First Summit

After having started the tour in St. Denis, the capital of Réunion, the first high point is the Roche Ecrite (2276 m), high above the Cirque de Salazie.

Second Summit

Across from Roche Ecrite, on the other side of the cirque, sits the island's highest mountain, Piton des Neiges (3071 m). So close, but still a week further down the trail.
Summit of Roche Ecrite From Roche Ecrite


Not far from the Gîte de la Plaine des Chicots and beyond a small swampy pond called Mare aux Cerfs, a path leads to the edge with a look over the Cirque de Mafate.


Wild animals are rare on Réunion, except of birds. Most impressive are the huge spiders, which are, according to the book, not dangerous.
Cirque de Mafate Spider


Here and there in the lower regions of Réunion the bamboo reaches impressive dimensions, both in stem diameter and in height.

Full Moon

From Grand-Place, a village in the Cirque de Mafate. The scene is only lit by the full moon.
Bamboo Full Moon


Quick erosion due to the soft volcanic soil and extreme rainfalls during the monsoon carve deep cñnons into the island. The resistance of hard lava flows leads to the formation of waterfalls, such as the Les Cascades Bras-Rouge.

Grand-Bras de Cilaos Grand-Bras de Cilaos


A church in Cilaos. There are a great many churches on the island.


Cilaos in the cirque of the same name is a small city compared to the many villages, some of which are only accessible by foot or helicopter.
Church in Cilaos Cilaos


The Cirque of Cilaos with some Passat clouds hanging over it. The city has its origin in the presence of hot springs. A road was built for better access of the spa.



Olive White-Eye, stretching its head off for the sweet taste. A Red Fody sits high on an electric cable.
Olvie White-Eye Red Fody


Piton des Neiges is the highest point of Réunion. The volcanic activity, however, has been replaced by erosion a long time ago.

Piton des Neiges

To the Volcano

From the hut underneath Piton des Neiges visitors have a good view at the active volcano in the south, which sits in its caldera like in a nest.


This is the look before sunrise during the ascent on Piton des Neiges: dark clouds above the ocean with the sky above becoming more and more brighter.
Fournaise from Neiges From Caverne Dufour


That's me on the summit of Piton des Neiges after sunrise. My shadow, of course.

Above the Cirque

The sun is up, but it will take a while until it reaches the whole of the Cirque de Mafate.
On Summit of Piton des Neiges From Piton des Neiges


Looks like Louis Armstrong on the Moon, but it's the final stretch to the summit of Piton des Neiges.


The sun is up over the Indian Ocean, a quick process in the tropics and a grand sight.
Descent from Piton des Neiges Sunrise from Piton des Neiges


The active volcano Piton des Fournaise sits inside a horseshoe-shaped caldera having a 3-5 km radius. It's open side is tilted to the Indian Ocean.

Piton de la Fournaise


The glassy lava at the crater rim shines in all colors. My shoes do no longer shine.


The GR2 trail is marked with a red/white sign.
Lava Trail Marker


A cinder cone on the slopes of Piton de la Fournaise. The steep slopes are the result of either erosion or the good sticking properties of gas-poor lava. With little remaining gas the lava travels only far enough to escape the top, then lands on the slope and remains stuck.

Steep Cone

This one is special. It takes a little climbing to get to the top; from up there you see that it is hollow, not exactly a cinder cone but the blow-out of a lava tunnel, a so-called spatter cone.
Cinder Cone Lava

David and Goliath

Two volcanoes, the little Formica Léo and the giant Piton de la Fournaise. Actually, Formica Léo doesn't really qualify as a volcano, it is part of its big brother and the result of a single eruption back in 1753.

Formica Léo

This rather young cinder cone lies right on the way to Piton de la Fournaise and is the first attraction to be climbed by many of the tourists before they head on to the big one.
Piton de la Fournaise Formica Leo

Big Crater

During the unusually big eruption in 2007 the crater floor collapsed into the emptied magma chamber, leaving behind a much bigger hole than before, a gaping abyss way better suited for the a big volcano such as Piton de la Fournaise.

Crater of Piton de la Fournaise

Down to the Sea

Two looks down the opposite side of the crater rim, down the horseshoe-shaped caldera, which lava-covered floor is tilted towards the Indian Ocean. The Passat forms clouds, but thankfully today these clouds do not reach up to the summit.

From Piton de la Fournaise From Piton de la Fournaise

Another Planet

A little photoshopping makes the caldera floor look like Mars or Moon. The younger lava flows are of a darker shade.

Caldera Floor


The tropical forests of Réunion are the home for many orchids, including vanilla, also an orchid, albeit originating from America.


Many plants have an exotic look, and surely this is true for this tree trunk.
Orchid Tree Trunk


The Indian Ocean at Basse-Vallée, of course shaped by lava flows. The place is called Cape Méchant.


A group of palm-trees covers the back of the port in St Gilles les Baines, one of the tourist places on the west coast of Réunion.
Coast Palms


Evening. The sun is low over the horizon in St. Dennis. Now, in September, the temperature is around twenty deg C and refreshing in the ocean wind.


Apart from the often high waves of the Indian Ocean, the sharp corals that cut deep into the flesh, there are still other nuisances in the form of sharks that spoil the idea of swimming in the blue waters.
Sundown Beach