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I spent the past week darting around the Indian Ocean. I love the obscure, and to confess, I was ‘country’ collecting for the Travelers Century Club.
- Comoros Islands (UN member)
- Mayotte (French Overseas Department)
- Madagascar (UN Member)
- Mauritius (UN Member)
- Rodrigues (semi-autonomous island of Mauritius)
- Réunion (French Overseas Department)
The Indian Ocean is an expensive place to travel. Flights are few and mostly on expensive regional airlines like Air Austral. Of the major alliances, SkyTeam is strongest, with Air France and Kenya Airways having a number of flights in the region. Air France partners with Air Mauritius and it is possible to redeem for Air Mauritius flights, though intra-Africa awards are costly.
This trip was last minute and I spent a lot more than I wanted. I went through many iterations of the schedule and only nailed it down the day before departure. The difficulty of confirming flights and even if some airlines exist was nail-biting throughout.
Why do it now? If Delta moves to revenue-based awards these fights, even in economy, will be prohibitively expensive.
The base was a Delta open jaw award for 80,000 miles + $271.70, from New York to Moroni, Comoros and back from Réunion. Island hopping from there was on pricey regional airlines. Award options were limited, costly and time-consuming. For instance, a Delta intra-Africa award would have been 60,000 miles plus overnight layovers in Nairobi to get connections.
I had one week and six destinations so blasted through as directly as possible.
To offset meal costs, I kept hotels as simple as possible, and meals generally under $10.
- Delta flight New York JFK – Amsterdam (overnight), took this instead of Friday morning because needed to work Friday daytime
- Kenya Airways flight Amsterdam to – Nairobi (overnight)
- Kenya Airways connection to Moroni, Comoros
- Hotel Les Arcades ($55)
- Slept 15 hours from 3 pm
- Dawn walk of Moroni, blazing hot by 7 am
- Tour of Grand Comore by local guide Chauffera ($83)
- Ewa Airways flight Moroni – Mayotte ($397)
- L’Horizon Mayotte ($75) – highly recommended
- Morning walk of Mayotte
- Air Madagascar flight Mayotte – Antananarivo, Madagascar ($380.99)
- Morning trip to UNESCO-listed Royal Hill of Ambohimanga ($30 including airport drop-off)
- Air Mauritius flight to Mauritius ($776.52, including subsequent flight to/from Rodrigues and on to Réunion
- Budget rental car ($52)
- Le Bambou Guest House ($30)
- Dinner at Chinese restaurant that gave me bad allergic reaction
- Morning drive around Maurtius including UNESCO-listed Aapravasi Ghat and Le Morne Cultural Landscape
- Air Mauritius flight to Rodrigues
- Ti Pavillon ($105 including roundtrip airport transfers)
- Air Mauritius flight to Réunion via Mauritius
- Enterprise rental car ($56)
- Drive to Hell Bourg and UNESCO-listed Pitons, cirques and remparts of Réunion Island
- Air France flight from Réunion to Paris Orly (overnight) (note: originally I was going to stay to the next day however award space never opened on the night flight and taking the morning flight meant a night in Réunion plus a night in Paris so I moved up my departure; plus Réunion is just a big French suburb with brutal heat)
- Delta flight Paris CDG to New York JFK
- I slept
Do I recommend these places? Except for Madagascar, not really.
Mauritius as a beach destination is worth maybe a 5-hour flight. Mayotte and Réunion have resorts that cater to French-speakers but nothing stellar. Rodrigues is a place to chill and not much else. Comoros is rough-going.
The climate in Comoros and Mayotte in particular is hot to a whole new level. I felt like an ant under a magnifying glass.
Madagascar has great nature and great food, it’s fatal flaw is infrastructure and traffic. Sitting for hours in gridlock without a working A/C is not pleasant and no vehicle seems to have a working A/C. With the right planning a Madagascar trip can be wonderful.