Hiking on Reunion Island { Cirque of Mafate }

Hiking on Reunion Island was definitely one of the most amazing things I have ever done. It was totally out of my comfort zone but I enjoyed every ( at times painful ) second of the three day hike we went on.

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Reunion Island is a very small volcanic island in the Indian ocean. It’s really close to Mauritius but so different so don’t expect beaches lined with resorts as this island offers a whole lot more especially when it comes to adventure.

I was lucky enough to spend a few days on this awesome island seeing what its all about with some great content creators. We stayed at the beach for the first couple of days and then headed off into the mountains for a hike.

Hiking is something I love doing and we do a lot of it in Cape Town but I have to tell you that an hour hike up Table Mountain is so very different to a three day hike where you have to carry everything you need with you everyday.

There are loads of hikes on the island but our one would be hiking around the cirque of Mafate. The Cirque de Mafate is a caldera on Réunion Island and it was formed from the collapse of the large shield volcano the Piton des Neiges. Hiking in an extinct volcano is something you definitely need to put on your bucket list and it was just as epic as it sounds.

Their are little villages located in the cirques totally cut off from the outside world that you can only access by foot or helicopter which makes it ultra special places to visit.

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Map at the start of our hike

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Our hike started at the picturesque area on the cirque of Salazie and I have to admit the adrenaline was pumping quite a bit as we got all our things together before we set off. I had thoughts of being last in our hiking group, crying all the way up steep mountains with my 20kg backpack weighing me down like a ton of bricks. Thank goodness my visions were very far from the actual reality and as soon as my pack was on and we headed off up a misty path the excitement took over and it wasn’t as difficult as I imagined.

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gorgeous lush path

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high peaks of one of the cirques

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Definitely not glam but super happy to be hiking

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Our home in Marla for the night

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On our first day we hiked to Marla where we would spend the night in a hostel or gites as they are known there. I was pretty nervous about this because I have never stayed in shared  accommodation before but believe me, after a whole day of hiking, some strong rum and a delicious filling dinner I passed out without a second thought that there was 5 other people in a room with me.

All the meals are served on long tables that you share with whoever else booked there for the night and I really enjoyed the whole vibe of everyone coming together and eating a hearty meal. In the mornings you get coffee, a dry baguette and some preserve to give you energy for the day ahead and a stop at the bakery for some more bread for lunch is a must as you wont come across anywhere to buy food till you reach your next stop for the night.

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Sweaty kisses for Mike at a rest stop

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The hiking route we took was not difficult or technical at all, just long with a few steep inclines which makes it a really good hike for beginners in my opinion. There is a lot of ground to cover each day but you definitely have enough time for a lot of breaks in between if you want to soak up the beautiful views.

The route is also clearly marked so you always know where you are going and even though we had a very capable guide I am sure Michael and I would have had no problem doing this hike by ourselves.

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Waterfall views for lunch on our second day

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Cooling off in a rock pool

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On route we found some really cool volcanic rock pools on one of the days and quickly got out our swimwear to take a dip and cool off.  I was fascinated by the ever changing landscapes from lush and green to rocky and dry at places. I loved that I didn’t know what was waiting for us over the mountain or even around the corner. We always got to our next little village at about 4pm which was the perfect time to grab a beer and luckily the local one was so good and not that expensive. You have to take a bit of cash with you to buy your lunch and of course any extra drinks you might want at the gites. The alcohol is a bit more expensive as it has to be flown in with helicopters but not much and and we really only had the beer when we got there as no one wants to hike a full day with a hangover right?

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Time for breakfast

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The last bit of our hike from the village of La Nouvelle to Cilaos started with a 900m incline and I have to say it was definitely the toughest part for me. After an almost endless uphill we were rewarded with some breathtaking views and a biscuit or two to restore our energy. We then only had downhill to go till we got to the road where our transport was waiting. The landscape turned lush again as we walked down and but the trial also got busier with people walking up starting from where we were ending.

The closer we got to finishing our hike the sadder I got and I could have really done it for a few more days. The feeling of accomplishment is overwhelming and having done something that is physically and mentally out of your comfort zone makes it just so much better.

I thought the adventure was over when we got to our bus but Reunion is full of surprises. We headed down the steepest craziest mountain road I have ever been on with 420 bends, most of them hairpin and single lanes with traffic coming from both ways.

If I had the chance to do it all over again I would in a heartbeat and with so many different routes to explore it would keep you busy for a couple of months at least. If you are an adrenaline junky or a outdoor fanatic and you haven’t been to Reunion you need to book a ticket and go exploring right now! 🙂

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Little villages between the mountains.

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Crazy hairpin bends on our way home.

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5 Comments

  1. September 20, 2016 / 5:12 pm

    Need to explore this place ASAP! Réunion is on my list! Thanks for the beautiful images.

    • admin
      September 21, 2016 / 4:53 am

      Glad you like them! There are so many things to do and see in Reunion, I am sure you will love it!

  2. December 20, 2016 / 12:10 pm

    i love the fact that you wrote so many articles about my home country ♥ 😀 and your pictures are stunning

    Please come have a look at my own travel blog 🙂

  3. May 9, 2017 / 8:03 pm

    We plan to go in November and love to do the same hike. Did you join a hiking group? Do you need a car to get to yhe starting point. Or you can go by bus?

    • Carlinn
      May 9, 2017 / 8:04 pm

      We hiked in a group and had a shuttle with our guide take us to the start 🙂

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