©Photographe|Luc PERROT

1st eruption of 2017 with Rando Pei

Are you interested in Hiking? Are you interested in Volcanoes? Then set off with “Rando Péi” to discover the first eruption of 2017 of the Piton de la Fournaise, that took place between the 31st January and the 27th February. Public access to the enclosure is forbidden but some professional photographers managed to get the authorisation to access the area and they would like you to take advantage too. At night, they’ll take you into the Château Fort sector so you can see with your own eyes the beauty of this magnificent eruption.


An exceptional spectacle of nature

At the Piton Rouge mountain pass, we can see the colours much more clearly, we feel like we’re closer but it’s just an optical illusion. This is because Rivals is in the foreground, blocking the other craters from view.

At the foot of Rivals crater, there’s little over one hour of walking left. The area around us has been marked by a significant amount of lava flow over the past two years and it’s not easy to walk on.

Very quickly, we come face-to-face with the spectacle. From the viewing platform, with some other hikers who have already arrived, down below we can see the real crater, lit up with spurting lava. We’ve still got a lot of ground to cover as we need to reach the crater before sunrise.

Near Château Fort, to the right, we can see the crater erupting, it’s a festival of sound and light. Mission accomplished for the photographers who wanted to get to the foot of the crater just before the sun appeared over the horizon, and so the spectacle begins. After this fantastic sight, they decide to explore the area below the crater where the lava has flowed. The guide assures participants that it’s not dangerous, despite the heat. The flow has already slowed down considerably and there’s no lava flow on the surface anymore, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still flowing underground, so we have to be extremely careful. The safety distances are adapted depending on the lava flow.

This natural phenomenon is exceptional, and the spurting lava is fabulous, especially on this clear night.

A closer look at this unique experience

Regulations and access conditions:

The conditions for the general public to access the volcano are provided by prefectural decrees that can be viewed on the website for the Reunion Island Prefecture: http://www.reunion.gouv.fr/. Professional photographer can request special authorisation.

This may be subject to change because the Regional Physical and Sports Education Centre of Reunion Island (CREPS) is developing a volcanism course on Reunion Island. This course is intended for forty-nine mountain and high-mountain guides so that, afterwards, tours to the Piton de la Fournaise can be offered to the public during eruptions, in complete safety, in full respect of the conditions set by the Reunion Island Prefecture.

About Rando Péi

Rando Péi” is a programme that aims to raise awareness with the public of how rich and fragile the various sites around Reunion Island are. These sites allow a better discovery of nature, to be able to protect it as best as possible. For the Departmental Council and the French National Forest Office, it is an opportunity to provide viewers with safety advice and useful numbers for when they go hiking.

See the Rando Péi programmes: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLFB072BD58B318D7C