volcan_plaine_des_sables17_-_credit_irt_-_serge_gelabert_dts_12_2017.jpgPhotographePhotographe© Serge GELABERT

Discover Piton de la Fournaise

A world of unreal beauty

Hiking on Piton de la Fournaise in Reunion Island is like stepping into another world. A world of surreal beauty, where time seems to stand still and everything takes on a new intensity. Heading towards the summit, each stage offers a new opportunity to marvel at the elements. Put on your hiking bots, open your eyes wide and discover the landscapes on one of the most active volcanoes on the planet.

Watching the sunrise at Pas des Sables

We have our coffee at dawn this morning. Water bottle, camera and rucksack, we get ready under a starry sky before getting into the car. We’re off to Piton De La Fournaise! The god of lava is known for reserving its best gifts for those who visit it early in the day. The forest road to the Volcano winds its way to the horizon where the contours of the ramparts loom. The first glimmers of dawn appear as we reach Pas des Sables. Seeing the sun rise over the mystical, lunar landscape of Plaine des Sables, 2,300 metres above sea level, is a unique experience. As the sky lightens, the blue turns to purple then bright pink while a profound silence intensifies the scene. We soak up these magical moments before going back down the few bends that lead to the track which crosses Plaine des Sables and leads to Pas de Bellecombe.

Leaning over the Dolomieu crater

Despite getting up at dawn, it’s starting to get warm. The hike in the Piton de la Fournaise enclosure to get to the Dolomieu crater is not the longest, but it is very demanding all the same. We protect our skin with another layer of sunscreen to avoid any risk of sunburn. Our walking companions remind us that the black lava reflects the ultraviolet rays.

We follow the white marks on the basalt slabs and after walking for around 2 hours, we get there! At the summit, more than 2,600m above sea level, the majestic Dolomieu crater finally stretches out before our eyes. From the guardrail, we contemplate this space forged by the volcano’s numerous eruptions before looking into its 300 metre deep pit. Our hair stands on end, standing at the very heart of the island is the ultimate experience.

Picnic on the volcano

It starts to get cooler as we descend to head back to civilization. We stop at Plaine des Cafres, at the Bois Court viewpoint. ! Well known to hikers on Piton de la Fournaise, it has a delightful picnic spot and stunning views of the Grand Bassin waterfall down below. The “volcano path” picnic is a tradition rooted in Creole heritage.

The words of a famous Creole song come to mind:

“Attrape le zembrocal, rougail saucisses, carri volay

Ni sar pic-nic chemin volcan

Marmay grouille zot cal basse

Si zot i vé trouve in bon place

Allon vite faut pas perd’ le temps !”

Don't go like that !

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