Travel made in November 2020
Duration: 12 days
Welcome to La Reunion !
The year 2020 is special, it is that of the Covid-19 pandemic! It has become a real obstacle course to travel. Many borders are closed as the virus spreads globally with hundreds of thousands of deaths. Our lifestyle is modified and is tested between confinement, curfew, mandatory mask wearing, hydroalcoholic gel and distancing rules!
As you know, travel is my oxygen bubble, so out of the question for me to deprive myself of this breath of air that it brings me. The DOM-TOM and Europe have reopened. The hellish steps to get there began with the search for a laboratory to perform a PCR test (on Sundays). Then came the stress suffered while waiting for its results. Positive or negative? Will I have the analysis results within 72 hours before my departure? For my part, I went directly to Orly (terminal 4 level -1) to be tested. The laboratory funded by 4 French airlines guarantees results within 24 to 48 hours (I got them after 8 hours!). Doors open at 9am and close at 8pm. Arriving 2h30 before the opening, we were the 3rd. It stings, but it’s worth it! You wait in the warmth while having your breakfast comfortably seated unlike a city laboratory where you wait outside, standing, in the cold with an endless queue, not guaranteeing results before your departure because you are not a priority.
The PCR test can be scary because impressive with its long cotton swab that is inserted quite far into the nasal cavity. I reassure you, it does not hurt but it remains unpleasant. A tingling sensation makes you bring tears to your eyes. It lasts a few seconds.
The reward? Go to Reunion ! Then comes the stress of knowing if your flight will be maintained or canceled! Until the end, we are not sure of anything. We were very playful and ambitious in booking a flight 3 weeks before departure.
At what price? Poker shot! I find a return flight for 249€ on skyscanner with the company Corsair. Never seen before! Without hesitation we booked because the company assured us a free cancellation or a changeable flight up to 7 days before departure.
After 11 hours of flying, welcome to Myoxybubble Reunion for new adventures on the intense island!
- Welcome to La Reunion !
- La Reunion, the intense island !
- Day 1 : From Saint-Denis to the old village of Hell-Bourg!
- Day 2: Discovering the Circus of Salazie
- Day 3 : Trek in the circus of Mafate!
- Day 4: On the way to Takamaka, the majestic green valley!
- Day 5: The ascent of the Piton de la Fournaise
- Day 6: Discover the south coast of the island
- Day 7: The Circus of Cilaos
- Day 8: Flying over Reunion by helicopter!
- Day 9 : After the mountains, the sea!
- Day 10 : The basins of St Gilles the heights and the surroundings of St Paul
- Day 11: Idleness at the beach before the return flight!
You can click on all the photos in this article in order to view them in large format
La Reunion, the intense island !
Day 1 : From Saint-Denis to the old village of Hell-Bourg!
Landing at Roland Garros airport around noon. I advise you to rent your car via the company Cargo. The rental price, just like the flight, was very attractive in this time of Covid! 293€ for 13 days! In addition, we had a significant upgrade with a Clio instead of a Twingo. The trunk being deeper and the car a little more powerful we really enjoyed. To start your stay, I advise you to rent on Booking.com, a small hut not far from the city Salazie, located 10km from Hell-Bourg.
Cheap accommodation and perfect for a night of passage (or more). It is clean and well appointed, with a decoration mainly based on pallet recycling!
Barbecue facilities and a swimming pool are available.
The view of the mountains and waterfalls from the accommodation is absolutely stunning. The other advantage of this rental is that it is located 5 minutes walk from the starting point of the hike to the bride’s veil waterfall.
# Bride’s veil waterfall
Count 25min on foot hiking. Small ride ideal to stretch your legs after your 11 hours of flight!
The starting point is located below, just after the bus stop not far from the accommodation. On your way, you will cross a small footbridge and cross lush vegetation.
Too bad the road is not laid out properly to admire the viewpoint. You will have to climb and cross some streams to get closer and be at the foot of the waterfall. Bring waterproof hiking shoes!
A prefectural order is posted, but no one takes it into account.
You can also enjoy a nice view of this waterfall from the road coming from Hell-Bourg.
Day 2: Discovering the Circus of Salazie
In France, all the attention is held by the announcement of President Emmanuel Macron of the re-confinement from 29/10/2020 at midnight! A stroke of luck for us because Reunion is spared! We will be able to enjoy our stay without being confined!
# Hike from Hell-Bourg to the iron hole!
I advise you to use the Viso Rando app (or their website) to find the starting point of the excursion.
All hikes during your stay must be done by leaving very early in the morning to ensure a good visibility of the sites visited. On the island, clouds rise quickly all year round from noon. This hike is difficult. Count in total 6h30-7h round trip with breaks (photos). More if you picnic.
# Gite de Belouve
Count 1h30 to arrive at the cottage of Belouve. At the top, you enjoy a beautiful view of the Cirque de Salazie.
Possibility to sleep and eat there on reservation for hikers making excursions over several days! The place is ideal for a picnic break as you can see in the photos! Excellent starting point to get to the Iron Hole.
# Iron hole
To be sure to see the site of the Iron Hole clear and without fog, I advise you to arrive before 11am, or even earlier, otherwise you will not see anything! We were lucky because when we arrived on the promontory, we had a white wall made of our own. No visibility on the waterfalls!
Patience finally paid off! We waited 15 minutes to finally see the fog dissipate for about ten minutes and resettle permanently. We were able to see the waterfalls, the green gorges and take some pictures! The view is breathtaking. The place immersed in fog is very mystical.
Two paths lead to the site, one of which is difficult because it is very muddy where you are immersed in the beautiful and unmissable primary forest.
The other access is equipped with footbridges crossing the forest and a rather family and pleasant concrete road path for a softer and less tiring return.
Count 1h30 from the cottage of Belouve to the Iron Hole.
Possibility to opt for a helicopter flight over the site for a spectacular view of the 300-meter abyss.
# Visit of Hell-Bourg
On your return, do not hesitate to walk the alleys of one of the most beautiful villages in France named ” Hell-bourg “.
The village is filled with charm with its typical Creole huts very colorful. It is an old spa resort. The activity ended in the middle of the twentieth century following a cyclone. Absolutely stop at folio house !
# Folio House
It will cost you 4 € / person and 6 € for a guided tour. Very nice house of the time with an interesting history.
Mrs. Folio’s grandson is a young botanical and history enthusiast!
The garden is filled with many species of Reunionese plants. A real delight for the eyes.
I propose you at the end of the day to take the road to Grand Ilet at Jean Robert. On our arrival we had the nice surprise to discover a large and beautiful house.
Indeed, its ad is not representative of the accommodation. We had taken our night at his house because everything was full around, but we have no regrets because everything was perfect with a hearty breakfast included in the price. The decoration is old but the accommodation very clean with heating and private bathroom. The host is a bit atypical but very nice. Possibility to book your evening meal at home or I also recommend a small restaurant located below 5 minutes by car in the village ” Chez Serge “.
The restaurant does not look good but the manager is very warm and the typical Reunion island meals are really delicious. I recommend!
Day 3 : Trek in the circus of Mafate!
# From the Oxen’s Neck to the New
Mafate it is deserved! No access to the Circus of Mafate by road is possible. Everything is done on foot or by helicopter! Food supply and garbage collection by helicopter as you can see on this video:
I suggest you go to the News and spend a night there. For your organization, I advise you to park your vehicle at the Col des Boeufs car park. It is paid 12 € per night but is supervised!
Departure from the Col des boeufs at 7:30 am to reach the Nouvelle. Link Viso Rando. The view of the circus of Mafate is splendid.
The Col des boeufs allows you to go from the circus of Salazie to that of Mafate. It is an essential step to go down into Mafate for small or large hikes. The one up to the New is beautiful and indescribable by its landscape. Its varied vegetation passes from tree ferns to a forest of tamarinds, endemic trees of the island.
The hike is accessible with children but there are many steps and elevation gain (for the return). Count 2h15 to reach the village of La Nouvelle counting the photo breaks.
Arrival at La Nouvelle, I can advise you the delicious and pretty bakery not far from the cottage.
The manager is really friendly. Do not hesitate to take him a sandwich for your hike! And don’t forget to taste its chocolate macatias (a kind of brioche)!
A real delight especially when they come out of the oven in the morning for breakfast on site!
# Waterfall of the 3 rocks
Allow about 4 hours round trip without the break times on site. You will pass by the plain to the sands.:
It is one of the islets of the circus of Mafate which was destroyed during the cyclone of 1948. Possibility to bivouac because today it is a huge virgin land! This hike of the waterfall of the 3 Roches is very difficult physically with a lot of altitude difference but you are rewarded for your efforts at the finish. Indeed, this walk is rather reserved for good walkers. The visorando link. The site is magical! We would stay there for hours so much we feel good.
Sit down, picnic, stroll and admire this Garden of Eden around you. The waterfall of the 3 rocks is impressive with this fault without visible bottom!
Be careful if you have small children! Do not leave them unattended. The surroundings of the waterfall can be slippery in wet weather.
After the effort the comfort! We do not come to this site without stopping at the famous Tisannerie des trois roches !
A little hard to find but look for it absolutely! You will have to cross the stream to get there and climb a little! Here are some clues:
You absolutely must taste Bertrand’s delicious refreshing lemonade. You will tell me some news!
In addition, the herbal tea room has an exceptional view of Mafate. The manager is lovely. I recommend 100%. A must of Mafate before returning to the News. Once you arrive, I offer you another opportunity to have a drink by going to the “Bistrot des songes” to drink a small rum arranged and enjoy some corks!
To sleep, I can advise you the cottage Yvon Gravina for 38 € / per night for 2. The cottage is very good.
The common sanitary facilities are very clean. The only downside was that the owner had not fixed all the shutters of the neighboring rooms not rented. They slammed all night! Well advise him to fix them before sleeping. We had booked the evening meal 18€/person which was very good and plentiful. It is served in a common room with other hikers, which allows to exchange and get to know each other. attention! There is no electrical outlet in the rooms. Possibility to charge your devices at the reception with a multi socket common to other hikers.
Day 4: On the way to Takamaka, the majestic green valley!
Departure 7:45 am from La Nouvelle. You can return to the Col des Boeufs car park via the oak plateau and the Col de La Fourche. This makes it possible not to do the same hike as on the way out.
Attention, a lot of elevation gain and especially a very steep descent at the end of the hike. The view is really beautiful. You will take a good breath of oxygen worthy of Myoxybubble.
You will arrive at the car park around 11am.
# Takamaka’s point of view
Count a car travel time from the Ox Pass to Takamaka of 2 hours. The stretch of road between St. Benedict and the viewpoint is very winding and steep! Takamaka is a valley located in the east of the island. Upon arrival, do not stop at the picnic area but continue your way to the hydroelectric dam located 2km away.
Here you will have a breathtaking view of Takamaka!
It is the starting point of several hikes including the one to banana islet.
Hikes are imperative in dry weather (and being well equipped). This is not easy because Tamataka has some world records for rainfall! To the west of the meeting rainfall is scarce, on the other hand the east of the country beats all records, hence the erosion and digging of the valley. The site is grandiose because of its lush vegetation.
The place is magical and breathtaking. There are no words to describe this splendor of nature. Possibility of meeting with a Tang., a small animal resembling a cross between a hedgehog and a shrew:
It is quite ugly and unfortunately a victim of poaching. He is hunted to finish in Carry de Tang in the Reunion plates.
A real favorite for Takamaka! A must see! It’s a must!
The day ending, we had made the choice to take the road again and get closer to the peak of the furnace. The cottage of the volcano being complete, we opted for a rental located as close as possible, 40min from the start of the hike to the volcano. At first we were disappointed not to have a place at the cottage of the volcano, but finally it was a very good choice. At the cottage we would have been cold and no comfort. There we were warm with a clean and cocooning room, comfortable bedding and a private bathroom.
Our hosts had concocted on reservation an unforgettable candlelight meal with their local products. A real delight and a very friendly host.
Day 5: The ascent of the Piton de la Fournaise
# The Piton de la Fournaise
You can’t come to Reunion without climbing the majestic Piton de la Fournaise ! This volcano is a must on the island! I strongly advise you to get up very early in the morning to be able to attend the sunrise on the plain of sands!
Lunar and mystical landscape that you will also enjoy on your return from hiking with sublime red colors.
It feels like Mars!
Then, go to the ” pas de bellecombe” car park. Here, will start your hike to the piton de la Fournaise culminating of 2632m.
You will start your hike by discovering the very cute formica Leo crater.
It is a small volcano of an ancient eruption. You will not get tired of taking pictures of it and can even climb on it for the pleasure of adults and children. In the background of the latter, you will discover a lava field and the majestic Piton de la Fournaise surrounded by its caldera. On the way to the ascent of the latter to the crater Dolomieu. count 6 hours minimum round trip time of breaks and photos included. Take your time and enjoy! Equip yourself with good shoes imperatively.
The view from the crater is exceptional with an impression of overlooking the clouds.
It’s worth it! Have a nice hike!
# Our Lady of the Lavas
Once your hike is over, head to Piton Sainte Rose. The impressive history of the church of Notre Dame des Laves will fascinate you! It was encircled and miraculously spared by lava flows during the 1977 eruption, hence its name.
The lava had stopped at the entrance of the church. It’s impressive! This visit completes your hike of the Piton de la Fournaise.
For your night, I suggest you stay at Soraya. The accommodation is ideally located, 2 steps from the church of Notre Dame des Laves and 10 minutes by car from the lava tunnels. The accommodation and the pool have an exotic decoration and cocooning. You can only enjoy!
If you arrive like us on a Sunday, I highly recommend the pizzeria located 5 min walk. They are delicious, cooked over a wood fire, and benefit from a fine and generously garnished paste. A special mention for the Furnace!
We stayed in the volcano theme until the pizza!
Day 6: Discover the south coast of the island
# Lava tunnels
Are you ready for new volcanic explorations? Are you curious and adventurous? Do you fear darkness? Are you passionate about the history of volcanoes and lava? See you for an exceptional discovery of 2h30 in the lava tunnels with Rando Volcan ! The excursion will cost you 50€/person. It’s expensive but it’s definitely worth it! Bring old jeans, a t-shirt, hiking shoes, a small backpack and a bottle of water. You will crawl through very narrow passages for a few meters. The exploration of lava tunnels is done in caving mode (for beginners).
People who are uncomfortable with narrow passages can take a less sporty path. You will be equipped with a protective helmet with a built-in waterproof flashlight, knee pads and gloves. Possibility to venture yourself without a guide in the tunnel but at your own risk. Access is allowed to all.
You just have to find the entrance of the latter not far from the side of the road!
I strongly advise to be accompanied or experienced and well equipped as it can be very perilous. We can quickly get lost and panic. A family with children almost lost their lives. It’s up to you!
During your visit, you can see a calf mummified by lava or a tree trunk.
This tour will be really informative and interesting.
Your excursion finished, I propose you a stop in Cap Méchant.
# Cap Méchant
Here, time stands still so the site is beautiful and peaceful. Do not hesitate to take a takeaway on your way because the place is really conducive to picnic.
At high tide, the waves break on the rocks, a lava flow that ended up in the sea, creating a mini-cliff. It’s a fabulous show!
You could stay there for hours admiring them. Cap Méchant is located on the southwest coast of Saint Philippe. Do not hesitate to continue your visit of the coast by going to the Gouffre.
# The Abyss
Just like cape town, the place is suitable for picnics. Tables and benches are at your disposal. The chasm is impressive!
Do not hesitate to walk along the coast while walking. You will admire the sea unleashed!
Your day coming to an end, I encourage you to head to the Circus of Cilaos by taking the road at 400 bends! The landscape is magnificent. Be careful, the road is difficult! It is a very narrow mountain road where it is difficult to cross, especially with buses.
Besides, they drive quite fast. For your safety, I advise you to honk your horn regularly to signal your presence at each turn. There are just 426! Do not be afraid of emptiness. Also be careful before entering the tunnels as there is only one lane in alternating traffic. For people prone to motion sickness, I advise you to take your precautions before taking the road. Fortunately, the beauty of the green mountains is there to distract you.
For your night, I really advise you to stay at La belle Creole. It is a colonial type house, very clean, spacious and new.
It is ideal for both a couple and a family of 4. The accommodation is fully furnished with kitchen, living room, 2 bedrooms and bathroom. The center of Cilaos, a mountain village, is a 5-minute walk away.
Here you will find many restaurants. We recommend in particular the creperie.
Day 7: The Circus of Cilaos
# Hiking from La Chapelle
The start of the hike from La Chapelle is 5 minutes walk from the rental. No need to take your car. Bakeries open at 6am, so you can buy your sandwich right before you leave.
For this walk, I advise you to bring water shoes in addition to your hiking shoes if you do not want to end up with soaked and stinking shoes for 2 days.
It is inevitable to cross streams. The hike is very pleasant.
This hike offers an incredible view of the slot of the Chapel and the piton des neiges.
Allow 5 hours round trip. Be careful, to reach the chapel, you will have to climb on rocks and cross streams. The end of the hike is not well indicated, non-instinctive so a little complicated to find. Arrived at the bottom, at the level of the river, you will have to turn on your right and cross the latter. You have no choice!
Then, walk along the river along the cliff and climb the large rocks. It’s a bit complicated and acrobatic.
I do not recommend this walk with small children. On the other hand, the game is worth the candle! The reward on arrival is exceptional!
The site is really superb. The light that pierces and reflects on the rock walls in the morning is magnificent.