Plaine des Sables

I walked on the moon in Reunion Island
  • Intensely Volcanic
  • The volcano

The Kingdom of Vulcan

The route that leads to the Piton de la Fournaise crosses through a lunar landscape: Plaine des Sables, a stretch of scorch marks and volcanic rocks at more than 2,000 above sea level.

The destination of today’s walk is none other than Piton de la Fournaise, one of the highlights of Reunion Island’s stunning natural landscape and one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Even when she is not erupting, Her Majesty la Fournaise is worth the visit, not least because the route which leads there crosses such stunning scenery!

First of all it climbs through a forest of cryptomerias, conifers with straight trunks, which quickly gives way to vegetation stunted by the cool temperature and the altitude. The road is now a track, in the middle of a landscape where volcanic rock is everywhere.


A plain between heaven and earth

We arrive at Pas des Sables, on the edge of a rampart, 2,350m above sea level. A breathtaking panorama opens up before us: a desert full of scorch marks with reddish reflections, just like the surface of the moon. Plaine des Sables stretches out beneath our eyes!

The sea of clouds borders both ends, in the North and the South. For several kilometres, the arid plain seems poised between heaven and earth. The rock and volcanic sand take on different colours depending on the sunlight. Sometimes swept by banks of mist, or drowned under downfalls in the austral summer, it’s a continually changing spectacle.


The Kingdom of Vulcan

As we cross Plaine des Sables it feels like we’re walking on the Moon. The end of the route approaches: Pas de Bellecombe, a belvedere on the summit of Piton de la Fournaise (2,632m above sea level). The volcano sits majestically in the middle of a high rampart in the shape of a horseshoe, the Enclos, created by the many collapses which have marked the geological history of the massif.

Leaning on the guardrail, I let my gaze wander to the bottom of the Enclos which bears the marks of thousands of eruptions. The black traces of recent lava flows cover the rock washed out by the bad weather caused by older volcanic eruptions. Everywhere you can make out the hellish shapes of solidified magma. It’s like an incredible sculpture park that you should see at least once in your life!

Magnificent and spectacular landscape

Piton De La Fournaise: one of the most active volcanoes in the world

Immerse yourself in a fantastic universe