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Maïdo - Roche-Plate

Walking/pedestrian at Saint-Paul

10.0 km
5h 20min
  • Today, access to the trail down to Roche Plate is easy. Before 1953, you had to cut your way through with a machete from Petite France to reach Mafate. It was only in 1953, when the first school in the Cirque of Mafate was built at Roche Plate,... Today, access to the trail down to Roche Plate is easy. Before 1953, you had to cut your way through with a machete from Petite France to reach Mafate. It was only in 1953, when the first school in the Cirque of Mafate was built at Roche Plate, that a track was built to Grand Bord. Then the track was turned into a forest road to Maïdo. Using this trail, you will have to traverse 5 kilometres with a height difference of 950 metres to reach Roche Plate in 2 hours. However, before beginning your descent into Mafate, you can go to Maïdo to admire the amazing panorama of the Cirque of Mafate. Like the other cirques, Mafate formed during the collapse of the central caldera of Piton des Neiges 300 000 years ago. This cirque is the wildest of the three, and its relief is even more tormented than the other cirques. There’s no road, but to the delight of hikers, it’s crossed by more than 140 kilometres of trails. The shortage of arable land, poverty and significant demography pushed the whites to seek new land on the small plateaux of Mafate after the abolition of slavery in 1854.\r
    Then Mafate emptied out somewhat before the tourist boom gave it new life from the 1980s. This cirque is synonymous with isolation, solitude and inaccessibility, due to its tormented and chaotic relief. It’s also the symbol of “marronnage”. These were fleeing slaves, knowns as “marrons”, who began to populate this cirque from the beginning of the 18th century, and to trace out the first paths, including this one. The slave regime was terrible. Some slaves were well treated, but for others, their existence became a nightmare. In spite of the punishments inflicted by way of example, such as hands, ears and hamstrings cut, the most daring escaped to the mountains and the heart of the cirques, to places inaccessible to the whites, and Mafate was the ideal place.\r
    Organised as a family, the marrons lived by fishing, hunting and farming, and attacked isolated whites to steal the materials, utensils and weapons they needed to survive. The whites, living in fear, sent detachments to fight the marrons. The ONF has set up a viewpoint about a third of the way down for the benefit of hikers because it’s the most wonderful place to view the Cirque of Mafate. From the viewpoint, you can see all the corners of Mafate, these magnificent places which have a history linked either to the colonists or the marrons who were often of Malagasy origin. This is why places in the heart of Reunion Island often bear the names of colonists, marrons, or names of Malagasy origin.
    A shuttle bus leaves Saint-Paul's bus station every morning at 6.00 am (line 2 "Le Guillaume"), and drops you off at the start of the trail at 7.00 am (except Sundays and public holidays). The schedule for this 20-seat mini-bus is: 6.00 am, 2.00 pm and 4.15 pm. It comes back down at 7.30 am, 3.05 pm and 5.20 pm. If you head up the same trail during the day, don’t forget to take plenty of water with you. If necessary, refill your water at the Roche Plate school, where you’ll find 2 taps at the side of the trail. Two litres of water isn’t too much for this ascent.
  • Difference in height
    1111.01 m
  • 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
By car, head towards Saint-Paul, then Plateau Caillou, Le Guillaume, Petite France and Maïdo. Stop at the car park 3 km before arriving at Maïdo. A white mark painted on the road indicates the path towards Roche Plate.
0,0 km : Maido - Roche Plate 0,3 km : Maido - Roche Plate 0,4 km : Maido - Roche Plate 0,5 km : Maido - Roche Plate 0,7 km : Maido - Roche Plate 1,0 km : Maido - Roche Plate 1,1 km : Maido - Roche Plate 1,1 km : Maido - Roche Plate 1,4 km : Maido - Roche Plate 1,6 km : Maido - Roche Plate 1,7 km : Maido - Roche Plate 1,9 km : Maido - Roche Plate 2,1 km : Maido - Roche Plate 2,3 km : Maido - Roche Plate 2,4 km : Maido - Roche Plate 2,6 km : Maido - Roche Plate 2,6 km : Maido - Roche Plate 2,8 km : Maido - Roche Plate 3,4 km : Maido - Roche Plate 3,6 km : Maido - Roche Plate 3,6 km : Maido - Roche Plate 4,0 km : Maido - Roche Plate Maido-RochePlate-P02 Maido-RochePlate-P03 Maido-RochePlate-P04 Maido-RochePlate-P05 Maido-RochePlate-P06 Maido-RochePlate-P07 Maido-RochePlate-P08 Maido-RochePlate-P09 Maido-RochePlate-P10 Maido-RochePlate-P11 Maido-RochePlate-P12 Maido-RochePlate-P13 Maido-RochePlate-P14 Maido-RochePlate-P15 Maido-RochePlate-P16 Maido-RochePlate-P17 Maido-RochePlate-P18 Maido-RochePlate-P19 Maido-RochePlate-P20 Maido-RochePlate-P21 Maido-RochePlate-P22 Maido-RochePlate-P23 Maido-RochePlate-P24
0 km: From the car park, climb up towards the crest of the Mafate rampart.

0.4 km: At the first junction, turn left towards the rampart and the Roche Plate trail. The trail that heads off to the right via a stile goes towards Maïdo.

0.5 km: Reaching the second junction, you are on the edge of the Mafate rampart. Then take the path that descends to the right into Mafate. The trail that runs to the left goes to Piton des Orangers.

1.0 km: During the descent, you can take in the various panoramas offered by the north of Mafate.

1.8 km: You quickly reach the third intersection, marking 33% of the descent. Take the path on the right. After 50 metres, it leads to the most wonderful viewpoint over Mafate (don’t miss it). From this point, you can see almost every corner of Mafate, and an orientation table will help you identify the pitons and islets. Then retrace your steps to the junction and continue down into Mafate.

2.3 km: After passing the rock marked 50% - 50% (half of the descent to Ti Col), you also pass La Croix.

2.6 km: Reach the ridge and go down to the point marked 75% - 25%. You begin to see Ti Col.

3.5 km: You’ve reached Ti Col. A trail heads off left towards the islet of Les Orangers. Take the path that descends to the right towards Roche Plate. At first it’s a series of concrete steps and a handrail firmly anchored in the rock, allowing you to descend safely.

3.8 km: The relatively flat path runs along the wall. The view is amazing and you can admire Roche Ancrée below, at the bottom of the Rivière des Galets.

4.7 km: After a final descent and crossing the ravine of Roche Plate, you arrive at the entrance to Roche Plate.

5.0 km: The gîtes are on the left and right of the trail. Continue ahead and cross the bridge of Roche Plate, then arrive at the school of Roche Plate, where you can have a break and take on more water.
1111 meters of difference in height
  • Start altitude : 2019 m
  • End altitude : 2020 m
  • Maximum altitude : 2025 m
  • Minimum altitude : 1085 m
  • Total positive elevation : 1111 m
  • Total negative elevation : -1110 m
  • Max positive elevation : 515 m
  • Min positive elevation : -259 m