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Cilaos - Piton des Neiges

Walking/pedestrian at Cilaos
7.3 km
One-way
Walking/pedestrian
6h
Hard
  • Several paths take you to the Piton des Neiges refuge (also known as the Dufour cave refuge). This is by far the shortest, the least difficult, and paradoxically the easiest. The other possibilities are Cap Anglais, the path coming from the Bélouve refuge, the Duvernay forest road path, the Mare à Boue path, the Jacky Inard path and the Kerveguen path.rnThe last part of the Piton des Neiges climb is not as easy as it seems. On the one hand the temperature is very low and the feeling of cold...
    Several paths take you to the Piton des Neiges refuge (also known as the Dufour cave refuge). This is by far the shortest, the least difficult, and paradoxically the easiest. The other possibilities are Cap Anglais, the path coming from the Bélouve refuge, the Duvernay forest road path, the Mare à Boue path, the Jacky Inard path and the Kerveguen path.rnThe last part of the Piton des Neiges climb is not as easy as it seems. On the one hand the temperature is very low and the feeling of cold is made worse by the icy wind which very often blows there in the morning. You need to take very warm clothing and if possible wool gloves. On the other hand this is not a traditional path and progress is slowed down by the large stones that you have to jump over. Despite everything, this hike will leave you with a lasting memory and a great feeling of satisfaction.rn
    It is a difficult hike, but despite this, it's the one hike you must do on Reunion Island, to this peak which is rightly called the roof of the Indian Ocean. You might prefer to do this hike over 2 days, sleeping one night at the Dufour Cave refuge, because doing the hike in 1 day requires lots of training to cope with the 1,700 meters difference in altitude. The refuge must be booked very very early in advance because this destination is a must for most visitors. You also need to take very warm clothing and if possible wool gloves.
  • Difference in height
    1662.44 m
  • Equipment
    Gourd, raincoat, hiking shoes, warm clothes, energy food, sunscreen.
  • Documentation
    GPX / KML files allow you to export the trail of your hike to your GPS (or other navigation tool)
How to reach the start
First of all follow the signs to Saint Louis, then to Cilaos on the RN5. Go through the village of Cilaos and follow the signs to Bras Sec. After the Roche Merveilleuse path, then a hairpin bend to the right, you can't miss the Bloc car park just to the left. Be careful though and avoid leaving your vehicle in this car park at night (there have been many cases of vandalism)
0 km : Cilaos - Piton Des Neiges 0,4 km : Cilaos - Piton Des Neiges 1,0 km : Cilaos - Piton Des Neiges 1,2 km : Cilaos - Piton Des Neiges 1,6 km : Cilaos - Piton Des Neiges 1,9 km : Cilaos - Piton Des Neiges 3,4 km : Cilaos - Piton Des Neiges 3,5 km : Cilaos - Piton Des Neiges 3,7 km : Cilaos - Piton Des Neiges 3,7 km : Cilaos - Piton Des Neiges 4,0 km : Cilaos - Piton Des Neiges 4,3 km : Cilaos - Piton Des Neiges 4,6 km : Cilaos - Piton Des Neiges 4,9 km : Cilaos - Piton Des Neiges 5,3 km : Cilaos - Piton Des Neiges 5,5 km : Cilaos - Piton Des Neiges 5,9 km : Cilaos - Piton Des Neiges 6,1 km : Cilaos - Piton Des Neiges 6,2 km : Cilaos - Piton Des Neiges 6,4 km : Cilaos - Piton Des Neiges 6,6 km : Cilaos - Piton Des Neiges 7,0 km : Cilaos - Piton Des Neiges 7,0 km : Cilaos - Piton Des Neiges 7,0 km : Cilaos - Piton Des Neiges
Steps
0 km: Head towards the NFO information panel (Panel 01) and continue in this direction. You will see the markings to follow painted on the trunks of cryptomerias.

0.5 km: The climb starts under the cryptomerias which quickly give way to more traditional vegetation. This climb is quite steep with lots of steps, interrupted by false flats (Panel 02 and 03).

1.0 km: You have passed the PK1 sign and you should be in front of the concrete platform (Panel 04). This is a chance to take a break at this magnificent viewpoint over the cirque of Cilaos.

2.2 km: The PK2 sign is far behind you (Panel 05) and the path is less steep as you reach the Petit Matarum plateau. You have done more than half the climb and you can stop to enjoy a snack and fill up your water. The water which flows from the end of the pipe is really pure and cold (Panel 06).

2.4 km: After Petit Matarum, the path descends a bit to cross the Prunes ravine, then starts climbing again first gently and then with steeper bends.

3.7 km: You have now passed the PK3 and PK4 signs. The vegetation becomes less dense and the viewpoints over Cilaos are increasingly beautiful. Then you begin to see the top of the rampart.

3.8 km: The summit is close, and a virgin sheltering behind a grill watches over the hikers (Panel 07).

3.9 km: You reach the summit of the rampart and see the gite below (Panel 08). You should take a break here to get your breath back.

4.2 km: The path gives way to large volcanic slabs going downhill. Go straight on at the junction with the Coteau Kerveguen path to reach the refuge (Panel 09) and Dufour Cave (Panel 10).

4.3 km: Leave the gite and Dufour Cave very early in the morning (preferably around 5.30am) and don't forget your head torch. Start the ascent of Piton des Neiges by following the white marks (Panel 11 and 12).

5.1 km: The climb is gentle and you will pass in front of the natural basalt ring (Panel 13).

5.3 km: Progress is difficult and you will pass nearer to the cirque of Salazie (Panel 14).

5.7 km: The path turns sharply to the right and you reach the ravine (Panel 15 and 16).

5.9 km: The path turns to the left and starts climbing again after the ravine (Panel 17).

6.5 km: The climb gets steeper, this is the last hill and the most painful (Panel 18), and you start to see the summit of Piton des Neiges in the distance with the antennas.

6.8 km: The climb becomes more gentle, you are near the antennas (Panel 19). Continue to follow the rampart on the left and pass in front of the shelters (Panel 20) and then the platform (Panel 21).

7.2 km: One last small climb and you are at the highest point of Piton des Neiges - 3,070m (Panel 22). The sun should be rising above a sea of clouds (Aerial Panel 23 and 24).
1662 meters of difference in height
  • Start altitude : 1398 m
  • End altitude : 3001 m
  • Maximum altitude : 3042 m
  • Minimum altitude : 1398 m
  • Total positive elevation : 1662 m
  • Total negative elevation : -59 m
  • Max positive elevation : 369 m
  • Min positive elevation : -37 m