trevor, we have to say a big THANK YOU for your detailed review, that we appreciated a lot. You are just the kind of visitors, that our small Island looks for. Hope to meet you again. Christina & Claus, Gandalf & Eowyn

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 July 2014

We were so satisfied here, it was paradise for us. Kristina and Klaus are very nice people, helpful and kind to us, everything we need they do for us, good advices, recommendetion what to do in Reunion, so we are very happy to be there.
Breakfast unusually rich (not only baguet and jam, but much more), you can also cook for yourself there. Very good place for little children.
We recommend without doubt!

Date of stay: June 2014
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
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3  Thank Petra_Krystof
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Reviewed 21 November 2013

We stumbled upon Gandalf Safari while we were looking for other rooms. We were greeted warmly and immediately felt at home with Christina and Claus. The location is excellent and the rooms are very nice and clean, though basic. Breakfast was always abundant and delicious. Christina and Claus were very helpful with advice and infos about the Island and the surroundings.
We enjoyed our stay there very much. It was certainly the best accommodation we found on La Réunion.

Date of stay: September 2013
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
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2  Thank Marcodal55
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Reviewed 25 October 2012

Having travelled extensively worldwide and stayed in all sorts of accommodation from tents to 5star+ Royal Caribbean cruise liners, Gandalf Safari is undoubtedly the best hospitality I have ever experienced. Klaus (owner) has worked in hospitality all over the world and it certainly showed in his "what more can I do to make my guests time in Reunion unforgettable" attitude.

The rooms at Gandalf are more than we needed, with AC(if needed), shower, Wi-fi in room, TV and more than enough to retire to after a day out. The outdoor camp style sheltered breakfast area downstairs has been hand crafted from mosaic tiles and leads onto long garden with the sea in the yonder. It's hard to believe you in town and tranquil setting and chirping of birds in the garden is certainly something you'd expect in an African Safari Camp.

Klaus has a good understanding of the Islands attractions, mountains and history, which was a tremedous help for us, especially as we were in Reunion for Grand Raid, 170km trail run.... Nothing was too much of an effort, Klaus suggested things to make our stay easier, very thoughtful, knowledgeable and extremely meticulous - to be expected from a German, hehe

Should you go to Gandalf Safari? DEFINITELY!

Room tip: Ask for a sea facing window onto the Garden
Date of stay: October 2012
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
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3  Thank RusandTraceMeyer
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Reviewed 22 July 2012

Cosy bed and breakfast based in the South not far from St Pierre airport.
We stayed for over a week , firstly it was cost effective but the knowledge from the owners was invaluable and something that we found lacking at hotels on previous trips. Claus the owner was even up at 630 to check on the weather at the volcano to see if the trip up was worth it. Breakfast includes a full basket of local tropical fruit every morning. Although we didnt use the facility they have two hardcore 4wd on hand and were available for guided daytrips to the nearby mountain sites or just for dropping of hikers near to the trails. As this was our second trip to the island we found the southern location with a hire car best for most locations. NB if you want sandy beaches you really should be on Mauritius but the local rock pool at Manapany was great for fish watching but do take footwear against anenomes ..the neighbouring Grande Anse does have a sandy beach there but not swimming but its rock pool is very popular with the kids. Finally as i mentioned before if you are not a confident French speaker the owners speak very good English and German and the clientel varied from Swiss, German ,Czech ,Slovak and French while we were there.

Date of stay: July 2012
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3  Thank zavodmiru
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
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