Reunion island: the volcano Le Piton de la Fournaise
January 1, 1970
Have you heard about it ? it’s a little french island, lost in the middle of the Indian Ocean (I let you look for it on the map). This island came out of the water 3 millions years ago. Nowadays, it’s a paradise, with amazing landscapes: lagoons of crystal clear water, astonishing coral reef with colorful fishes, wales and dolphins. Mountain reliefs, rivers and waterfalls , exotic birds and endemic spiecies…Between land and sea, nature lovers are gonna enjoy it.
Not only Reunion island has a wealth fauna and flora, but an incredible culture with nice people too. When you start an adventure in this island, you come out change.
Le Piton de la Fournaise a must-see spot !
But first things first ! Le Piton de la Fournaise. One fo the most acitve volcano in the world. 2631 meters, erupting several times a year. 500 000 years of aged, it is classified in the world cultural heritage of Unesco. Being able to see the nature in all its glory. Feeling the ground rumbled under your feet, starring at the explosion of the incandescent lava. This lava, which seems to be made of molten gold and pure light, rushes down the earth. Do you see the picture in your mind ? This is definitely a must-see spot !
Let’s have a journey in volcanic lands !
Located in the south of the island, the lava flows built the landscape and gain ground on the sea. It created black sandy beaches with fine and very hot sand (watch out your feet !). The most well-known is “Etang-Salé”, a fishing village, where locals enjoy a family picnic all along the beach or under casuarinas trees (but this is another story I’ll tell you about it).
a real pilgrimage
The best thing to do this walk is in the morning to have a clear lookout. But before reaching the top of the volcano, you have a long travel to make full of danger, so get prepared. Pack your things, a piece of sweetpotatoes cake for the road (a local speciality), bring your courage with you, and your friends too. Be respectful of the place (no rubbish left…) and try to not wake the volcano up, it is really moody.
First, you have to cross an astonishing lunar and dry lands. Then, the climb of the volcano is like a pilgrimage. You walk step by step on a waste-land in a strange atmosphere. More the time flies and more the walk seems to be with no end. When the weather starts to get worse, the wind smashes your face without rest. If you don’t pay attention, the sun will burn your skin. Follow the tracks or you risk to fall in a hole down. When you start to give up, you finally reach the top. And you are not disappointed by the travel. You can see the huge crater, make you feel a little bit dizzy. You better be not scared of heights. The 360° view takes your breath away: between basalt cliffs, the green of the lush vegetation and the blue of the ocean. and here you say “this walk totally worth it !”. We don’t see a volcano every day, don’t we ?
Gathered face to the beauty of the nature
Or you can do this walk by night. When the beast is awake…It is very cold in this area during the night, so you have to wear proper clothes, and don’t forget to bring a flashlight. Let’s go for this crazy adventure !
When the volcano is erupting, “l’enclos Fouqué” is closed of course. But you can stop the car at “Pas de Bellecombe” and go for a little walk. There is marks you can follow, it’s harder during the night and you can get lost easily if you don’t pay attention. Watch your step, you can twist your ankle on a stupid little rock or fall on a hole. Sometimes, you can meet locals with a guitare in the hand, walking in flip-flop and without any light. Strange huh !? When you arrive the closest you can be without breaking the law, get prepared for the show. You can hear the volcano rumbling. You can see the lava coming out of the top and rushing down the volcano very slowly. In front of that, you are speechless and get the goose bumps for sure. You feel even close to the people,that you don’t know, sharing this moment in a guitar tune. Gathered to face the nature. Sometimes, some clouds come to hide the volcano, as if it decides the show is over. And to convince you to leave, the rain starts to fall down. On the way back, you can medidate on this magic picture.
a few tips
The volcanic lands offer you hundreds of marked trails, such as “Piton de l’Eau” the unique volcanic lac of the island, or “le tunnel de lave”, visiting with a speleologist… The best thing to do is to go straignt away in the area and see what do you wan to do. The walks are very well indicated.
You can also explore “la Plaine des Sables” by bike, or by segway for more fun. If you feel like to have an aerial point of view, think about helicopter. And for horse lovers, you can gallop on this impressive red desert and feel the speed and the freedom in front of this huge outer space.
There is lodges to offer you meals and a shelter for the night.
- gîte Marmite Lontan
- gîte du Volcan
- Ecuries des Alizés for horseriding. Located in “la plaine des Cafres”. A very nice couple manage this stable, they organise weekend of horseriding to go to the volcano.
- Takamaka adventure. The guy is very profesional, he can help you discover the island.
This is the end of our little adventure for today. Book a ticket for Reunion island, now you know its location ! I’ll be happy to tell you more about this little beauty in next articles.