A few days ago myself and two friends, Damien and Alain went on one of the more spectacular local hikes (local in this case being a 45 minute drive away). After getting up at 5.30am and being collected by Alan at 6am we arrived at the village of Entre Deux for 6.45am. From Entre Deux we walked up to Dimitile a viewpoint on the top of the wall of the Cilaos caldera where we were able to look down the other side into the caldera.
|We started the hike waaay in the distance at the bottom where you can see buildings and were still an hour or two from the top!|
We ascended via le sentier Bayonne and came back by le sentier de la Grande Jument (sentier means path in French). It took us nine hours at a easy pace and was spectacular! Because of the steep terrain and our early start the first third of the hike was almost completely in the shade, it felt like walking in a humid Irish forest! Later on though we emerged into the sunlight and everything changed. Clear blue skies, fabulous views and the heat! The terrain was varied, from wooded hillsides to scrubby crests and shaded valleys, there was much greenery with occasional orchids and other flowers to add colour to the path.
|Although difficult to tell due to the vegetation there are 80 degree cliffs falling away on either side of the path (that is Damien ahead of me)|
Being able to look into the caldera from the caldera wall was impressive, it also reminds you how small the island is. The town of Cilaos looked so close, and it is close as the bird flies, but the terrain makes it so difficult to get to (the road to Cilaos is know as the road of the 400 turns!).
|Looking into the Cilaos caldera from the top of the caldera wall|
As often happens here later on in the day during our descent clouds started to form and mists rose up the hillside but we came though them quickly enough and ended up in glorious sunshine for the rest of the hike.
It's three days later and my legs are still aching a bit but it was well worth it!
|A view on the way up....|
|...the same view on the way down a couple of hours later!|