Right in the heart of the Indian Ocean, 800 km east of Madagascar, Reunion, along with Mauritius and Rodrigues, forms the Mascarene Islands. Reunion island is like a mountain resting on the surface of the Indian Ocean, just like the Piton des Neiges, rising to 3,069 meters. An active volcano, the famous Piton de la Fournaise wakes up periodically, and you can admire the magnificence of the lava flow in total safety. Reunion is the ideal destination if you are a fan of nature! Here is why:
The beautiful countryside of Mafate
The circus of Mafate is a natural site of the island of Reunion. In Reunion, they call it the caldera which is is a volcanic depression surrounded by mountains. Mafate is located in the communes of Saint Paul and Possession. It is one of three the wild circus on the island (Mafata, Cilaos and Salazie).
Mafate is classified as World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The beauty of its sites is renowned. It is ideal for nature lovers because it is essentially within walking distance. Good walkers will create wonderful memories in this magical place. This place offers beautiful landscapes for hiking in the heart of unspoiled nature. There are nearly 140 km of trails with cottages for possible overnight stays. It is bounded by the wall of Maïdo, the peak Salazie to the east and south and the bulwark of the plain of Affouches in the north.
Hiking enthusiasts will enjoy the wild side of nature and stunning vegetation found there with trees and unique shrubs, ferns or orchids. Nature evolves depending on the location of the circus. In other sites we find agaves, lantana or wild mango.
Note that most of the hiking is along the entire surface of the circus. So if you come to tire along the way, know that the helicopter is the only way to pick you up. It is therefore advised to prepare your hiking when attempting the discovery of Mafate. There is plenty to see and do in Mafate. You can discover the fantastic forest of Tamarins, Roche-Plate, the church of the New, the gateway of Oussy arm, bell cayenne or Plaine des Sable among others.
The best places to visit in Mafate
Mafate has many places to show you. However there is the unavoidable site. The plain of Tamarins is a hiking trail that connects several islets to fork collar. You will discover the forest Tamarins where trees and mist are one.
Three Rocks is a natural form of rock mass that turns into the abyss where the river empties itself resulting in beautiful cascades. The lookout Maido is located on the heights of Saint Paul. It offers stunning views of the islets on the west side circus. The plateau is a rather wooded site with the presence of waterfalls located southeast of the circus. The Bronchard is a highest peak at over 1250 meters above sea level in the heart of the Piton des Neiges.
Mafate is the wildest but also the most isolated among the circuses. The islets, residential group are still present on the circus trays. There are about 800 inhabitants. You can, during your hike, stop there and meet the Reunionese people which are great persons.
The Reunionese of Mafate still live according to the traditions and in harmony with nature. The difficulty of access is such that very few doctors move there. They then use plants as natural remedies. Each plant has its function and virtues and these therapy are transmitted from generation to generation.
This place, remains one of the most authentic of the island of Reunion. Yet, do not conclude they do not have modern comfort! Mafate is an ideal place for expert hikers. This getaway in nature ensures wonderful memories and photos.
The Iron Hole (Trou de fer), a beautiful canyon
Magnificent, gorgeous, Those words are not enough to describe this marvel of nature! The Iron Hole is considered the most majestic canyon of the island! If its strange name appeals to you, this is normal: the Trou de Fer is actually a geological depression of the Piton des Neiges, which as its name suggests, form a gap (or “hole”) over 300 meters depth. It is surrounded by many irregular rivers and many waterfalls, with the most spectacular falling at 725 meters, a record for the French territory.
The Iron Hole trail
To discover the Trou de Fer, you can take a path through the forest whose starting point is at the lodging of Belouve. If the path appears not too difficult to access, it remains a long one. Keep in mind that you will need at least 3 hours for a walk round trip, so avoid to hike in the afternoon.
The path was entirely done by the workers of the N.F.O (National Forestry Office). Already four kilometers of the 6 kilometers that make up the path are covered walkway. Its wood slabs allow adventurers not to slip because the path is often covered in mud. Anyway, in the end you will still have muddy shoes, so strap on yourself accordingly!
Moreover, after 20 minutes of hiking, take the time to make a slight detour. You can contemplate the impressive “Reine des Tamarins” which is 300 years old. When you finally reach it, you feel like you’re being rewarded after such a walk –the long awaited lookout where you can admire the Iron Hole background and beautiful waterfalls. But you should know that the Iron Hole is often covered in mist, which can sometimes ruin visibility. A little patience, clouds are capricious.
The helicopter Ride
Sometimes the beauty is unattainable when you are exploring these lands on foot. And yes, Reunion Island hides a lot of secrets and Iron hole is well guarded. To enjoy its charm, it is essential to watch it from above. Do not miss the helicopter ride if you have the occasion to try it! Flying over the site will give you a better view of the huge canyon! So think about it!
Have fun in Reunion Island!