Reunion is a fascinating island where you can find different climates on a very small scale.  The main climate zone is subtropical-oceanic but especially around the volcanoes you can find lots of different micro-climates. On the island are 19 main-ecosystems with 110 vegetation types ranging from rain and cloud forests to palm-savanna and heath, almost 50 % of the plants are endemic (only growing on this island).
The fauna was decimated by humans to less than 50% of the species. There are still 78 species of birds (7 which are endemic), 10 mammals of which only 2 were local (6 bats, 2 rats, 1 mouse and an animal called tenrec (Tenrec ecaudatus) similar to hedgehogs) and 6 reptiles. Also there are more than 500 species of butterflies living on Reunion.
All of this was the reason that the mountains, the cirques (the collapsed magma chambers) and the valleys of Reunion are a world heritage site since 2010 and under special protection. The most valuable  on Reunion is definitely the primary forest which still covers one third of the island – not like in Rodriguez and Mauritius where it is almost all gone. Probably because the first settlers only came in 1650, there was always volcanic activity, the ground was very hard to work with and in lot of areas not really accessible. A primary forest is a type of forest which has never been influenced by humans and therefor is very interesting for biologists.

01_View_towards_the_famous_primary_forests_of_Foret_de_Bebour_and_Belouve
01_View_towards_the_famous_primary_forests_of_Foret_de_Bebour_and_Belouve
02_A_small_river_in-the_Foret_de_Belouve
02_A_small_river_in-the_Foret_de_Belouve
03_Spectacular_view_towards_the_Cirque_de_Salazie
03_Spectacular_view_towards_the_Cirque_de_Salazie
04_The_old_forest_cable_car_down_towards_the_Cirque_de_Salazie
04_The_old_forest_cable_car_down_towards_the_Cirque_de_Salazie
05_Waterfalls_in_the_Cirque_de_Salazie
05_Waterfalls_in_the_Cirque_de_Salazie
06_Hiking_towards_the_Trou_de_fer_(Iron_Hole)_waterfall
06_Hiking_towards_the_Trou_de_fer_(Iron_Hole)_waterfall
07_Famous_Trou_de_Fer_is_300m_deep
07_Famous_Trou_de_Fer_is_300m_deep
08_You_see_plenty_of_big_tree_farns_in_Foret_de_Belouve_and_Bebour
08_You_see_plenty_of_big_tree_farns_in_Foret_de_Belouve_and_Bebour
09_Leaves_of_the_endemic_tamarin_des_hauts_(Acacia_heterophylla-Höhentamarinde)
09_Leaves_of_the_endemic_tamarin_des_hauts_(Acacia_heterophylla-Höhentamarinde)
10_Close_up_of_the_trunk_of_a_tree_fern
10_Close_up_of_the_trunk_of_a_tree_fern
11_Tec_tec_(Saxicola tectes)_seen_in_Foret_de_Belouve
11_Tec_tec_(Saxicola tectes)_seen_in_Foret_de_Belouve
12_Our_mud_adventure_hike_through_the_Foret_de_Bebour
12_Our_mud_adventure_hike_through_the_Foret_de_Bebour

To visit this special forest was definitely a must for us. During two hiking trips we trudged through ankle deep mud to be rewarded by a beautiful view in the end. Then first hike started at the viewpoint “Gite de Belouve” at the end of the forest street through the high mountain forest “Foret de Bebour/Belouve”. Here you have  a fantastic view across one of the three cirques, the collapsed magma chambers of the dormant volcano “Piton de Neige”. You see the “Cirque de Salazie” which can only be accessed by one street in the north of the island. And you have to get there real early before the first clouds start to move into the valley. There are two ways to reach this viewpoint because you can only walk on the ways which have been cleaned by the forest department. Otherwise the forest is just too dense. Sadly due to the daily rain and the high air humidity the walkways are wet all the time and look more like mud slides. Anyway we chose this muddy way to see big parts of the special forest and were full of mud after our hike. The forest is really fantastic with a lot of different species of moss and lichens, which hang on the trees, the huge tree ferns (Cyathea glauca), the endemic highland tamarind (Acacia heterophylla), the endemic Calumet-bamboo and a lot of orchids, which we sadly didn't see in bloom. After 2,5 hours we reached the viewpoint “Trou de Fer” or Iron Hole where you can see the big waterfall. Every once in a while you can watch a helicopter flying his round inside the hole.

13_Lichen_and_moss_on_the_trees_of_the_primary_forest
13_Lichen_and_moss_on_the_trees_of_the_primary_forest
14_Grande_Mare_a_marshland_in_the_Foret_de_Belouve
14_Grande_Mare_a_marshland_in_the_Foret_de_Belouve
15_Fernleave_in_Foret_de_Bebour
15_Fernleave_in_Foret_de_Bebour
16_Unbelievable_view_towards_Foret_de_Bebour_on_our_way_to_the_Viewpoint_towards_Takamaka
16_Unbelievable_view_towards_Foret_de_Bebour_on_our_way_to_the_Viewpoint_towards_Takamaka
17_One_of_many_Calla_flowers_(Calla_palustris-Sumpfcalla)_on_our_way_through_the_cloud_forest_of_Foret_de_Bebour
17_One_of_many_Calla_flowers_(Calla_palustris-Sumpfcalla)_on_our_way_through_the_cloud_forest_of_Foret_de_Bebour
18_Viewpoint_at_Casse_de_Takamaka
18_Viewpoint_at_Casse_de_Takamaka
19_Bassin_des_Hirondelles_in_the_Foret_de_Bebour
19_Bassin_des_Hirondelles_in_the_Foret_de_Bebour
20_Takamaka_World_of_thousand_waterfalls
20_Takamaka_World_of_thousand_waterfalls
21_One_of_many_pools_in_the_valley_of_Takamaka_from_above
21_One_of_many_pools_in_the_valley_of_Takamaka_from_above

The second forest hike was in the lower part of the primary forest, the “Foret de Bebour”. This was a very exhausting hike due to the masses of mud on the way. At the end you have a view of the valley of Takamaka, where the abundance of water let to generate electric power and over 600 waterfalls can be counted. On the way back we stopped at the “Basin de Hirondelles”, a beautiful little pond in the middle of the forest. Since there are only a few primary forest left worldwide we enjoy the hours walking through the dense greenery.

22_Spectacular_street_into_de_Cirque_de_Cilaos_from_above
22_Spectacular_street_into_de_Cirque_de_Cilaos_from_above
23_Part_of_the_curious_street_towards_Cilaos_where_it_did_not_fit_together
23_Part_of_the_curious_street_towards_Cilaos_where_it_did_not_fit_together
24_Lentils_field_in_Cilaos
24_Lentils_field_in_Cilaos
25_Sieving_the_famous_lentils_in_Cilaos
25_Sieving_the_famous_lentils_in_Cilaos
26_And_the_houses_are_very_colorful_(Cilaos)
26_And_the_houses_are_very_colorful_(Cilaos)
27_And_more_typical_houses_in_Cilaos
27_And_more_typical_houses_in_Cilaos
28_A_hotel_and_an_old_wooden_house
28_A_hotel_and_an_old_wooden_house
29_The_church_of_Cilaos_in_front_of_the_3074_meter_high_Piton_de_Neige
29_The_church_of_Cilaos_in_front_of_the_3074_meter_high_Piton_de_Neige
30_Part_of_Cirque_de_Cilaos_(hike_to_La_Chapelle)
30_Part_of_Cirque_de_Cilaos_(hike_to_La_Chapelle)
31_Entrance_to_La_Chapelle_(Cirque_de_Cilaos)
31_Entrance_to_La_Chapelle_(Cirque_de_Cilaos)
32_La_Chapelle_illuminated_by_the_sun_at_around_midday
32_La_Chapelle_illuminated_by_the_sun_at_around_midday
33_Roots_with_algae_turning_them_red_(on_the_hike_to_La_Chapelle)
33_Roots_with_algae_turning_them_red_(on_the_hike_to_La_Chapelle)

We also visited the “Cirque de Cilaos” which is known for producing a special kind of lentils. Since the price of one kilo is about €16.- we decided not to buy any. But it is a necessary price to pay since the lentils are cultivated, harvested, sieved, cleaned and packed by hand. Quality has it's price. The street leading into the Cirque de Cilaos is an adventure itself. Often only wide enough for one car , with small tunnels and lots of serpentine’s. Arriving in Cilaos our first hike was to a waterfall called “Bras de Rouge”, but the waterfall is not visible from the hiking trail. The second and much longer hike we did was to a place called “Le Chapelle”, a canyon-cave which has  a few holes at the top. If you are there at the right time of the day the sun lights up the hole cave which then looks like a cathedral. But to reach this canyon you ave to hike up a longer stretch in the riverbed. It is definitely worth it because the sunlight inside the cave is beautiful.

34_The_three_guards_of_Cirque_de_Cilaos
34_The_three_guards_of_Cirque_de_Cilaos
35_Cirque_de_Mafate_from_above
35_Cirque_de_Mafate_from_above
36_View_into_Cirque_de_Mafat_from_Cap_Noir
36_View_into_Cirque_de_Mafat_from_Cap_Noir
37_Dos_de_Ane_and_Le_Port_in_the_background_(Cap_Noir)
37_Dos_de_Ane_and_Le_Port_in_the_background_(Cap_Noir)
38_Wonderful_panorama_of_Cirque_de_Mafat
38_Wonderful_panorama_of_Cirque_de_Mafat
39_Le_Grand_Etang_the_only_high_altitude_volcanic_lake_of_Reunion
39_Le_Grand_Etang_the_only_high_altitude_volcanic_lake_of_Reunion

The third of the cirques, the “Cirque de Mafat” can only be reached by foot or helicopter and therefor is a paradise for the real hiker. We only got to see it from above, first the viewpoint “Cap Noir” and later on our helicopter flight. If you want to see the whole cirque without clouds you also have to get up very early. On Cap Noir at the loop hike you have a few very good viewpoints into the “Cirque de Mafate” and also towards the ocean and the village of Le Port.

40_Reunion_Harrier_(Circus_maillardi-Reunionweihe)_an_endemic_and_endangered_bird_of_Reunion_at_Grand_Etang
40_Reunion_Harrier_(Circus_maillardi-Reunionweihe)_an_endemic_and_endangered_bird_of_Reunion_at_Grand_Etang
41_Marshlands_around_Le_Grand_Etang
41_Marshlands_around_Le_Grand_Etang
42_Tec_tec_(Saxicola_tectes)_warming_up_in_the_morning_sun
42_Tec_tec_(Saxicola_tectes)_warming_up_in_the_morning_sun
43_Beautiful_waterfalls_at_Le_Grand_Etang
43_Beautiful_waterfalls_at_Le_Grand_Etang
44_Rainbow_in_waterfall_at_Le_Grand_Etang
44_Rainbow_in_waterfall_at_Le_Grand_Etang
45_One_of_the_introduces_birds_a_common_waxbill_(Estrilda_astrild-Wellenastrild_Prachtfink)
45_One_of_the_introduces_birds_a_common_waxbill_(Estrilda_astrild-Wellenastrild_Prachtfink)
46_After_10am_the_clouds_of_the_cloud_forest_descend_on_the_waterfalls_at_Le_Grand_Etang
46_After_10am_the_clouds_of_the_cloud_forest_descend_on_the_waterfalls_at_Le_Grand_Etang

Also worth a trip is the “Le Grand Etang”, the biggest mountain lake of the island. The water level depends on the amount of rainfall and can be as high so that you can not go around or as low that the lake is almost gone. In the early morning hours you can observe birds of prey hunting for food and if you walk to the other end of the lake you can see three waterfalls, during the rainy season probably even more. There is one way leading directly under the waterfalls where there is enough space for a picnic.

48_View_of_Route_Littoral_(Le_Chemin_des_Anglais)
48_View_of_Route_Littoral_(Le_Chemin_des_Anglais)
49_Flowers_of_Agave_Furcraea_foetida_the_most_invasive_species_in_Reunion
49_Flowers_of_Agave_Furcraea_foetida_the_most_invasive_species_in_Reunion
50_St_Deniz_from_above_(Point_de_vue_de_Trois_bancs)
50_St_Deniz_from_above_(Point_de_vue_de_Trois_bancs)
51_Church_in_St_Deniz
51_Church_in_St_Deniz
52_Monument_next_to_the_motorway
52_Monument_next_to_the_motorway
53_The_in_baroque_style_decorated_Eglise_de_Sainte_Anne
53_The_in_baroque_style_decorated_Eglise_de_Sainte_Anne
54_The_inside_of_Eglise_de_Sainte-Anne_is_also_newly_decorated
54_The_inside_of_Eglise_de_Sainte-Anne_is_also_newly_decorated
56_The_old_bridge_
56_The_old_bridge_
57_Eglise_de_Saint-Benoir_is_a_nice_motive
57_Eglise_de_Saint-Benoir_is_a_nice_motive
58_Everywhere_you_find_signs_warning_especially_of_sharks_since_there_have_been_lots_of_accidents_lately
58_Everywhere_you_find_signs_warning_especially_of_sharks_since_there_have_been_lots_of_accidents_lately
59_Warning_signs_at_the_beaches_around_Reunion
59_Warning_signs_at_the_beaches_around_Reunion
60_The_famous_Eglise_was_hit_by_a_lava_stream_but_it_stopped_in_front_of_the_altar
60_The_famous_Eglise_was_hit_by_a_lava_stream_but_it_stopped_in_front_of_the_altar

To catch a glimpse of the steep northern cliff and experience the steppe climate you can choose to walk along the “Le Chemin des Anglais”. St. Deniz in the north and St. Paul in the west are the two big settlements and have only been connected on land by a paved road for horses and draft animals in the year 1732. In 1810 the road was used by the English during their fight against the French, that is were the name comes from. One can still see parts of the paved road and after 1,5 km you can see the so called Littoral and the new highway from a viewpoint.
There are plenty of other walks and hikes and things to do and see on this small island in the middle of the Indian ocean. We really enjoyed our short stay but we are looking forward to go sailing again on the open ocean.

project manaia

Krüss Mikroskope