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Piton des Neiges

The soul of Reunion Island

Piton des Neiges Serge Gélabert
mountain

Standing 3,071 m in altitude, Piton des Neiges is deemed to be the highest point in the Indian Ocean.

The volcano, which has long been extinct, fascinates with its majestic presence in the centre of the island. The highest point on Reunion Island, Piton des Neiges is a fantastic hiking destination. The perfect opportunity to explore wonderful, unspoilt nature.
 
Reunion is synonymous with Piton des Neiges. Indeed, the volcano, which has been asleep for 120 centuries, is responsible for creating two-thirds of the island over more than three million years. Eroded by the weather and a lack of volcanic activity, it is nevertheless the highest peak on the island, at 3,071 metres above sea level. But its name is misleading, because this “roof of Reunion” is rarely covered with a white coat: there is no eternal “neige” (= snow) covering, and snowfall is infrequent. Nevertheless, it’s cold up there, and hikers who want to take on its ascent need to be well equipped.

Ascents and hikes

It’s possible to begin your assault on its iconic flanks from Plaine des Cafres or the Cirque de Salazie. But in general, brave walkers set off from the Cirque de Cilaos, also in the centre of the island. They then stop at the only hut on Piton des Neiges, the unmissable Cave Dufour refuge. After a good night's rest in one of the four dormitories (48 places in total) and an invigorating meal, they get up very early, before dawn, to cover the last kilometres up to the summit. After a little over an hour, their efforts are rewarded. They watch the sunrise over most of the island, with the Indian Ocean on the horizon, whose turquoise waters merge with the sky. Down below, the three cirques of Mafate (to the north-west), Salazie (to the north-east) and Cilaos (to the south) are also waking up. They formed after the collapse of the roof of Piton des Neiges: the landslides created gigantic cliffs and were then partially filled in by lava flows escaping from the volcano.

Sightseeing excursions

The sightseeing excursion to this venerable high point lets you discover the island of Reunion in even greater detail and puts on a magical show for visitors, who will never forget this unique experience. They’re not the only ones to appreciate this extraordinary environment, which they make sure not to disturb as they pass through.