And discover the local natural heritage by making your brain work!
I met with Anne-Sophie and Gaé from Vélo Explore Réunion in the car park on Bélouve forest road in the east of Reunion Island. They were very friendly and welcoming as they told us what to expect on this half-day heritage tour on an electric MTB through the jungle of Reunion Island. Time for a bike ride!
An original exploration of Bélouve forest, a treasure of the east of Reunion Island.
Bélouve forest is a primary forest on the east side of the island and is a fantastic place for biodiversity. It is especially well-known for its highland tamarinds and exceptionally rich, surprising and varied plant life. When we met up with Anne-Sophie, we immediately noticed the huge ‘Fanjan’ tree ferns that have become a symbol of this bountiful natural environment on the east side of the island.
Bélouve forest road is almost 18 kilometres long and leads all the way up to the famous Bélouve gite. That is the road we were to ride along on our electric MTB for our morning outing!
Before beginning our tour, Gaé gives us a brief introduction to riding these electric MTBs. How to adjust the seat, use the battery and the electric assistance, change gears, etc. Gaé also gives us some important advice on how to safely ride down the downhill section on the way back. We get to grips with the bikes very quickly and can’t wait to set off!
Bélouve forest, a land of stories and legends to explore!
Anne-Sophie then tells us about the programme and the route we’ll be taking on this heritage tour through Bélouve forest.
Just like lots of other places on Reunion Island, Bélouve is full of secrets and legends that will be revealed to you during this half-day tour. We get on our MTBs, equipped with a map, ready to begin the first stage of this sort of orienteering course!
Along the way, Anne-Sophie and Gaé give us riddles to solve. Sometimes we have to leave our bikes behind and venture along narrow paths that lead deep into Bélouve forest, looking for clues and parchment scrolls. Our whole team is out in force! We learn about the history of a famous forest ranger, we come face-to-face with the queen of the tamarinds… Adventures and legends lead the way as we go further into the forest and get higher up along the forest route towards the Bélouve Gite.
Late morning, we arrive at the breath-taking viewpoint overlooking the Cirque of Salazie and Piton des Neiges.
Anne-Sophie and Gaé get there first and congratulate us on solving the riddles along the way. They tell us about the panoramic view that stretches out before us, and then our little group stops off for a break at the bandstand to taste some ‘péi’ local products and specialities from the east of the island. They serve us with guava juice, homemade herbal tea and some sweet and savoury nibbles. We chat about our experience so far, and have a laugh about the riddles that really tested our brain power…
After this gourmet break, it’s time for the ride back down! We get back down to the car park in a matter of minutes. We pick up speed, whoosh past the scenery for a thrilling descent along this extremely pleasant route that winds through Bélouve forest. This forest still has so many secrets to unveil… We’ll be back to find out more!