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IRT / E. VIRIN

ISLAND

IRT / STUDIO LUMIÈRE

REUNION

i Formica Leo crater at the Piton de la Fournaise f Cirques and ramparts under UNESCO protection g A big lake

A PARADISE THAT WILL TAKE YOUR BREATH AWAY

Text°°° CLAUDE HERVÉ-BAZIN

072 | THIRTY DEGREES

Nearly three sweaty hours later and the refuge is still not in sight. The muggy cloak of the Grand Maturum forest is long forgotten, replaced by the mists and cool breezes that dance around us as we climb towards the ramparts of the Piton des Neiges (Snowy Peak). Here, the highest point of the island (3071m), rubs shoulders with the clouds but does not live up to its name as snow is rare, very rare. However, the climb is one of the island’s most difficult. The twists and turns, the cliffs and the 1200 metres of hilly terrain are particularly tiring. Yet we set off again at 4am the next day. We finish the climb with headlamps on, numb from cold and sleepiness, in time to watch the sun rise. Magnificent. Below, the cirque de Cilaos is bathed in shade. The rockiest of Reunion’s three cauldrons,

,

IRT / E. VIRIN

Rising out of the Indian Ocean near Mauritius, Reunion Island has the most spectacular landscapes imaginable. In the middle, a combination of terrestrial movements and erosion have formed three vast cirques, which are a challenge to reach. On the nearby slopes, the Piton de la Fournaise (Furnace Peak) bubbles on a regular basis.

which form a cloverleaf shape in the middle of the island, can also be reached by a road that was blasted out by dynamite. According to popular opinion, there are over 400 bends between the coast and the peak – but who’s counting? A westward glance from the lookout at Grand Bénare (2898 m) reveals another cirque, Mafate. It is the most difficult to reach and can only be visited on foot. Long ago, the “brown” slaves pursued by the “little whites” sought refuge there. Their descendants are still there, hanging on to their plots of giraumon (marrow) and geraniums (distilled as essence) in hamlets of just a few houses. The sure-footed children gently mock the Zoreilles (nickname for the metropolitan French) they meet on the GR1 hiking trail, with their Gore-Tex and hiking boots... The most popular hiking route links the three cirques from

THIRTY DEGREES | 073

N° 32 – Autumn 2010  

30 ° degrees, the Swiss magazine of sports and recreation, 10 years of reporting, news, interviews, in 3 languages ​​F / D / E, also avaliab...

N° 32 – Autumn 2010  

30 ° degrees, the Swiss magazine of sports and recreation, 10 years of reporting, news, interviews, in 3 languages ​​F / D / E, also avaliab...

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