We've been busily exploring La Reunion over the last few days. Where previously we had been exploring on Car Jaune busses we moved on to local buses and then to a hire car.
On Thursday morning we took the Kar Ouest No 8A bus from Le Port to the village of Dos D'Ane. This small bus climbs about 1000m, with many hairpin turns along the way. Due to a misunderstanding the bus driver dropped us off early, so we had to walk the last km to the village and from there up to the start of the Cap Noir track. It was a nice walk along the road but once on the walking track the views became truly spectacular.
The walk to Cap Noir and then on to Roche Boteille Verre was hard work - we're clearly out of shape after weeks aboard. It was also exhilarating with jaw-dropping views. In places there are ladders and in others there are wire ropes to hold on to as you walk along narrow cliff-top paths.
View of Cirque de Mafate from Cap Noir
From Roche Boteille Verre (Glass Bottle Rock) we took the shorter path direct down to Dos D'Ane where we had a nice lunch. We then caught a bus back to Le Port from where we took the Car Jaune bus to St Paul.
In St Paul we caught the Kar Ouest No 2 bus to Maido. This is a minibus and it climbs 2000m. The last part of the ride is in a National Park with many picnic spots along the road. The ride was made interesting by the cloud which had built up. We emerged from the top of the cloud at Piton Maido.
The cloud actually enveloped the entire mountain about an hour after we arrived. Visibility reduced to 50m or so. Before that we had a great walk around the top of the mountain. Afterwards we walked down the mountain for several kilometres. It's interesting how one's attention shifts as one's horizon shrinks. Instead of admiring the jaw-dropping views we admired the shrubs, trees and birds. Also the occasional cattle and horses which strolled by!
On Friday we had a rest day. We did some boat work but mainly rested since we were both suffering with colds.
On Saturday we had the use of a hire car. We drove down the west coast to St Pierre, inland to Bourg Murat and then along the forestry road to Pas de Bellecombe. The latter road is spectacular, with several great viewpoints along the way. We were lucky with the weather, with a practially clear sky all morning.
View to W from Nez de Boeuf
View into canyon from Nez de Boeuf
The eastern half of the forestry road is across a volcanic landscape. The tarmac road becomes a dusty dirt track and the scenery actually reminded us of parts of the Pilbara. From the end of the road we walked several km to a viewpoint overlooking the island's active volcano - Piton de la Fournaise. We could see lava oozing from several places on the volcano's flanks. Another track to the rim of the volcano's crater was closed since the volcano is quite active at present.
Enclosure of Foucque (an old collapsed caldera which surrounds today's volcano)
Le Piton de la Fournaise - the volcano!
As we drove back to Bourg Murat the cloud was rapidly building up from lower altitudes. As we went past Nez de Boeuf the canyon shown above was overflowing with cloud - very spectacular. In Bourg Murat we had lunch and then spent an hour in the excellent Maison de Volcano which explains volcanos in general and the birth and growth of La Reunion through volcanic action in detail. The same (static) volcanic hotspot created the Maldives, Rodrigues, Mauritius and La Reunion over the ages.
La Cite du Volcan (Bourg Murat)
From Bourg Murat we drove back to St Pierre and then eastwards along the coast road. The coast road had been closed recently due to a landslide. Happily it opened a few days ago. The lava tubes which flowed from Piton de Fournaise to the sea in recent eruptions are spectacular. The rapidity with which plant life returns is amazing.
Lava tube on SE coast
Yesterday we had another rest day, doing a few boat jobs. The latter mainly involved s/s polishing and a stocktake of food supplies followed by a trip to the Leader Price supermarket in Le Port. Today we topped up our water tanks and serviced the wind vane.
We have a hire car for Tuesday and Wednesday. We plan to explore the Cirque de Salazie.