The 'Grande Traversée'

The rugged island of la Réunion emerged from the Indian Ocean in a volcanic eruption around 3 million years ago. The erosion-battered island offers hikers sublime landscapes to enjoy and crossing Réunion Island is without a doubt one of the most beautiful treks in the world. Water carved the volcanic rock into pitons, cirques and gorges, all set in steep ramparts. From 'Brûlé' to 'Basse Vallée', crossing the cirques of Salazie, Mafate and Cilaos, witness day after day, the beauty of Réunion Island as you conquer the 'Grande Traversée'.  11 days of hiking a mythical trail in the tropics - a trip designed to delight trekking fans.

Itinerary

  • Day 1 St-Denis

    Welcome to Réunion Island! Meet your group and guide at St-Denis. Evening meal at leisure.

    Accommodation: Hôtel

  • Day 2 Le Brûlé - Plaine des chicots

    Le Brûlé - Plaine des chicots Morning transfer by private minubus to Le Brûlé and preparation time. Departure to the starting point of our hike, les Hauts de Saint Denis (1180 m). We are soon surrounded by lush vegetation and follow a small path through the rainforest to the Plaine des Chicots gîte (1800m).

    2 - 3 hours of walking
    Elevation: +660m/-35m
    Accommodation: Gîte
    Night without luggage - you will be reunited with your bags on day 4.

  • Day 3 Roche Ecrite - Cirque de Salazie - Grand Ilet

    Roche Ecrite - Cirque de Salazie - Grand Ilet Today begins with a climb to the Roche Ecrite viewpoint at 2277 m - a rugged peak which dominates the cirques of Mafate and Salazie. From here we should have a spectacular view of the Cirque de Mafate, the Cirque de Salazie and the Piton des Neiges. Next, we begin a long, abrupt descent to the village of Grand Ilet. The steep path is equipped with handrails and stunning views.

    6 hours of walking
    Elevation: +580m/-1260m
    Accommodation: Local gite
    Night without luggage - you will be reunited with your bags tomorrow.

  • Day 4 Mafate: Sentier Scout - Grand Place

    Mafate: Sentier Scout - Grand Place Luggage collection and preparation time. Short transfer by bus to the Scout footpath. From here we enter the Cirque de Mafate by foot, an area which was historically a refuge during times of slavery. Our trail today is cloaked in history; we travel through thick vegetation rich with native, endemic flora and fauna and cross multiple rivers and bridges.

    6 hours of walking
    Elevation: +570m/-1460m
    Accommodation: Gîte
    You will be reunited with bags today and then part with them once again. You will next be reunited with your bags in Cilaos on day 7.

  • Day 5 Mafate: Grand Place - Roche Plate

    Mafate: Grand Place - Roche Plate Early morning departure for a long day of walking. Today we progress into the heart of the Cirque de Mafate. Enjoy shelter from the high cliffs and superb views of the surrounding peaks. Today we pass several ilets, small hamlets, which give us insight as to what it is like to live in the nature here in the roadless part of Réunion Island.

    7 hours of walking
    Elevation: +1100m/-770m
    Accommodation: Gîte
    Night without luggage - you will be reunited with your bags in Cilaos.

  • Day 6 Mafate: Trois Roche - Marla

    Mafate: Trois Roche - Marla Discover Trois Roches and a surprising waterfall top view of the river and its distant, inaccessible waterfalls. With this angle overlooking the riverbed it is easy to imagine how the stream can transform into a torrent during cyclonic flood. Explore volcanic features at the base of a 1000m cliff which forms the cirque and follow the riverbed up to the delightful settlement of Marla (1630m). This route involves crossing the river two or three more times.

    6 hours of walking
    Elevation: +860m/-330m
    Accommodation: Gîte
    Night without luggage - you will be reunited with your bags tomorrow.

  • Day 7 Col de Taibit - Cirque de Cilaos

    Col de Taibit - Cirque de Cilaos Today we hike through the col du Taïbit (2083m), the passage which links the Cirque de Mafate to the Cirque de Cilaos. The views from up here do not disappoint, on a clear day you can expect a spectacular display of the surrounding cirques, the south coast and Grand Bénare volcanic peak. The route continues down through the thick vegetation of the 'Bois des Couleurs' to Cilaos. From here, it is a 15 minute local bus to our hotel accommodation.

    3 - 4 hours of walking
    Elevation: +500m/-880m
    Accommodation: Hôtel 3*
    Your bags will be waiting for you.

  • Day 8 Cilaos - Refuge du Piton des Neiges

    Cilaos - Refuge du Piton des Neiges The shaded path up to tonights refuge is steep. Along the way there are many beautiful view points to admire Cilaos from. The climb continues up to rewarding views and around 2500m of altitude where our accommodation awaits...

    3 to 4 hours of walking
    Elevation: +1100m/-50m
    Accommodation: Refuge
    Night without luggage - you will be reunited with your bags tomorrow.

  • Day 9 The Piton des Neiges - Plaine des Cafres

    The Piton des Neiges - Plaine des Cafres Nightime departure for the summit of the Piton des Nieges at 3070m above sea level, the highest point in the Indian Ocean. The views from here are truly amazing and, as your surroundings are illuminated by the first glow of the morning sun, we are sure you will agree that this is a very special place. Return to the refuge for breakfast. Todays route then continues down to the muddy Mare à Boue, along the passage of the eery la Caverne Bras Chansons to the enchanting Piton Tortue and lush green pastures below (amazing for these latitudes). Short transfer from Bourg Murat to our accommodation in la Plaine des Cafres.

    8 to 9 hours of walking
    Elevation: +730m/-1800m
    Accommodation: Gîte
    Your lugagge will be waiting for you.

  • Day 10 Plaine des Cafres - Gîte du Volcan

    Plaine des Cafres - Gîte du Volcan Today we leave the lush green pastures of the Plaine des Cafres and head to a totally different natural environment via the Plaine des Sables. This plateau was formed by a volcanic eruption roughly 1000 years ago and has an alien, desert-like feel to it. Journey into a volcanic world of red ochre tephra as we head to the Gîte du Volcan (Volcano Lodge).

    4 hours of walking
    Elevation: +350m/-250m
    Accommodation: Gîte
    Journey time: 30 minutes
    Your lugagge will be waiting for you.

  • Day 11 The Piton de la Fournaise

    The Piton de la Fournaise Today we are in for a treat exploring one of the most active volcanoes in the world, the Piton de la Fournaise. Climb the main crator and discover a rich world of strange colours, surprising minerals and warped shapes with fumaroles and sulphur revealing glimpses of the intense activity of this unique sheild volcano.

    5 to 6 hours of walking
    Elevation: +630m/-630m
    Accommdoation: Gîte
    Your lugagge will be waiting for you.

  • Day 12 Gîte du volcan - Basse Vallée - Saint Gilles

    Gîte du volcan - Basse Vallée - Saint Gilles Our last hike heads around the volcano and down to the coast through the rainforest. Walk along the caldera with its numerous viewpoints of the volcanic surroundings and contrasting bright blue ocean before diving into the rainforest. From mineral rich rocky ridges to the dense flora and fauna of the tropical forest, this is a fine trek to end the trip showcasing Réunion Islands striking contrasts. Transfer to Saint-Gilles to finish, dinner at leisure.

    8 hours of walking
    Elevation: +200m/-1780m
    Transport: Minibus
    Accommodation: Hôtel

  • Day 13 St-Gilles

    End of trip.

The details in this indicative programme are updated regularly but imponderables and unpredictable circumstances may result in inaccuracies. In order to provide the adventure which is best suited to your demands, the weather and the operational conditions, changes to the programme may be made. For safety reasons, we reserve the rights to interrupt your participation in this programme at any time if your technical level or fitness are deemed unsuitable or if you are seen as a danger to yourself or to those around you. This will in no case give rise to refunds or compensation.

Dates & prices

Departures for English-speaking groups:

No departure for now

Trip code: QREU-EN

Included

  • Full supervision by an expert qualifed guide
  • 9 nights gîte accommodation with shared facilities
  • 3 nights hotel accommodation
  • Full board from breakfast Day 2 to lunch Day 12
  • All in-country transfers as detailed in the itinerary
  • Luggage transportation as detailed in itinerary
  • Secure baggage storage

Not included

  • Meals on Day 1 & dinner on Day 12
  • International flights
  • Repatriation insurance

Additional Options
Small group option for 2-3 participants: prices vary

Terms and conditions

Booking conditions

Booking a trip with us implies acceptance of the terms and conditions of sale. Each customer is required to complete a registration form and, subject to availability at the time of registration, travellers are expected to pay a deposit of 30% of the total price to complete their booking. You will then receive an e-mail with your booking confirmation. In case of late bookings – within 30 days prior to the travel departure date – the full travel price is due immediately. Payments can be settled via bank transfer or made online on our website. You will receive an email with a booking confirmation as quickly as possible.

Invoice procedure

Once your booking is registered, you will receive an email with the invoice. Full payment is required at least 30 days before the departure date. If this payment is not settled within the period agreed upon, Altaï Réunion reserves the right to cancel your registration without compensation.

Cancellation policy

If for any reason you have to cancel your trip, we require written confirmation of your decision so please contact us by e-mail, fax or letter. The money you have paid will then be refunded according to the following deductions:
  • Cancellation received more than 30 days prior to the departure date: No cancellation fees.
  • Cancellation received 30 to 21 days before the departure date: 30% of trip price will be retained.
  • Cancellation received within 20 days of the departure date: 70% of trip price will be retained.
Please note if you decide to cancel your trip having agreed, in writing, to pay for additional tailor-made services (hotel, additional flights or activities...), these services are usually non-refundable.
If we have to cancel a departure due to an insufficient number of participants, you will be informed no later than 21 days before departure and a full refund will be issued, you will not be entitled to further compensation. We reserve the rights to cancel departures due to exceptional circumstances which may impact the safety of participants. Such circumstances may include those amounting to 'force majeure' in which case participants will receive a full refund but they will not be entitled to any compensation.

Changes to travel contract

If you wish to make a change to your booking please contact us in writing; you will be expected to pay any fee which might arise from this change. In the event of unforeseen external events, Altaï Réunion may change some aspects of the travel contract. If any changes are necessary you will be informed as quickly as possible.

Pricing

The prices on our website are updated regularly. Our advertised group travel prices have been calculated in accordance with the indicated number of participants for each trip. We reserve the rights to make changes to any of our prices if neccessary, for example in case of exchange rate changes or modifications in fuel costs. Before you make a booking we will give you the up-to-date price of your chosen holiday including any supplements, upgrades, additional activities and/or facilities you have requested. A small group surcharge may be applied if the total number of participants is less than indicated. For each trip, the price per person valid for the minimum number of participants is outlined as is a detailed explanation of the services included/not.

Contract transfer

If you are unable to travel for any reason, you can transfer your booking to another person in which case our modification conditions apply. Both the transferor and transferee will be jointly and severally liable for payment of the total holiday price and other associated expenses. Some airline carriers treat name changes as cancellations and you may be required to pay for the cost of a new ticket.

Insurance

We strongly recommend that you take out personal travel insurance for your trip with Altaï Réunion as soon as your booking is confirmed. We advice you to purchase a travel insurance policy which covers flight cancellations, luggage loss and emergency health care. Please look carefully at which activities are covered by your insurer and do not forget to bring all necessary documents and information with you (name of the company, name of the contract, insurance policy number, telephone number...)

Practical info

Staff

Armed with an abundance of experience and a wealth of knowledge, our professional guides are all experts in their domaine. Our qualified leaders are all English speaking, all practicing outdoor practitioners and they are all besotted the magnificent Réunion Island. Your guide will be assisted by one of Altaï Réunions trusty drivers, responsible for transfers and luggage transportation.

Food

Breakfasts:
Continental style breakfasts are served at your accommodation each morning. You can expect tea, coffee, fruit juice, bread, butter, jam and maybe meats and cheeses.
Lunches:
Picnic lunches will be provided each day. These will include fresh seasonal produce, cheese, meat, salad and fruit. Please be aware that you will be expected to carry your lunch and water with you each day.
Dinners:
Hot, hearty, home cooked meals of local cuisine are served at your accommodation. Supplies in this remote area are delivered by helicopter so evening meals may not vary greatly but you sure to love the mix of French, Indian, Chinese and African flavours that is Creole cuisine. The traditional dish is a curry with tomatoes, onions, garlic, ginger and spices served with either chicken, duck or fish and accompanied by rice, grains (beans or lentils) and rougail, a spicy condiment flavoured with tomato, lemon and pistachio.
Drinks:
Drinks, including mineral water, can be purchased at your own expense. Options include local rums, beer or fruit juice. The rum is made by soaking fruits, aromatic herbs and spices in white rum and are served as an aperitif before dinner or as a digestive after a hearty meal. A beer called Dodo is brewed by the same local company and you will have the chance to try succulent fruit juice, freshly made from seasonal fruit.

Please let us know about any dietary requirements when you book the trip and we will work with you to cater for your needs.

Accommodation

Usually our travellers sleep in mountain accommodation with shared bathroom facilities and dormitories of 4 to 10 people (with the exception of one dorm. in a refuge at the Piton des Neiges which sleeps 8 to 16 people). Hot showers are not always free, notably in the Piton de la Fournaise area where water is a rare commodity or in the refuge at the Piton des Neiges where there is no running water.
This trip also includes 2* and 3* hotels for some nights to maximise your comfort.

Transportation

In-country travel and baggage transfer by private minibus.
Due to the absence of roads on Réunion Island, you may not see your larger bags and have to keep your important personal belongings on you for one or more days. This is notably the case when crossing the cirque de Mafate of climbing the Piton des Neiges.

Budget & exchange

The currency is the Euro, € (EUR)
Visit http://www.xe.com for the latest currency converter and exchange rates. You can withdraw euros from in-country ATMs and credit cards are widely accepted except in isolated areas like small villages or mountain refuges which are generally cash only.
Please budget for drinks, tips and other personal expenses. Please be aware that hot showers are not always free.

Tips

Although the custom is not widespread here, tipping is always appreciated - it is not obligatory and should be left to the discretion of each individual.

Vital equipment

From head to toe:
  • A cap or sunhat
  • 1 or 2 sets of thermals: long-sleeved thermal tops and full-length long johns
  • Long sleeved and short sleeved t-shirts, preferably in quick-drying technical material
  • 1 light fleece or equivilent (plus extra warm layers for austral winter months)
  • A breathable wind proof, waterproof jacket (Gore-Tex...)
  • Lightweight waterproof over trousers
  • 1 pair of long suitable shorts
  • 1 pair of walking trousers (detachable legs ideal)
  • A pair of high-rise walking boots with vibram soles - Réunions trails can be rocky and muddy (or appropriate trail running shoes)
  • A pair of trainers or equivilent casual shoes for the evenings
  • Thick walking socks
  • Warm gloves, hat and scarf (forJune - September trips and those which climb up to the cirques or high mountains)
  • A swimsuit

Helpful equipment

  • Sleeping bag liner. Sheets and blankets are provided except in the refuge at Piton des Neiges where there are only blankets
  • A tupperware box or bowl and cutlery for picnics
  • Your personal toiletries - think to use as many biodegradable products as possible.
  • Fast-drying microfibre towel
  • Water bottle(s). Min. 2 litres, light and isothermal
  • A good pair of sunglasses (think min. category 3)
  • Sun-cream, face and lips
  • Head torch and spare batteries
  • A pocket knife
  • A pair of hiking poles
  • A waterproof bag cover (or plastic bags) to protect your belongings

Luggage

Your luggage must be divided into two bags:
  • A rucksack (35-40L or 45-50L) for use as a day bag. This will contain your (vital) personal belongings for the day, or sometimes for several days.
  • A larger bag (60-80L) containing the rest of your belongings, those which you do not need with you in the day. This bag will be transported by our driver to your accommodation each day. Sometimes, as detailed in your itinerary, you will not see this bag for one or more nights. Please bring is a soft bag like a ruckack or holdall rather than a hard cased suitcase because it is more practical for our drivers.

Medicine

Your guide is a trained first-aider and will carry a full first aid kit at all times during the trip. We recommend that you bring a small personal first aid kit containing any medication you may need such as inhalers, plasters, antiseptic and painkillers.

Passport

To go to Réunion Island travellers may need a passport which is vaild for at least three months after the last day of their stay, EU travellers may use passports/ID cards valid only for the duration of their stay.  It is your responsibility to confirm your specific passport requirements and please be aware that proof of onwards travel may be required.

Visa

Most travellers staying less than 3 months in Réunion Island do not need to obtain a visa. It is your responsibility to confirm your specific visa requirements.

Mandatory vaccines

No mandatory vaccinations are required. Recommended vaccines include Hepatitus and Typhoid.

Health information & recommendations

It is your responsibility to check that your personal health insurance covers everything in this trip. A consultation with your doctor is a prerequisite for any trip. 

Weather

Réunion Island has a tropical climate with two different seasons: The cool, dry austral winter from April to September and the austral summer from October to Mars, the hot, humid season.
April to June - temperatures remain a comfortable average of 20°C during the day and 10°C at night. It is at this time that the flora and fruits are at their most bountiful.
July to September - temperatures are cooler and perfect for hikers who suffer in the heat. It is on average 16-20°C during the day and at night, temperatures drop much lower, often below 0°C. It is not uncommon to see snow on the Piton des Neiges.
October to December - average temperatures are around 25°C in the day and 18°C at night.
January to Mars - the hurricane season which brings heavy rainfall and trekking is disrupted.

Electricity

European-style plugs with two round pins. Voltage is normally 220/240 V, 50 Hz. Please be aware that some mountain huts use solar electricity which is only 24V and very limited when it comes to charging batteries.

Local time

Réunion Island uses the Réunion time zone (RET). Coordinated Universal Time (UTC)/ Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) +4. Daylight Saving Time (DST) is not observed here.

Topography

Surface area: 2,512 km²
Population: Nearly 850,000 inhabitants
Currency: The Euro
Status: French overseas region and Special Member of the European Union
Religions: 72% Catholic. Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist religions are also popular.
Language: French and Créole
Fun fact: More than 40% of Réunion Island is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Sustainable tourism

Altaï always aims to have as little impact on the environment as possible. As adventure and wilderness travel experts who run trips to some of the most remote parts of the world, we take responsible tourism very seriously.

Since the beginning, we have advocated for responsible tourism and the importance of equitable and sustainable principles. Harmonising these fundamentals ensures a fair distribution of economic benefits, improved working conditions for local teams and an increased awareness of the importance and practice of environmental protection.

We kindly request that you adopt the following simple actions when travelling with Altaï Réunion in order to support our ethical, sustainable and responsable tourism policies:
  • Avoid dropping litter - use bins or carry your rubbish with you.
  • Use drinking water sparingly - avoid wasting water, take showers not baths, report leaks, etc..
  • Support the preservation of cultural sites - resist the temptation to touch statues, moves stones etc..
  • Exchanges are prefarable to donations - generations gifts can destabalize the local economic balance.
  • When walking, be aware of fragile ecosystems, observe wildlife from a distance, stick to trails, limit trampling and do not steal from the nature - resist the temptation to pick flowers, collect fossils or stones...
  • Some hotels have air conditioning - to avoid excessive energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, please use sparingly and remember to cut the aircon when you are not in the room.
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Didier

My local agent
Didier

  • Native to Réunion Island
  • Higher Diploma in Tourism Management & Engineering
  • Qualified mountain guide
  • Diving instructor
  • Known ambassador for cultural heritage
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Region
Cilaos Mafate Piton de la Fournaise Piton des Neiges Salazie
Activity
Hiking
Duration
13 days
Group
4 to 12 people
Code
QREU-EN
Price
From €1,725
Level
4/5
Comfort
3/5
Language(s)
English

Strengths

  • Complete the legendary 'Grande Traversée' trek
  • Relax and enjoy our smooth logistics and quality guided hikes
  • Discover the three cirques: Mafate, Cilaos and Salazie
  • Climb the Piton de La Fournaise volcano
  • Summit the highest point in the Indian Ocean, the Piton des Neiges
The 'Grande Traversée'

Required level

A good level of fitness and good quality hiking equipment are required for this trip. The tropical climate and rugged terrain of this volcanic island can present challenges. Regular sport in the run up to your trip is recommended. Average walking times 6 to 7 hours a day; average elevations, +/-1000m a day.
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