It’s not just paradise beaches that have made Reunion Island’s reputation. The island is criss-crossed by numerous trails. There is something for all abilities. A guaranteed change of scenery !
Small in size, but huge in its natural wealth! Reunion Island, with a surface area of 2,500 km², has more than 900 km of marked trails for hikers, whether you are a beginner or experienced. They traverse a very diverse environment, with breathtaking beauty: dense rain forest in the east; savannah or sugar cane fields in the west, lunar landscapes on the volcanoes; walks along the shoreline, etc. A destination so exceptional that its volcanic peaks, craters and ramparts have been classified as natural World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. Reunion Island’s unmissable hiking trail leads all the way to the majestic Piton de la Fournaise. Each year, around 400,000 visitors set off to take on the famous volcano, each one at their own pace. To reach the summit, which peaks at 2,632 metres above sea level, you have to walk the entire path, which starts from the beaches and, in two hours, leads you to the craters, passing through the rain forest and lunar landscapes of Plaine des Sables.
A discovery trail has been established so that visitors can learn about the formation of the volcanic island. Mountain guides, specialists in geology, fauna and flora, can also accompany hikers, at the same time sharing their knowledge. An even more exhilarating and unforgettable experience.
Furthermore, Reunion Island has three long-distance hiking trails endorsed by the Fédération française de randonnée pédestre [French Hiking Federation]. The GR R1 (60 km) takes a route around Piton des Neiges and past the Salazie, Mafate and Cilaos craters. The GR R2 (130 km) crosses the island from north to south, from the coastline to the highest summits (Piton des Neiges and Piton de la Fournaise). The R3 (38 km) crosses the Mafate crater, a site that is accessible only on foot, a breathtaking and authentic walk… thanks to the fact that you will get to meet some of the inhabitants of the islets, the little villages that are scattered across the interior of the National Park. Because discovering Reunion Island would not be complete without receiving a warm welcome from the hosts of one of the lodges dotted along the walking trails or a typical French-Reunion gîte, where you can enjoy a well-deserved meal after a day’s walking !
Reunion, a hiker’s paradise.
Whatever your ability level, discover Reunion Island through its kids’ trails, family walks, or why not a night or beachfront walk; and for the more experienced, the more hilly trails.
Accompanied by experienced guides or on your own, mountain lodges and guest houses offer hospitality and a friendly welcome, for a well-deserved meal. Heritage, culture, gastronomy, wellness… Reunion Island holds the promise of unforgettable moments, enjoyed in safety. All the pleasures are found at the crossing of the ways.
TOP 6 HIKING TRAILS IN REUNION ISLAND
Reunion Island is to hikers what the ocean is to divers – a playground! With so many hiking trails to choose from, your level of experience is sure to be catered to and will allow you to enjoy the peace, quiet and unforgettable views and landscapes that are on offer. Whether you’re taking a romantic hike as a couple, a group hike with friends or a family hike with the little ones, you’re sure to find a trail that suits your needs.
Here are the top six hiking trails to try out when you visit Reunion Island.
Distance: 3 km
Approximate duration: 1h45min
Quick and easy, this is the perfect trail for novice hikers, families with small children or anyone who is looking for a bite-sized experience of the Reunion Island trails. Hikers will also have the opportunity to see the beautiful Ravenala plants that line the path, and without steep hills or cliffs on the route, it is an ideal trail to stop and have a picnic along the way.
Col des Boeufs – La Nouvelle
Distance: 11 km
Approximate duration: 4h35min
Named after the previous focus of the economy, cattle husbandry, the Col des Boeufs trail is long in distance and duration, but fortunately an easy trail. It is still common today to see the oxen below the pass, along with a forest of ancient evergreen trees sometimes drowned in the mists – all creating a fantastic atmosphere to enjoy throughout the hike.
Canalisation des Orangers
Distance: 28 km
Approximate duration: 8h20min
Although this used to be a narrow and dangerous path, it is now one of the most popular hikers’ trails in Reunion Island due to how level it is across most of its distance. For more experienced hikers who are used to endurance trails, the Canalisation des Orangers trail offers a delightful view of the Cirque de Mafate over an immense balcony, along with breathtaking views of villages below, mountain ranges and the river.
Distance: 10 km
Sometimes known as “the little Mafate”, this is a classic choice for hikers in Reunion Island. In summer it brings with it the opportunity to bathe in the pool of the Veil of the Bride waterfall, which is a perfect way to cool down before attempting the climb up to Bois Court, where there is a panoramic view of the waterfall, bathing pond and the very trail that led you to that point.
Distance: 4 km
Duration: 5 hours
Not for the faint of heart, this is one of Reunion Island’s more challenging trails. It allows you to hike up the very volcano that forms the island and results in a view where you are able to see the huge chimney and split crater of the ancient volcano itself.
Nez de Boeuf-Roche Plate (rivière des remparts)
Distance: 15 km
Duration: 7 hours
Long in both distance and duration, the rewards of hiking this trail far outweigh the difficulty that accompanies it. Starting at the base of the volcano, the trail sees a descent into the river ramparts, which offer a view overlooking the valley and eventually cross into a tropical forest. This trail is so special because it allows hikers the opportunity to experience the many elements that make Reunion Island such a beautifully diverse landscape.
Things to remember for your hike
Whether you’ve decided to embark on a short or long trail, always remember to pack the right goods for your trip. Water, sunblock, a hat and good shoes are essential no matter the level of difficulty or the duration. If you opt for one of the longer trails, pack some snacks too.
Planning your route is important as well. With many of the highland locations, you’ll have to make an early start or else clouds could obscure the beautiful views that make the hikes so worth it. It is also advisable that trails shouldn’t be attempted alone.