The gentle plains
A mountain sitting on the ocean. That is pretty much how we could describe Réunion. And yet it is so much more than rugged terrain and beaches bordering the azure blue sea. Gentle plains nestle in the upland areas. The only road that crosses the breadth of island weaves its way across these plains to link Saint-Benoît in the east to Le Tampon in the west, crossing Plaine-des-Palmistes and Plaine-des-Cafres. The first of these plains is a lush green plateau, dotted with peaceful pasturelands, craggy pinnacles formed by volcanic activity, invigorating waterfalls and rich endemic vegetation. You will be more than tempted to take a walk along one of the many hiking trails through the Bébour-Bélouve forest. Or up to the Biberon waterfall which cascades down from a height of 240m into a small pool surrounded by lush vegetation. The botanical paths on the Petite Plaine and the Piton des Songes take you on a discovery of a series of trees with some pretty unusual names, such as bois maigre (Nuxia verticillata), bois de papa (Tambourissa elliptica), bois de fer (Sideroxylon majus), bois de cannelle (Ocotea obtusata), bois de violon (Acalypha integrifolia), bois de pomme (Syzygium Cymosum), and so on. The Domaine des Tourelles, devoted to promoting regional crafts, is a great example. Other Creole houses and gardens can be found along a trail that crosses the area.
Fragrant, lively plains
Plaine-des-Cafres is made up of farmed fields and natural landscapes ideal for various sports such as hiking (up to Piton des Neiges, for example), horse-riding, mountain-biking and so on. This high plateau is crossed by the volcano forest road that runs up to Piton de la Fournaise, through Bourg-Murat and its Cité du Volcan visitors' centre.
Other high plains can be found in the centre of Réunion, including the plains of Affouches, Chicots, Lianes, Fougères to name but a few. To the south, Plaine Grègues sits at the lowest altitude and is the home of "Indian saffron» or turmeric growing, a spice emblematic of Réunionnais cuisine. It even has its own "Maison" at Saint-Joseph, which shows how it is transformed from the plant root to the spice.
A visit that will spice up the stories of your travels !