Maïdo (2203m), Mafate circus belvedereMaïdo (2203m), Mafate circus belvedere

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    A very singular trek Fritz. Not so famous.
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      Very good description!
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      Yes! And you added a plan!
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      Yes, many!
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      Yep, but you describe many different spots in your article
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One of the must see of Réunion island: an exceptional point of view, almost totally accessible by car, with amazing landscapes all the way long. A trip you won't forget, with a plunging sight on Mafate, 1500m down.

My experience, Explo description: 

The circus of Mafate is one of the 3 enormous collapses of Réunion’s oldest volcano. This is the wildest and the only one which remains inaccessible in vehicles. You can reach it only by feet or in helicopter.

The edge of the circus is a practically vertical wall, more than 1000m high. It is called "rampart". The peak of Maïdo (2203m) is situated on the west edge of this "rampart".

Maïdo, in Malagasy, means "burned earth".

Nevertheless, even from a botanical point of view, this ballad is enriching, because to reach the Maïdo platform, it is necessary to start your trip from the sea level, and, as you rise, you will cross several floors of vegetation : culture zones (sugar cane and coffee) until 1000m, average height forests (until 1900m) with notably tamarin trees. Then, the forest clears up, as meadows appear.

From 2000m high, there are only some short plants remaining such as shrubs, gorses and grass.

One of the advantages of Maïdo is to be easily accessible by car, on an excellent road : it is not so frequent to climb 2000m without getting tired ! You will arrive on a car park at 2180m of height and you you will only have to walk 5 more minutes to join the Belvedere.

Along the way, you will cross hamlets where we still cultivate plants as the geranium and the vetiver, used in perfume shop. From 1500m of height, you will pass along numerous kiosks equipped for barbecue, where Réunion families come to picnic and even to stay for the weekend in an friendly atmosphere.

On the way up, you will first overlook crop fields and the coastal plain, then you will cross the forest, and when you will go out of it, you will discover the grand landscape of the west side of the island. Last but not least, from the Belvedere, the amazing view over the Mafate circus, with its impressive height and the verticality of its cliffs will bring you out of breath !

From there, if you look up, you will perceive the island summits : the Piton des neige ("Peak of snows" - 3070m), the Gros Morne (2991m, where convergence the cliffs of Mafate, Salazie and Cilaos cliffs. On the right, you will see the Grand Benare summit (2896m) accessible by feet from Maïdo (6 hours to go / return).

On the other side of the Mafate circus, you can make nice trip to the Roche Ecrite and Roche Verre Bouteille belvederes.

  • > For the first one, start your trip from the "Le Brulé" hamlet, overlooking Saint-Denis.
  • > For the second one, start your trip from from the hamlet of "Dos d’âne", overlooking Le Port.

Maïdo is a nice starting point for beautiful hikes :

  • > Grand Benare (2896m), 6 to 7h to go and return.
  • > Hike to Mafate, by the path of "La Brèche", you will reach the hamlet of Roche Plate, 1100m lower : 2.5h to go down, but 4h to get back up ! This trip is not advised for persons who suffer from vertigo !

For strong feelings amateurs, Maïdo is a perfect site to practice :

  • > Paragliding and hang-gliding
  • > Mountain biking : a good tip : it is possible get up to Maïdo with the mountain bike renting company van, and to ride down with your mountain bike : a great pleasure !

Mountain bike renting companies :

  • > Télénavette, located at Saint Gilles : 02 62 45 18 67.
  • > Rando Reunion Passion : 02 62 24 26 19 ou 06 92 88 54 58 .

My personal recommendations: 

Rather than driving back to Saint-Paul by the same road, a nice tip is to take the "Route Forestière 9" (forest road n°9) : this road is also called "route des Tamarins" (Tamarin trees road) which leads to Tevelave, overlooking Entang Salé (Salty Lake). This is a very pleasant road (40km long, which always stays in the forest, between 1200m and 1400m of height, offering very attractive, fresh and peaceful atmospheres.

On the way, numerous very well fitted out and maintained picnic places are at your disposal. If you are surprised by the rain, halfway, a road allows to escape and drives down to Saint-Leu.

How getting there: 

By car : you will need to leave (early !!) from Saint Paul and cross "Guillaume" and "Petite France" village, using the road RF8. Approximately 25 km to go.

A tip to eat: 

Take your own picnic ! You will find numerous places waiting for you in magnificent places, fitted out with barbecue. You will only have the embarrassment of the choice, and, if you prefer, you will always find an isolated place.

Useful information: 
Open hours: 

It is imperative to leave very early. As on many islands, clouds can arrive very fast, usually around 10am in the morning, depriving you of the sight. Thus do not hesitate to leave before the day rise.

Entry fees: 

Free !
Afficher Le Maïdo 2205 m sur une carte plus grande

Access security: 

Attention ! The edge of the "rampart" overlooking the Mafate circus is dangerous : it is a volcanic ground, with a very crispy rock which can collapse. Do not leave fitted out zones. Do not approach the edge of the cliff if there are no barriers.

Even if at the sea level, temperatures are very warm, at a 2000m height, you might freeze ! Take warm clothes with you !