29?°C in the air, as much in the water, an exuberant vegetation on all sides: a true Garden of Eden, it would not be surprising if Reunion Island and its tropical climate had been a paradise for the first explorers. Nevertheless, the island's current landscape has been shaped above all by the men who have planted the vast majority of the fruits found on the market stalls. Coconut trees and filaos undulating under the trade winds, orchards filled with mangoes and lychees, cascades of jacarandas and frangipani trees scenting the atmosphere and colouring the green carpets of the valleys... It is a real explosion of colours and scents that takes place at every moment. But if the fine sand of the western beaches and their multicoloured fish and coral seabed make it an ideal seaside destination, "?l' île intense?" cannot be satisfied with this simple tropical setting. Apart from snow and glaciers (although...), these southern regions bring together almost all the landscapes and climates that nature has created. It is in the interior, in the secret of its lands, that Reunion Island reveals itself in all its splendour: with its arduous mountains, the highest in the Indian Ocean, its primary forests, its endemic fauna and flora with no dangerous species, its cobble rivers, its deep ravines, its lunar plains...
The paradise of hiking :
Reunion Island is best enjoyed on foot. It is by crapahutant that we go back in time, that we rub shoulders with traditions and that we discover an art of living in constant relationship with nature.Three circuses, Salazie, Cilaos and Mafate, are located in the heart of the island. With their waterfalls nestled in rugged landscapes, lush ramparts, mountain villages and miles of hiking trails, they have been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since August 2010. Many hamlets (called islets) are only accessible on foot. In the middle of the circuses, the Piton des Neiges, the highest peak in the Indian Ocean, offers a breathtaking view. Around it, the savannah, marshes, cliffs, peaks and fields extend as far as the eye can see, while around the peak of the Fournaise, the vast sandy and desert areas take over. The volcano, one of the most active in the world, delivers its breathtaking fireworks, a glowing eruption of the bowels of the earth, about once a year. With more or less long and difficult trails, the whole island is a magnificent playground for Sunday walkers and professional trekkers alike. More than 1 000?km of paths maintained by the NFB stretch under your feet: it would be a shame not to take advantage of them.Cyclonic phenomena have resumed again and 2018 was marked by strong wind and rain episodes. Before going on a hike, remember to visit the NFB website to find out the condition of the trails: www.onf.fr/la-reunion
© Dominique Auzias & Jean-Paul Labourdette