Bereft of artifice, the site still has palpable intensity. This force, anchored in the countryside, contrasts with the inherited gentleness of the “tan lontan” and the welcoming nature of the inhabitants. Very quickly, the enclosing cirques become a protective and isolating screen that disconnects the traveller, giving rise to surprising inner peace. It's a sensation of well-being known to adventurers, who find in the Land of Tracks an open-air playground.
Mafate, the inaccessible Lord
The great cirque,Mafate is like the chief of the slaves who gave it its name noble and impenetrable. At the base, all along the countless footpaths, or by helicopter, the best known of Reunion's cirques is worth the effort! Once at the heart of this mineral crown, a rough diamond awaits the most determined adventurers. Despite its abrupt drop-offs and the feeling of being at the end of the world, the Mafate cirque presents an intense tale, about the inhabitants and the sumptuous countryside.
Once a haven for escaped slaves, today the enclave still retains much of its past intensity. The authenticity of its hamlets bears perfect witness. Marla, Aurère, La Nouvelle, Grand Place, l’îlet des Lataniers … Succumb to the charm of these tiny villages where transient backpackers and locals mingle in a typical environment, somewhere between isolation and human passion, disconnection and knowledged passed down through the generations. It may be the Reunion cuisine and its curries cooked over open fires in lodges from a past age that inspires confidence. Or it may be the simplicity and sincerity of the inhabitants who invite you to lend an attentive ear to their tales of their ancestors.
Spending a night in these hamlets transports you to another time, light years from today's hustle and bustle. At the heart of the Ultimate Experience , each new morning becomes a magical instant in which, as time passes, the Mafate cirque little by little reveals blinding light.
And while some of the tracks are impressively dizzying , the diversity of its panoramas and their tranquillity will soon have you adopting the royal simplicity of the Land of Tracks.
Salazie, the mother of waterfalls
Keep your ears open! Very quickly, you hear a steady sound. From all across the top of the cliff walls, water sparkles down in uncountable waterfalls, brushing over you.
The Salazie cirque, has other natural secrets for travellers to uncover. Hike along the winding trails to discover the charm of its preserved hamlets, venture out into the cultivated countryside and enjoy the coolness of its waterfalls. The poetic Voile de la Mariée (Bride's Veil) remains the centrepiece of this impressive aquatic ballet.
Within this green screen, time has frozen the Creole villages, such as ’Hell Bourg. Take the time to wander through this intact witness to the prosperity of yesteryear. From the Chayote crops to the discovery of the history of its thermal baths, this village, rated the most beautiful in France, incarnates inimitable cultural heritage. Your senses come alive, with the vivid colours of the Creole huts and the heady scents of the gardens. Join the locals in the comfort of a corniced veranda or at the fireside for a Creole aperitif with aromas from here and there.
Cilaos, the Prince with two faces
It's not the destination, it's the journey, as Robert Louis Stevenson said. With its famous 400 winding road, the way to Cilaos illustrates this perfectly!
The interminable route with tight curves sneaks, slides and snuggles its way between the cliffs, and slowly brings us to the heart of the cirque. Before your eyes, extraordinary panoramic views are revealed, with a blend of grey, warm brown and deep green. Adjust the focus and capture the beauty of the countryside surrounding you.
Looking for an adrenaline rush? What with canyoning, climbing and hiking, the different activities available in the Land of Tracks will soon inexorably draw the most athletic visitors.
Once there, the sharp contrasts of Cilaos illustrate the diversity of Reunion Island. Its abrupt and steep mountainous land clashes with the laidback, peaceful atmosphere of the village. Alternating between barren landscape and torrential waterfalls, introspection and contact with the people, the Cilaos cirque is an experience that shows travellers two very different faces.
While there are vine basins and lentil cultivation throughout the Island, it's at Cilaos that you also find one of the most far-flung hamlets, l’îlet à Cordes (Rope Hamlet). Perched atop an isolated plateau, when you're there you have the impression that you're standing on the roof of the world.
Beneath the watchful regard of the Piton des Neiges (Snowy Peak), Cilaos, has a wide range of experiences to offer those who seize the opportunity.