Trek in the heart of Cirques : des Neiges à la Fournaise !
Day 1 Saint Denis - Hell-Bourg (Cirque de Salazie)
On arrival, we are greeted by our guide at the airport before joining the Cirque de Salazie and the village of Hell-Bourg. At the heart of the cirque, Hell-Bourg is an old spa resort perched at an altitude of 930 m. This picturesque village is renowned for its small pastel houses, the famous Creole huts. It is the only village outside mainland France to benefit from the label of "most beautiful villages in France". We walk there and take advantage of this timeless place where giant bamboos thrive in the heart of lush vegetation. We can then visit the famous Maison Folio. The visit of this beautiful colonial mansion and its renowned garden is a good introduction to the island. Free dinner and overnight in gite.
Time of transport : 2 hours
Accomodation : Gite
Day 2 Hell-Bourg - Ilet à Malheur (Cirque de Mafate)
We are taken to the starting point of the scout path to reach the isolated cirque of Mafate on foot. Isolated because no road crosses it and it is only accessible on foot. The scout trail is one of the most beautiful routes in the circus because it is dotted with superb viewpoints and watchtowers. We enter in Mafate by foot and begin our descent in a beautiful tropical wet forest. Ilet à Malheur owes its name to the sad history of maroons(slaves) who were chased when they tried to hide in the cirque. If its history is sad, the site is however beautiful. Very typical and Creole dinner and night in a gite this evening!
NB: As there is no vehicle access to Mafate, we carry our backpack for 5 days and 4 nights. We find our main bag on J7 in the evening in Cilaos.
Walking time: 3 to 4 hours
Elevation: + 150m / -950m
Day 3 Ilet à Malheur - Aurère - Grand Place (Cirque de Mafate)
This hike takes us from Ilet to Ilet in Mafate. We discover these hilltop villages with exuberant gardens and welcoming people. After Ilet à Malheur we cross Aurère. We follow rivers and basins on this still wet slope east of Mafate. The paths are punctuated with sisal agave and bamboo that line the path and the forest. We rush into a dry ravine before reaching our place in the evening: Grand Place. The day ends with a good local specialty meal.
Walking time: 5 to 6 hours
Elevation: + 630m / -760m
Day 4 Grand Place - Ilet des Orangers - Roche Plate (Cirque de Mafate)
Early departure for a dense and beautiful day of walking. The luxuriant vegetation has kept the charm of an exotic garden. We are in the heart of the Mafate cirque with a superb view of the surrounding peaks. We leave Grand Place by taking the path of the Rivière des Galets, but this time we head towards Ilet des Orangers and pass by Ilet des Lataniers. This stage is quite sporty in terms of slopes and elevations but you will be reward with exceptional panoramas. We join our gîte at Roche Plate where we spend the night.
Walking time: 6 hours
Elevation: + 1050m / -700m
Day 5 Roche Plate - Cascade des Trois Roches - Marla (Cirque de Mafate)
We go for a pique-nique on the pretty site of Trois Roches. Exceptional look at the falls of the Rivière des Galets. It descends here in the form of a waterfall of more than 50 meters dug in a basalt fault. Swimming on the polished slabs by the waters, above the so-called waterfall. To reach Marla afterwards, we pass by a path encased in a maze of rocks between the ramparts. We arrive in Marla (1600 m), a small and isolated ilet where we spend the night.
Walking time: 5 to 6 hours
Elevation: + 850m / -350m
Day 6 Marla - Col du Taïbit - Cilaos (Cirques de Mafate et Cilaos)
We leave the Mafate cirque via the Taibit pass and its 2080 meters. It is the obligatory passage between the cirque of Cilaos and Mafate. We find ourselves at the foot of Grand Bénare and enjoy the view of the green cirques of Mafate and Cilaos on one side and on the south coast on the other. We continue with a nice descent through the "Bois de Couleurs" with some panoramas according to the clearings. We settle in our cottage where we find our luggage and take a rest before the climb towards Piton des Neiges the next day! Free time to discover this beautiful Creole village before dinner.
Walking time: 3 to 4 hours
Elevation: + 450m / -820m
Day 7 Cilaos - Refuge du Piton des Neiges
We prepare our backpack for one night (we will collect our luggage the next day at Bélouve). Depending on the weather conditions, the ascent to the refuge is scheduled for late morning or early afternoon. In both cases, we take the time to visit the village of Cilaos. This small town surrounded by high peaks is full of life with its small white Creole houses surrounded by flowered gardens. Departure from the place called "the block", at 1400 meters. The ascent to the refuge at altitude allows you to better immerse yourself in the dimension of the Cilaos cirque. During the climb, we pass from the dampness of the canopy to a more sparse vegetation called tropical mountain. The main species on the ground is then the Green Branle, a tree heather of the Ericaceae family. After about 4 hours of effort, we arrive at the refuge planted in the middle of this superb setting, at the foot of the Piton des Neiges.
Walking time: 4 hours
Elevation: + 1150m / -50m
Day 8 Ascent of Piton des Neiges - Forêt de Bélouve
Today we wake up early to go to the top of the Piton des Neiges, highest peak of the Indian Ocean (3070 m) to admire the sunrise. This volcano asleep for 12,000 years is located in the center of the "ace of clubs" formed by the 3 cirques of Cilaos, Salazie and Mafate. From the promontory, we also admire the South and East coasts as well as the Piton de la Fournaise. Return to the for a breakfast before taking the direction of Cirque des Marsouins. A Circus forgotten because it was covered by the ashes of Piton des Neiges when it was an explosive volcano. After a long descent in the beautiful tropical wet forest we reach the Gite de Bélouve which offers us a very beautiful view of the Cirque de Salazie.
Walking time: 8 to 9 hours
Elevation: + 600m / -1700m
Day 9 Forêt de Bélouve - Trou de Fer - Plaine des Cafres
Early departure for the primary forest of Bélouve. We cross this forest and immerse ourselves in a humid area of island vegetation of medium altitude. The fern tree and endemic plants are everywhere. The density of the environment and its liveliness give free rein to our imagination. So many tortuous trees, so many subdued and solitary spaces, all these places seem to be drawn from a marvelous tale. At the end of the path, we arrive at a belvedere on the highest waterfalls of France which compose the impressive Trou de Fer. Return to the gîte before being taken thereafter to the Plaine des Cafres. More than a plain, it is actually an altitude plateau between the two main volcanic massifs of the island.
Walking time: 3 hours
Transport time: 1 hour
Elevation: + 160m / -160m
Day 10 Plaine des Cafres - Grand Bassin
We are leaving again for two days in a place accessible only by foot, just like Mafate! (baggage claim the next day). A short transfer takes us to Bois Court, overlooking the isolated village of Grand-Bassin. If the village has been deserted by a large part of its inhabitants in search of a more comfortable city life, a cachet of Creole authenticity remains in this heaven of peace which has become one of the most beautiful pedestrian escapades on the island. Descent to Grand Bassin. We discover superb landscapes and take advantage of the surrounding tranquility of the rivers and waterfalls at the bottom of the valley which we will admire and where it is also possible to swim. Night in a gite in Grand-Bassin.
Walking time: 2 to 3 hours
Elevation: +150 / -850m
Day 11 Grand Bassin - Plaine des Cafres - Massif du Piton de la Fournaise
We take the way back on a different path if the conditions allow it. Accompanied by the sound of the surrounding waterfalls. The gardens are full of flowers and fruits of all kinds: bibasses, jackfruits, papayas, anthuriums, fangeans ... Return to the Plaine des Cafres before reaching the volcanic massif of Piton de la Fournaise. On the way, we cross a number of stunning sites such as the Rivière des Remparts and the Plaine des Sables. The universe becomes mineral in the extreme as it approaches one of the most active volcanoes in the World. Night in a refuge near the Caldeira de la Fournaise.
Walking time: 4 hours
Transport time: 1 hour
Elevation: + 1000m
Day 12 Ascent of Piton de la Fournaise - Saint Gilles les Bains et son lagon
Day dedicated to hiking in the heart of Piton de la Fournaise. We take the Pas de Bellecombe, which gives us a superb panorama on the Volcano. Descent into the Fouqué enclosure, the last caldeira formed which leads to the volcano. According to the regulations in force, possibility of climbing the main crater, the Dolomieu. It completely changed shape following the 2007 eruption, having created a depression several hundred meters in its center. We discover different types of rocks resulting from successive lava flows. We walk in a mineral world of fumaroles and lava in various shapes and colors. This hike reminds us that this island lives to the rhythm of the vibrations of this still active volcano. In the afternoon, we take the direction of Saint-Gilles and its lagoon to relax by the water at the end of the trip.
Walking time: 5 to 6 hours
Transport time: 2.5 hours
Elevation: + 600m / -600m
Accommodation: Hotel with swimming pool
Day 13 Saint Gilles les Bains - Journée libre
Free day. End of your trip.
Dates & prices
Departures for English-speaking groups:
No departure for now
Trip code: QREUPIT-EN
- Full supervision by an expert qualifed guide
- 11 nights gîte accommodation with shared facilities
- 1 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
- Meals on Day 1 & dinner on Day 12
- International flights
- Repatriation insurance
- Tips, all expenses & personal equipment, drinks and everything that is not in "INCLUDED"
Terms and conditions
- Cancellation received more than 30 days prior to the departure date: a sum of €50 per person will be retained
- Cancellation received 30 to 21 days before the departure date: your deposit, 30% of the total trip price will be retained
- Cancellation received 20 to 14 days before the departure date: 50% of the total trip price will be retained
- Cancellation received 13 to 7 days before the departure date: 75% of the total trip price will be retained
- Cancellation received less than 7 days before the departure date: 100% of the total trip price will be retained
- Fixed airfares: if your airline ticket was issued in advance, often done to avoid significant surcharges, you will be charged 100% of any non-refundable fees if you wish to change or cancel your flight plan.
- Fixed in-country costs: early charges for firm bookings will be charged if you cancel or modify your trip.
- Insurance costs: if you have taken out comprehensive or cancellation insurance, the cost of insurance is due and cannot be refunded.
Changes to travel contract
Budget & exchange
- 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
- 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
- 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.
Health information & recommendations
- 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.