West of the Piton de La Fournaise, one of the most active volcanoes in the world, is the Plaine des Sables, a vast desert area made of solidified lava and lunar landscapes. As anywhere near the volcano, no vegetation is obstructing the hike except some "branles verts" (Erica reunionensis) around the Piton Rouge. I wouldn't advise anyone to do that hike when the fog comes up.
This is a short (10 km) hike that can be done with the entire family across pastures and woods. The trail is constantly closed to the village and it can quickly be reached in case of rainfall. There are two small hills to add a touch of difficulty to that nice and easy hike.
That trip was made in four days, from December 20th to the 23rd, with three days by boat on the canal and one day by train to come back to Tamatave, the point of departure. The Canal des Pangalanes, one of the longest canals in the world, is a series of man made canals linking natural lakes and rivers running down the east coast of Madagascar for over 600 kilometers.
Part of this hike is done on old trails which are still used nowadays by old folks. The contrast is huge between the dry area at the bottom, hardly cultivated now, and the green sugar-cane fiels near the top. A couple of sleeping villages are crossed on the way up as well as on the way down, and water and food can easily be found.
Le Tombeau du Géant (The Giant's Tomb), is so named because one of the bends in the Semois at this point seems to enclose a coffin of gigantic proportions. This hike doesn't go around the tomb, as the usual hike, but goes through. At the highest altitude inside the tomb, an esoteric pyramid can be found without too much explanation regarding the reason for its location.
After arriving at Étang-Salé, a short visit can be made to the pond in the center of the village that gave its name to the village. Then just head to the coast and start the hike between the two cities. No chance of getting lost as the trail is well marked. It is first of all very nice in the rocks by the sea and then mostly on sand all the way to Bel Air.
Certainly not among all the well-known trails to get to the volcano but it's without any doubts one of the most interesting. It starts at Bras des Calumets and, after going through the village, you walk into a cryptomeria forest that will lead you up to an altitude of 1800 meters where you enter into the Parc de La Réunion and the tropical forest.
This is a walk more than a hike. It's right next to the city of Saint-Paul, but nevertheless somehow remote. It's a nice and quite walk that'll take you around part of the old pound and through the site of the now demolished 428 meter-Omega antenna that overlooked the Bay of Saint-Paul until 1999.
This hike is similar to the one done on March 24th, very near by, and also taking old trails no longer used by locals but a few tourists. Concrete parts have been built within the last ten years for agricultural machinery operating in sugar plantations. Nevertheless, nature is still present and papangs "Réunion harriers" can be seen hunting over the Ravine "gully"de la Fontaine.
|Total distance||21762 km13522 mi|
|Max distance||10472 km6507 mi|
|Avg distance||659 km410 mi|
|Total duration||10 days 17h:09m|
|Max duration||2 days 11h:41m|