Roche Ecrite from Mamode Camp

Walking/pedestrian at Saint-Denis

  See photos (21)
18.5 km
7h 20min
  • Roche Ecrite is one of the premier destinations on Reunion Island. It shares this star status with the volcano, Piton des Neiges, Maïdo and Grand Bénare. This promontory is one of three viewpoints on the island located where several cirques meet. The other two fabulous viewpoints are Grand Bénare and Piton des Neiges. When the weather is fine, Roche Ecrite, located at an altitude of 2276 metres, offers a beautiful view of the Cirques de Salazie and Mafate. On one side, you feel you can touch the sheet metal roofs of Grand Ilet’s shacks (although 1000 metres below), while on the other side stretches the almost virgin Cirque of Mafate and its vast green, jagged expanses. Besides the panorama of Roche Ecrite, the focal point of this hike lies in the beauty of the forest you pass through. You’ll see the highland tamarinds, among the most wonderful in Reunion Island, the superb forest of coloured wood, tree ferns and calumet bamboo, endemic to Reunion Island. The Plaine des Chicots gîte is just below the upper limit of the forest. From this point to the summit, you’re walking on large basalt slabs which, aided by the altitude, leave little room for vegetation. Only high-mountain species, generally bushy ones such as the Branle Vert, grow here, leaving the horizon free to see the Indian Ocean and the northern coast of the island. Returning from the summit, you can make a detour to the Mare aux Cerfs (deer pond). It was so named after the introduction of Java deer in 1750 in the Plaine des Chicots and Plaine d’Affouches. Victims of poaching, they are now rare in the massif. On the other hand, since the 1980s there has been some deer breeding, and in 2007 Reunion Island had a herd of about 2200 hinds across 14 farms.
    The summit of Roche Ecrite, like other summits located at over 2000 metres of altitude, is generally clear of any cloud before 9.30 am. Then, when the sun heats the air on the slopes, convection takes place and the clouds form along the slopes, rapidly filling the horizon around 9.30 – 10.30 am, depending on the season. Staying overnight at the Plaine des Chicots gîte (or the one at Roche Ecrite) means you can get to Roche Ecrite very early and enjoy the panorama at length before starting the descent towards Mamode Camp. This also allows you to split the hike, long and difficult if you do it there and back in just one day. You can get water at the Plaine des Chicots gîte.
  • Difference in height
    1050.41 m
  • Route interest
    -The forests of highland tamarinds, coloured wood and calumet bamboo ‘-The outstanding viewpoint of Roche Ecrite over the Cirques de Mafate and Salazie
  • Equipment
    Gourd, raincoat, hiking shoes, energy food, warm clothes, sunscreen, flashlight, bandages, hat, detailed maps.
  • Did you know ?
    1/Graffiti and names cover the surrounding rocks, giving this site the name 'Roche Ecrite' (written rock). This tradition has existed for a long time, but today we ask you not to add any new writing and to leave the site as it is. 2/This hike is located in the Roche Ecrite Nature Reserve, which is itself part of La Reunion National Park. The reserve was created at the end of 1999, covering an area of 3635 ha. It includes Plaine des Chicots, Plaine d’Affouches and the Hauts de la Montagne (highlands). The objective was to preserve the flora of the massif, be it the endemic coloured woods or orchids, and the Tuit-Tuit, a very rare endemic bird in danger of extinction. As with all hikes, take your waste back with you, including biodegradable waste that attracts predators (rats and cats) of the endemic wildlife.
  • 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
From Saint Denis, head for the village of Brûlé via the neighbourhoods of Bellepierre or Saint François by car, or by the Providence trail if you’re on foot. Pass through the village of Brûlé following the main street, then head towards Mamode Camp and Roche Ecrite, which are well signposted. A car park and picnic area mark the starting point of the trail which will take you to Roche Ecrite.
0 km : La Roche Ecrite depuis Mamode Camp 1,3 km : La Roche Ecrite depuis Mamode Camp 2,5 km : La Roche Ecrite depuis Mamode Camp 4,8 km : La Roche Ecrite depuis Mamode Camp 4,8 km : La Roche Ecrite depuis Mamode Camp 5,0 km : La Roche Ecrite depuis Mamode Camp 7,1 km : La Roche Ecrite depuis Mamode Camp 8,7 km : La Roche Ecrite depuis Mamode Camp 8,7 km : La Roche Ecrite depuis Mamode Camp
0 km - Climb the concrete steps, and follow the path under the cryptomerias, leaving behind you the shelters in the picnic area.

0.1 km - A sign indicates that you’re entering the Roche Ecrite nature reserve. The cryptomerias quickly give way to the primary forest.

1.0 km - The trail winds with the Bras Sec ravine below and to the right.

1.4 km - The slope increases, and you can see fine specimens of tree ferns and calumet bamboo.

2.0 km - This part of the trail is very wet and slippery. The ONF has installed gratings and logs on the most slippery sections.

2.4 km - This passage between two very mossy walls seems to have been carved into the rock.

2.8 km - You enter an area of cryptomerias.

3.3 km - Now you’ve reached the first highland tamarinds. Several endemic species dominate this area: the great highland tamarind, the highland coloured wood trees, the calumet (small bamboo) and the fanjan (tree fern).

3.5 km - Surrounded by calumets, you arrive at the path that joins this main path on the left coming from Bois de Nèfles Saint Denis, the trail of the Pic d'Adam loop.

4.0 km - You pass superb highland tamarinds, some of them so huge it would take several people to stretch all the way around the trunk.

4.3 km - The trail heads off abruptly to the right and crosses a ravine, then the slope becomes more gentle.

4.8 km - You climb a short, steep slope.

4.9 km – You’ve reached the gîte at Plaine des Chicots. On your right is the path that goes towards Dos d'Ane following the rampart of Mafate. Continue straight ahead and follow the Roche Ecrite signs.

5.1 km - Shortly after leaving the gîte, the primary forest disappears and gives way first to small, dried-up vegetation, then to thickets.

5.8 km - You reach a junction and an un-signposted path heads off on the right. This junction is not very obvious, and if you miss it, it doesn’t matter because it’s the detour to the Mare aux Cerfs (pond) and the two paths rejoin 1 km further on. We go straight ahead. Progress is slow, mainly on lava slabs.

7.0 km - The trail is rather monotonous and vegetation becomes more sparse. You arrive at the junction marking the end of the Mare aux Cerfs detour.

7.1 km - A sign indicates that the trail that descends on the left leads to Bretagne in the highlands of Saint Denis. This path is closed.

7.5 km - Here’s a new junction. Turn right because this trail is shorter. On the left, the trail makes a detour through the Caverne Soldats. You can make the detour to visit the curious “Cavern of the Soldiers” on the way back.

8.0 km - A trail heads off left towards Salazie, Grand Ilet. Another trail descends further left still and a sign indicates Caverne Soldats. Continue on the path that climbs to the right.

8.5 km - Progress on this last slope is more and more difficult on the lava slabs, but you can see the summit in the distance and an antenna stands out against the blue sky.

9.0 km - You arrive at the antenna, and then Roche Ecrite. The exceptional panorama rewards you for your efforts. Piton des Neiges, the roof of the Indian Ocean, is in front of you. Writings, often first names, are inscribed all over the rocks around the geodesic marker of Roche Ecrite.
1050 meters of difference in height
  • Start altitude : 1212 m
  • End altitude : 1220 m
  • Maximum altitude : 2261 m
  • Minimum altitude : 1212 m
  • Total positive elevation : 1050 m
  • Total negative elevation : -1042 m
  • Max positive elevation : 433 m
  • Min positive elevation : -435 m