La Réunion - also known as Reunion Island- is an exquisite gem in the vast Indian Ocean, revealing its extraordinary treasures to those who venture onto its enchanting trails. My adventure commences at Dos d'Âne, in the north of the Island, the gateway to an exhilarating hiking escapade leading to the captivating Cap Noir viewpoint and onward to the breathtaking Roche Vert Bouteille. Brace yourself for an unforgettable journey with stunning views, technical challenges, and each step unveiling a new chapter in the captivating tale of this splendid destination.
Cap Noir and La Roche Vert Bouteille: the most beautiful hike in La Réunion
A shroud of clouds blankets the sky, carrying the promise of rain just hours away. Here I am, at the tranquil threshold of Dos d'Âne, nestled at a cooler 1130 meters altitude. The air is heavy with the scent of impending petrichor, as mist gracefully descends. It's a rare moment, an invitation extended only to the most intrepid souls.
Dos d'Âne, in its unassuming charm, stands as the prelude to the adventure ahead. The road from La Possession, winding and ascending, feels like a leap into another dimension. As I set foot on this cloud-kissed terrain, there's an undeniable sense of exclusivity. To be among the privileged few witnessing this scene is akin to silently observing the intimate dance between clouds and land.
The flora, adorned in subdued hues, pays homage to the impending rain. Dos d'Âne, in its serenity, transforms into a canvas where the forthcoming hike begins to sketch its initial strokes. The air, laden with the untold stories of the island, envelops me. As an eager traveler, I stand poised to delve into La Réunion's whispered tales, ready to be woven into the fabric of this enchanting journey.
Hiking from Dos d'Âne to Cap Noir Viewpoint
Dos d'Âne, more than a mere starting point, emerges as a haven for those yearning to connect with the mysterious facets of La Réunion. The misty ambiance, the imminent rainfall, and the serene stillness of Dos d'Âne create the perfect backdrop for a hike as enigmatic as the island itself. And with that, the adventure sets in motion.
The path unfolds gradually, each step guided by well-marked trails leading to the enchanting Cap Noir viewpoint. Before me sprawls the vast Cirque de Mafate, a natural amphitheater beckoning exploration. The trail weaves through earthy paths and stone steps, occasionally demanding a steep ascent. At the Cap Noir viewpoint, a mesmerizing panorama unfolds, showcasing the summits that punctuate the grandeur of La Réunion. In the distance, the rhythmic hum of helicopter blades provides a captivating contrast to the untouched landscape below—a modern-day aerial ballet against nature's backdrop.
WHAT IS A CIRQUE?
A "cirque" refers to a natural amphitheater-like formation, created by the collapse of volcanic calderas. Reunion Island is known for three prominent cirques: Cirque de Mafate, Cirque de Salazie, and Cirque de Cilaos. These cirques feature steep, rugged mountain slopes, offering unique landscapes and microclimates. The term "cirque" is derived from the French word for circus, emphasizing the enclosed and circular nature of these geological formations.
Amidst the rugged beauty, the distant hum of helicopter blades breaks the silence. A surreal scene unfolds as helicopters gracefully traverse the expanse, ferrying supplies to the tiny towns nestled within the Cirque de Mafate. In this secluded realm, accessible only on foot or by air, the modern-day ballet in the sky adds a fascinating contrast to the ancient, untouched landscape below.
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With each ascent, the terrain transforms into a delightful blend of verdant vegetation and rocky paths. The Rivière des Galets reveals its depth, captivating my gaze as I press forward. The anticipation grows, knowing that in a matter of days, a three-day hike will lead me deep into the heart of the Cirque de Mafate—an extra layer of magic added to the unfolding narrative.
At the Cap Noir viewpoint, the misty veil over the Rivière des Galets lifts, unveiling the hidden beauty of the valley beneath. Each step, akin to a brushstroke, becomes a contribution to the evolving masterpiece of La Réunion—a place where nature shares its secrets with those willing to lend an ear.
From Cap Noir to Roche Vert Bouteille
As I make my way toward Roche Vert Bouteille, the clouds orchestrate a symphony of grays overhead. The trail, delicately carved into the landscape, becomes a conduit for discovery, accompanied by the rhythmic pitter-patter of raindrops—a soothing melody to the unfolding spectacle. Nature, in all its unreserved beauty, reveals hidden nooks and crannies, adorned with Olivines, yellow-green, and translucent crystals, embedded like nature's own jewels in the rocks. It's easy to see where the name 'Roche Vert Bouteille' comes from, as the Olivines give the rock a color reminiscent of green glass.
The rhythmic pitter-patter of raindrops accompanies me, a soothing melody to the unfolding spectacle. This leg of the journey proves more demanding than the first, with formidable cliffs, ladders, and steel rungs commanding attention due to the difference in altitude. The path unfolds with strategically placed steel ladders bridging the altitude gap, each rung symbolizing a tangible step toward Roche Vert Bouteille—an enigmatic destination nestled within La Réunion's captivating embrace.
Despite cautions about attempting the trail in the aftermath of heavy rains, the allure of adventure propels me forward. The path, a thrilling mix of rocky outcrops and dense vegetation, leads to the imposing bottle-shaped rock—Roche Vert Bouteille. Navigating the terrain becomes a dance with the rain-kissed earth, a jubilant celebration of La Réunion's remarkable resilience.
Roche Vert Bouteille back to Dos d'Âne
Retracing my journey from Roche Vert Bouteille, the rain, now a gentle drizzle, maintains its benevolent caress upon the landscape. Newly bathed, nature exudes a revitalized energy, with colors becoming more vivid, scents more pronounced, and the symphony of its elements reaching a full crescendo.
Every step transforms into a dance with the rain-kissed earth—a jubilant celebration of La Réunion's remarkable resilience. The babbling brooks, now serenading in a post-rain melody, become my companions on this homeward stretch. Dos d'Âne, once a quiet prelude, now stands witness to the transformative power of rain—an artistic force unveiling the island's beauty in a new light.
The trail, still moist from the recent downpour, releases an earthly perfume that mingles with the fragrance of blossoming flora. The mist, akin to a fleeting waltz partner, twirls around the landscape, leaving a delicate veil over Dos d'Âne's embrace. Each leaf, adorned with raindrops, narrates a story of the island's resilience—a tale of rebirth and renewal etched in the intricate patterns created by nature's brush.
Approaching Dos d'Âne, the panorama unfolds like a watercolor painting, its hues deepened by the rain's gentle touch. The clouds part to reveal the rugged beauty of La Réunion, and Dos d'Âne, once a quiet prelude, becomes a serene stage upon which nature showcases its unwavering strength and timeless beauty.
Cap Noir and La Roche Vert Bouteille - the details
BRING A PONCHO, WATER, SNACKS, A HAT, SUNGLASSES AND SUNBLOCK
2h 30 MIN
(INCL. BREAKS AND PHOTO STOPS)
WEAR Sturdy hiking boots with good traction for the diverse terrain, ankle support for stability.
780 METERS ELEVATION
4,5 KM ROUND TRIP
The Ideal Sanctuary: La Possession
For those seeking solace after the immersive journey, La Possession emerges as an idyllic sanctuary against the mist-shrouded peaks of La Réunion. Whether drawn to the intimate charm of a local guesthouse or the opulence of a luxury resort, La Possession beckons exploration of its accommodations, local culture, gastronomic delights, and genuine hospitality.
As the rain bids farewell and the mist gracefully dissipates, Dos d'Âne becomes a memory etched in raindrops—a testament to La Réunion's enchanting ability to captivate, inspire, and unveil its secrets to those willing to embrace its rain-kissed allure. In every raindrop that graced Dos d'Âne, there resides a story of La Réunion's enduring magic—a narrative waiting to be explored, one rain-kissed hike at a time.
Where to stay near Cap Noir, La Réunion?
We stayed 2 nights at Lodge Roche Tamarin, a 4-star haven in La Possession, Réunion. it's Nestled perfectly for the Cap Noir hike, with a 25min drive into the mountains to the parking lot.
the lodge offers a serene escape with modern amenities. Enjoy comfortable rooms, a pool, and exquisite dining. we stayed in a prestige bungalow and had a bubblebath on our private deck to enjoy the starry sky and nature sounds.
the on-site restaurant offers french style dishes and a tropical breakfast, of course with not to miss french pastries. looking for local food? We highly recommend cousin cuisine, a 10 min walk from the lodge.