One of Reunion’s most famous attractions is undoubtedly its active volcano, the Piton de la Fournaise – known as Furnace Peak. With leisurely regularity the peak erupts annually (or thereabouts), and each time the land around the volcano becomes scorched and ravaged by the resulting lava flows. Because of this, the area appears lunar-like and is completely devoid of vegetation, blanketed in dark ash.
The best way to view the volcano is by taking the 13-kilometre hike to the top of the volcano rim - adequate precautions must be taken to ensure your safety, and a guide is always recommended. Shorter walks lead to a smaller cone, the Formica Lion, which take less than two hours, but for those who are able, the Volcano and Plaine des Cafres are best experienced from the rim of the Piton de la Fournaise.
Hiking the volcano can be done in a day but we’d recommend spending the night before at Bourg Murat on Plaine des Cafres, staying within the Alpine-style landscape where wildflowers bloom and brambles tangle the pathways. Eventually the green peters out into barren ash, and you’ll be able to view the ruins of other ancient craters while driving up to the rim of the caldera, with views that look out from a 300-metre-high cliff. The walk begins here, as you climb down the cliff face staircase and make your way across stark lava fields to the rim of the crater. We’d recommend starting in the morning to ensure you make the most of the daylight; the walk may take up to five hours and in the afternoon the skies often cloud over and obscure the view. Walking boots are essential to tackle the solid, cooled lava.
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