How to reach the start
From the north or south, take the Route des Plaines to the Maison du Volcan in Bourg Murat. The Route du Volcan starts next to the car park at the Maison du Volcan. The panels are very obvious and the Route du Volcan crosses pastures that remind you of metropolitan landscapes. Pass Nez de Boeuf, Piton Textor and Commerson. On reaching Pas des Sables, continue down into Plaine des Sables. It’s now a dust and gravel track. Continue on the forest volcano road and pass the large car park of Foc-Foc on the right. Shortly after and 800 metres before arriving at Pas de Bellecombe, a fork to the left leads to the car park of Gîte du Volcan (lodge), where this trail begins.
0 km: The trail begins at the rear of the car park, on the left, next to the viewpoint over the Rivière de l’Est. From this point, the view of the Fond de la Rivière de l’Est is extraordinary early in the morning. You begin to descend the slope of the Rampe Liot.
1.3 km: This is the end of the drivable trail. The dirt road continues to descend in very long zigzags and the vegetation becomes more dense.
1.8 km: It’s now a marked trail through the primary forest. This forest is less humid than Bélouve, but there are many similarities between these two forests made up of large highland tamarinds, tree ferns and tropical wood. This is the Mares Biological Reserve. Numerous orchids and ferns have taken up residence on the tamarinds and other trees. You now cross a wooden footbridge over which stands an enormous tamarind.
2.5 km: The descent into this tamarind forest is wonderful. Here you find barbed wire marking out a cow field. A metal ladder lets you cross the obstacle.
3.0 km: The descent of the rampart is complete, and the trail continues down to the Fond de la Rivière de l’Est. You remain under cover of the forest of tamarinds and come across some beautiful specimens of tree ferns.
5.0 km: A small oratory hangs from a tree. The vegetation begins to thin out. Up ahead, a construction resembles a farmer’s shelter; it’s Camp Marcellin.
6.9 km: On this vast desert expanse, only the grass and thickets seem to grow. A path leads right to Nez Coupé de Sainte Rose. Unfortunately, this path is officially closed because it’s too dangerous and slippery.
7.6 km: Still on the left bank of the Savane Cimetière ravine, you arrive at the shelter at Cassé de la Rivière de l’Est. If you’re lucky enough to arrive early, from here you have an extraordinary panorama over the gorge of Rivière de l’Est.