The 360 degree view is worth it!
At 3,071 meters above sea level, perched above the clouds, Piton des Neiges offers breathtaking views of Reunion Island and the Indian Ocean.
Climbing Piton des Neiges is quite unlike any other hike. My heart beats a bit faster, on this early afternoon, on the trail that starts above the village of Cilaos. Tomorrow morning, I will be above the clouds, on the roof of the Indian Ocean!
The approach walk starts under the shade of the forest. Imperceptibly, the slope becomes steeper. As we round the bends, several stunning viewpoints of the cirque appear behind us. Then the vegetation becomes more rare, the big trees are replaced by shrubs. Volcanic rock appears everywhere.
Frost and volcanic slag
The sun is already setting on the horizon when we arrive at the Caverne Dufour refuge, 2,400 meters above sea level. We feel the cold of the southern winter as the night sets in. Quick, get to the table, for a good cari to warm us up!
Well before dawn the next morning, I gulp down a hot coffee before the final ascent – so eagerly awaited. In the light of our headlamps, we set off on the rocky path dotted with white patches, the frost sparkling on the volcanic slag. The sky begins to light up toward the east as we reach the summit of Piton des Neiges after two hours of climbing.
Dawn of the world
What a reward! The first glimmers of day reveal the amazing landscape of Reunion Island and outline the silhouette of the ramparts and pitons. Way down below, urban lights show the villages still asleep. As far as the eye can see, the ocean. Soon the sun peaks over the horizon and casts its light on a breathtaking scene. Under our feet, the red rock of the summit, 3,071 meters above sea level. To the south-east, the summit of Piton de la Fournaise lights up in turn. Little by little, the green backdrop of the cirques comes out of the shadow. Seeing the dawn of the world fills me with emotion. The sun rises quickly in the sky and sadly the time to start the descent approaches. I feel like I’ve had my fill of beauty and energy for a whole year!