François Leguat Reserve

Top choice in Rodrigues

In 1691 François Leguat wrote that there were so many tortoises on Rodrigues that 'one can take more than a hundred steps on their shell without touching the ground'. Sadly the Rodrigues version of the giant tortoise became extinct, but this reserve is recreating the Eden described by the island's early explorers. Hundreds of tortoises from elsewhere (the outcome of a breeding program) roam the grounds, and more than 100,000 indigenous trees have been planted. Cave visits are also possible.

In the caves, spirited tour leaders point out quirky rock shapes and discuss the island's interesting geological history. Keep an eye out for the tibia bone of a solitaire bird that juts from the cavern's stone ceiling.

There's also a small enclosure with several giant fruit bats (the island's only endemic mammal) and a handful of recently arrived, critically endangered ploughshare tortoises from Madagascar. The on-site museum recounts the history and settlement of the island, with detailed information about the extinct Rodrigues solitaire, cousin of the dodo.

The reserve is in the island's southwest and is poorly signposted off the main road around 1.5km northeast of the airport.