In the 18th century, the writer and botanist Bernadin de Saint-Pierre compared Réunion to a smaller-scale continent. While Mars is being explored, we can say that Reunion Island makes it feel like you’re on another planet. Ready for take-off? Countdown started. Destination: The Piton de la Fournaise.

Hikers of the future

Strange two-wheeled machines move silently in single file across the Plaine des Sables, an impressive red and ochre desert. This is a promising prelude to the discovery of the Piton de la Fournaise, the most famous volcano in Réunion. This giant is still active, and rises to total of 2,631 metres. For a minute, you wonder how the tiny vehicles manage to combat the lack of gravity, and how the astronauts breathe without their suits. Are they space raiders piloting the latest model of the Explorer? No! They are simply hikers in search of new experiences, standing on Segways: self-balancing personal transporters which move when the user leans slightly forward. Their top-speed is 20km/h, but these hikers of the future are not racing. They are looking to discover the marvels hidden by this extra-terrestrial volcanic universe. Once at the Pas de Bellcombe mountain pass, the Piton de la Fournaise provides an astounding view. The expedition then turns towards the Piton de l’Eau, circling the peak to admire the delicate plant life and fascinating geology.

This lunar excursion should not be without earthly nourishment!

The Marmite Lontan lodge and the Volcano lodge both take reservations, serve hot meals, and also put visitors up for the night. To add to the hike, stops are organised at the Cité du Volcan museum at the Plaines des Cafres. Reopened in August 2014, it shows both adults and children all the secrets of Piton de la Fournaise, with a fun, educational approach and innovative, interactive installations.