La Reunion diary – part II

November 5, 2017
La Reunion Nikon Holidays Photo Adventures Traveling Hiking Night Sky Astrophotography

Finally! Second part of of pictures from our La Reunion Adventures. After calm beginning on the island we slowly started to discover south and middle part of La Reunion. First we visited Plage de Grande Anse, one of the most beautiful beaches I have seen. A small cove surrounded by volcano rocks with fine sand and coco palms. Like everywhere else on the island, sadly, swimming was prohibited because of sharks presence. During our trip we noticed that most of the island is converted to sugar cane fields and in September there is also a season for sugar cane harvest. I was quite surprised how tasty a raw sugar cane just taken from the field is. Unfortunately, we haven’t tried pressed sugar cane drink.

Following day we went for the Whale watching in Saint-Gilles, which is one of the biggest cities with massive port. Because whale watching is the biggest attraction during winter time on La Reunion, almost all trips were already booked week before. However, we were lucky and we got tickets 5 min before departure. We have seen some whales, unfortunately none of them was close enough to take a good quality picture.

Next point in our agenda was to visit the view point Le Maido. Le Maido is a peak situated 2200 m above sea level and has spectacular view to central part of the island – Mafate circus and Piton des Neiges – the highest peak in the Indian Ocean. To get there, from the place where we were staying, we had to drive through Forestiere des Tamarins – a forest, which at least during our trip, was all the time in the fog. As soon as we reached ~ 2000 m above sea level clouds disappeared and we could enjoy a perfect view of island and clouds. The view point itself is very well accessible by car and has even a bus connection. We also decided to hike slightly towards Grand Bénare peak, 2898 m, but we did not reach the peak itself.

After Le Maido, already prepared and ready for the most challenging hike of our life we went to Cilaos, a small village inside the island. The road from south coast to Cilaos is one of the most beautiful roads on the island and has ~400 turns. We left our car at the parking spot in Le Bloc and started almost 5h hike to Gîte du Piton des Neiges – a mountain shelter close to Piton des Neiges. We spent a night there in the room with other 18 people but before the bedtime we have gazed the most dark night sky I’ve seen. Shelter is placed ~2500 m above sea level and also above all kind of clouds. Sky was perfectly clear and there was no light pollution source in the closest neighborhood. For the first time I have seen the South Cross – one of the star constellations which is not visible from the north hemisphere. Most of the people we met in the shelter were very determined to reach Piton des Neiges summit before the sunrise. We decided to watch the sunrise from the hut and started our 3 h hike to the summit afterwards. The closer we were to the summit the less vegetation we’ve seen. At the peak (3070 m) there were only volcano rocks and dust. However, the view from the mountain was stunning. Because we got there around 9 am we could see the whole island and not only sunrise and clouds. Piton des Neiges is the old volcano which ~100 000 years ago formed 2/3 of the island and since then is inactive. When the area around the volcano collapsed formed huge holes, circuses, around the peak. Funny fact, the name of the mountain comes from the fact that this is the only place on the island where you can expect snow from time to time.. During 2 days we made almost 3000 m up and down. Honestly speaking I was so burned out that I could barely move. Hence, we decided to spent a night in Cilaos just to regenerate a bit before continuing our adventures. Cilaos turned to be a small and quite village with not too many attractions but because of the location is a perfect place for all hikers. We left Cilaos next day towards Le Volcan which will be in the next and last part of this diary. This time there is more pictures, better resolution you will be able to find on Flickr soon.