Grand Etang

Walking/pedestrian at Saint-Benoît

  See photos (14)
8.0 km
4h 30min
  • Grand Etang is the only high-altitude lake of volcanic origin in Reunion Island. Tens of thousands of years ago, a river dug a deep valley in the Piton des Neiges massif, the Bras d'Annette river. Then, 6000 years ago, eruptions of Piton de la Fournaise spawned lava flows down the slopes of the massif, penetrating the valley, crossing the Bras d'Annette and completely blocking the valley and the Bras d'Annette river. Some eruptions also took place near the trail leading to Grand Etang, and there are several cones of slag dating from the same period. A lake formed and, over the years, erosion filled in the bottom of the lake with pebbles, sand and silt, giving it a flat bottom. At an altitude of 500 metres, it filled up with slightly mineralised water and fluctuations in its level can be very sizeable. Dried out in January 1998 after a dry period, it reached a depth of 14 metres of water in February, one month after. Similarly, we saw it dry at the beginning of 2006, cyclone Diwa caused it to overflow and the ONF had to forbid access to the 'Grand Etang' route because the water had submerged the trail which allowed people to do a circuit of the lake. The water supply to this lake is provided partly by the waterfalls of Bras d'Annette, but mainly by the runoff water coming from the high ramparts that surround it. There is no visible drainage out of the lake, the water filtering into the porous volcanic rock.
  • Difference in height
    545.32 m
  • Equipment
    Gourd, raincoat, hiking shoes, Warm clothes.
  • 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
Heading off from the west, take the dual carriageway towards Saint-Denis, then Saint-Benoit. Passing through Saint-Benoit, head for Plaine des Palmistes, passing La Confiance and Chemin de Ceinture. Before taking the first hairpins up to Plaine des Palmistes, and before arriving at the horse-riding centre near Payet bridge, take the fork to the right, indicated by a sign for Grand Etang. Continue on this paved road for 3km to the car park of Grand Etang.
0 km : Grand Etang 0,5 km : Grand Etang 0,9 km : Grand Etang 1,7 km : Grand Etang 2,0 km : Grand Etang 2,7 km : Grand Etang 2,9 km : Grand Etang 3,3 km : Grand Etang 4,0 km : Grand Etang 4,5 km : Grand Etang 5,0 km : Grand Etang 5,5 km : Grand Etang 6,0 km : Grand Etang 6,9 km : Grand Etang
0 km: You should arrive very early at the Grand Etang car park to be sure of having a beautiful blue sky, and start by taking the path signposted at the bottom of the car park near the big eucalyptus.

0.5 km: You’ll easily make the short climb, and continue on a flat trail.

0.8 km: Reach junction 1. The path which heads off to the right leads to the viewpoint, so continue to the left, downhill.

0.9 km: Reach junction 2. The path on the right is the one you’ll come back on. Take the path on the left, as the light is better here in the early morning.

2.0 km: Head along the edge of the lake to reach an awkward section. If the water level is high, you’ll have to stay close to the wall, holding the handrail.

2.7 km: Reach junction 4. Follow the sign for Cascades du Bras d'Annette, heading off to the left. The right-hand path is the one you’ll take on your way back.

3.1 km: The path passes beneath tree ferns known as fanjan.

3.3 km: Two small climbs and descents bring you to the foot of the two waterfalls of Bras d'Annette.

3.8 km: You’ve taken the trail in the reverse direction as far as junction 4, then you continued on the left-hand trail to go around Grand Etang. You now see the other bank of the pool, the one by which you got here.

5.7 km: You have almost completed the tour of Grand Etang.

6.0 km: Reach junction 3. Take the right-hand path if the water level allows it. It leads to the edge of Grand Etang.

6.4 km: Head back from the edge of Grand Etang to arrive at junction 2. Head back up the path to reach the first fork. Head up for a look around the viewpoint if you fancy.

6.8 km: Here at the viewpoint, you have a superb view of the lake.

8.1 km: You’re back at the starting point, Grand Etang car park.
545 meters of difference in height
  • Start altitude : 526 m
  • End altitude : 526 m
  • Maximum altitude : 787 m
  • Minimum altitude : 522 m
  • Total positive elevation : 545 m
  • Total negative elevation : -545 m
  • Max positive elevation : 243 m
  • Min positive elevation : -243 m