-A +A

Piton des Neiges

The soul of Reunion Island

Piton des Neiges Serge Gélabert

At an altitude of 3,071 above sea level, Piton des Neiges is considered the highest peak in the Indian Ocean.

The volcano, which has been dormant for centuries, is captivating due to its majestic presence in the centre of the island. The highest peak in Reunion Island, Piton des Neiges is a good hiking destination. The ideal opportunity to explore wonderfully preserved nature.

Reunion Island is synonymous with Piton des Neiges. Indeed, the volcano, which has been dormant for 120 centuries, is the origin of the creation of two thirds of the island, more than three million years ago. Eroded by time and the absence of volcanic activity, it still remains the highest summit in the island, at 3,071 metres above sea level. However, its name is deceptive, because this island rooftop is rarely covered in a white blanket of snow: there is no permanent snow cover and snowfall is in fact very rare. Nonetheless, it is cold and hikers who want to climb it must ensure they are well equipped.

Climbing and hiking

It is possible to climb the volcano's mythical flanks from Plaine des Cafres or Salazie cirque. But in general, the valiant walkers leave from Cilaos cirque, which is also in the centre of the island. They then make a pit stop at Piton des Neiges' only gîte, the unmissable refuge de la Caverne Dufour. After a good night's rest in one of its four dormitories (48 beds in total) and a hearty meal, they get up very early, before dawn, to cross the last kilometres before reaching the summit. After about an hour, their efforts are rewarded. They watch the sun rise across almost the entire island, with the Indian Ocean on the horizon, its turquoise waters merging with the sky. Down below, the Mafate cirques (in the northwest), Salazie (in the northeast) and Cilaos (in the south) are also wakening from their slumber. They were formed after the collapse of Piton des Neiges' vent: the subsidence has created huge cliffs, which have then been partially filled by the flow of lava escaping from the volcano.

Tourist excursions

A tourist excursion to this revered peak enables an even more in-depth discovery of Reunion Island and offers a magical spectacle to visitors, who will never forget this unique experience. They are not the only ones to appreciate this extraordinary environment, which they take care to preserve during their journey.

Piton des Neiges, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

In 2010, UNESCO included Reunion Island's volcanic peaks, cirques and ramparts in its list of natural World Heritage Sites, due to their outstanding universal value. Piton des Neiges can continue to sleep peacefully in the knowledge that its natural heritage is well protected, since it is also part of Reunion Island's National Park.

The "Piton des Neiges" may continue to sleep in peace, its natural heritage is protected well, for it is also part of the "Parc national de La Réunion".