Cirque de Mafate
Travel to Cirque de Mafate – Isolated Cirque of Nature and Wilderness
The Cirque de Mafate is one of the three calderas formed from the collapse of the Piton des Neiges volcano. The Cirque is entirely enclosed by mountains and tall cliffs (known as remparts) and there are no roads. Because of this it is a major attraction for hikers willing to experience some unspoiled nature and wilderness. All access, including supplies, is by foot or helicopter.
This remote and inaccessible place was settled in the 19th century by escaped slaves, then later by poor white labourers. The Cirque is entirely public property, managed by the Forestry Service, from which the inhabitants rent inexpensive concessions. The name “Mafate” comes from the Malagasy word “Mahafaty”, which means lethal, an allusion to the difficulty for accessing the Cirque.
The Cirque has one village, La Nouvelle, and several hamlets including Marla, Roche-Plate, Îlet-aux-Orangers and Grand Place. Simple gite-style accommodation is available in these hamlets, sheltering hikers as they make their way through the most dramatic mountain scenery in the Indian Ocean. For a fantastic view of Mafate without the need to trek or fly, drive up from the West Coast to the viewpoint ‘le Maido’. It’s a scenic drive and popular with locals, so try and get there early before the narrow road gets too busy.
There are several different walking options in Mafate. Maison de la Montagne de la Reunion provides a specialist and comprehensive information and gite/hut booking service covering hiking routes all over Reunion.
Access to the Cirque is only possible by either foot or helicopter. There are a number of trails leading into the Cirque.
- Enjoy breathtaking scenery amid a panorama of steep-sided cliffs and tiny hamlets
- Experience exhilarating hiking through a variety of landscapes
- Encounter hospitable and friendly locals in tiny hamlets