In the heart of the Indian Ocean, at latitude 19°43’ S and longitude 63°25’ E, Rodrigues Island stretches over a surface area of 108 km2. Some 650 km to the north-east of Mauritius, it is the part of Africa that is closest to Australia. Born from volcanic activity between 1.3 and 1.5 million years ago, the island – 18 km long, 8 km wide – is the smallest of the Mascarene archipelago.
The island enjoys a tropical climate with temperatures varying between 28 and 35°C during the Southern summer, which coincides with the cyclonic season (November to April) and between 18 and 27°C in winter. South-east trade winds bring an invigorating drizzle during the “cold” season. The rainy season is rejuvenating, turning drained rivers into unsuspected torrents gushing down to the sea, at times transforming into spectacular but ephemeral waterfalls.
Some 20 coral islets bearing such evocative names as Gombrani, L’Hermitage and Ile aux Chats nestle in the lagoon, mainly towards the south and north-east. Some of them, namely Ile aux Cocos and Ile aux Sables, are renowned bird sanctuaries.