Welcome to the blog of the sailing yacht Sea Bunny.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Cirque de Salazié - Réunion

This cirque is accessed from the north east coast and is more lush. apparently holding some world records for rainfall.
Waterfalls tumble down mountains and in some place across roads.
Hell - Bourg is reputed to be one of the most beautiful villages in France (yes - Réunion is an integral part of France) and is situated in a natural amphitheatre.
Cascade du la Mariee
The Cascade du Voile de la Mariee drop in several stages from towering heights into a ravine at the roadside and makes a good photo backdrop.
View of Hell'-bourg from Be Mahof

The hamlet of Be Mahof clings to the cliff edge above Hell - Bourg and gave fantastic views of the Cirque de Salazie.
It is fascinating just to watch the local bus negotiate the hairpin bends around here - unless you're driving up when the bus is coming down!

Piton d Énchaing 1260m

Guess who?

le Trou de Fer - Reunion

After detailed explanation, as to timing and what would be the best route, from ardent hikers on Vulcan Spirit, the walk appeared doable.  Compulsory Boulangerie stop for victuals then across les Hautes  Plaines and into the magnificent tamarind Foret  de Bebourwe we drove.
Calla Lillies
Car parked, boots on and sticks at the ready we tramped 3.5km on path and boardwalk to the lookout. The whole valley was covered in cloud, stop, have first lunch, cloud dispersed to give a breathtaking view of the 300metre deep waterfall - wow! Helicopters flying up the valley (been there - done that!) give an idea of the sheer scale. A very good walk!

le Trou de Fer  with helicopter

le Trou de Fer without helicopter

le Trou de Fer with mist clearing

le Trou de Fer in enormous lush valley

la Fournaise (the volcano) - Reunion

After discussion with Iron Horse who declared that seeing an active volcano in the dark was a must we decided another "must do". Not forgetting coats, hats and head torch as it would be cold and dark after the sun goes down we were ready.
The road to the car park across the Martian landscape
The plan was to drive to the viewpoint at Pas de Bellecombe 2311m in daylight and walk round the Ramparts de Bellcombe for a closer view then back after dark a round trip of 12-14 km. No one got lost until back at the enormous car park!

Across this lunar landscape she marched

What an adventure - the sheer noise and tremble from the volcano was actually mesmerising.

A whole day could have been spent at the Volcano Museum but we had to content ourselves with a couple of hours the following day.

In front of extinct cones

That was a big one
La Fournaise is an active geological wonder that erupts regularly. The latest in May and August 2015 certainly put on a good show for us and several hundred others with head torches that night.
Night eruptions and lava flow

Where lava meets the road

Later in the visit we travelled the road round the SE of the island where various lava flows, particularly in 2007 reached the sea. Unlike in the Galapagos vegetation establishes itself after only a few years.

The road crosses the lava field

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Helicopter experience - Réunion

This is a "must do" activity recommended after a few days orientation of the island so you can look down and comment.
Thanks to St Expedit
After asking St Expedit, usually dressed like a roman soldier, for good weather we were off.

The three cirques are like a huge three leaved clover with villages hanging in there.

Trou de Fer
It is exciting flying through the Bras de Caverne with it's 800 metre precipices leading to le Trou de Fer (iron hole) waterfall.

Cirque de Cilaos
Cilaos looks so deep and small from above with it's 400 bend road.

la Fournaise August 2015 eruption
The updraft heat from the volcano made the helicopter wobble slightly so Norma put a reassuring hand on Susan's and the pilot put his hand on top! What can be said about flying over one of the most active volcanoes  in the world except 'do it again' and Pierre do three times.

The Trois Salazies stone guardians dividing Cirque de Mafate and Cirque de Cilaos

Norma, Pierre the pilot and us

Cascade de Trou Noir - Reunion

The Cascade de Trou Noir is in the valley of the Riviére des Grands Galets. The road up the valley becomes very steep and twisty towards the end. So much so that when the car had to be stopped on one of the hairpins to avoid a vehicle coming down it could not make it up the hill. There was a strong smell of hot clutch and the tyres were spinning. We had to reverse down the hill and take a run at it, blowing the horn.
The cascade is unusual as all the water emerges from fissures between the rock strata not from the top of the ridge.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Cirque de Mafate - Réunion

View into the Cirque de Mafate from before the lookout

Susan's ankle is now out of the brace so needing exercise the group decided to walk one of the trails overlooking the Cirque de Mafate. This is a circular walk commencing at a popular picnic spot above the village of Dos d'Ane and taking in viewpoints at Cap Noir and La Roche Verre Bouteille.
The path descends to the first  viewpoint at Cap Noir, above the Rivière des Galets, which drains the cirque, and provides the access to the communities living there. These can only be reached on foot, or by helicopter.

More rugged scenery in the Cirque de Mafate
From the Cap Noir viewpoint the path hugs the cliff with precipitous drops on the outside - Richard took one look and opted out while the others carried on up and down ladders and were rewarded with stunning scenery and some challenging walking via the second viewpoint at La Roche Verre Bouteille.

Riviere de Galets

On the path

Near the end of the walk

The Maido

The cloud comes in
Apart from by helicopter the other easy view into the Cirque de Mafate is from the Maido, at the top of a near vertical cliff falling into the Cirque from an altitude of 2170 m. As the clouds tend to roll in from the east during the morning the recommendation is to get there by 0700. On our first attempt we arrived just after 0800 to discover that the recommendation had some foundation as the clouds had just got up to the level of the viewpoint.

Blue sky behind us
We got a couple of glimpses of the view but not much.

Looking south from the viewpoint

On our second attempt we gave up before getting to the top.
Finally, by leaving the boat at 0600, we arrived at 0715 and were rewarded by some excellent, if hazy, views of the whole Cirque, with the third cirque, Salazie, shrouded in cloud to the east. The picnic breakfast tasted so so good.

and looking north

The viewpoint

Looking across Rivière des Galets towards La Roche Verre Bouteille 

Looking east across towards Salazie and cloud spilling over the pass

Cirque de Cilaos - Réunion

One word comes to mind to describe the scenery in Réunion - spectacular.
When we arrived Phil and Norma had already hired a car so Richard was added as driver giving us wheels.
As well as the coastal strips the island comprises 3 "cirques" surrounded by mountains and, in the south the active volcano.

The road to Cilaos
Our first trip was a reconnaissance to the Cirque de Cilaos, the most accessible of the three. Accessible is somewhat open to interpretation. Although there is a motorway down the coastal strip on the west side, the road up to the town of Cilaos is very much a mountain road - rising some 1200m through a reputed series of 400 bends.

Cilaos - the church
 The town of Cilaos is surrounded on three sides by the mountains, making an impressive amphitheatre.

On the road to Ilot des Cordes

The villages in the cirques are called Ilots. We took the road out the Ilot des Cordes, which starts with an alarming set of very steep hairpin bends before moderating very slightly and passing through yet more breathtaking scenery- mountains,vineyards and lentil fields.
Rainbow over the valley..
 As the clouds form later in the day they give rise to isolated showers, which in turn cause unusual rainbow effects, some viewed from above
..and in the valley
After the initial reconnaissance we returned the following week for a two-night stay so we could do some walking before the clouds descended.
Top of the Plate Forme waterfall

On the way up we went off on a side road some 2 km before the town of Cilaos to a small parking area in Mare Seche, from which we could walk downhill to the waterfall of Plate Forme.
It is possible to continue on this walk across the river to come out on the main road. It was not at all clear where the river is crossed, the bridge above the waterfall having collapsed, nor where the path on the other side led. All academic as we intended to retrace our steps anyway.
View from the path 
Crossing the river
The next walk was to another waterfall - Bras Rouge. The path for it starts in Cilaos itself and again heads down hill to the waterfall - a relatively easy walk. From the waterfall it becomes slightly more difficult, continuing largely uphill and crossing a number of dry or nearly dry watercourses before eventually reaching the road to Ilot des Cordes. This took us about 3 hours 15 minutes - about 1.5 times the estimated time which clearly does not allow for stopping to rest or to factor in the  wows! It is possible to continue on another path back to Cilaos but we opted to return along the road, and catch a bus. On reaching an intermediate bus stop Richard decided to return on foot so that the car could be waiting at the bus stop in town for the others. Good planning as when the pink bus arrived it was non stopping and full; so Richard drove up to collect the party before retiring to the hotel swimming pool and sampling some more of the island specialty - lentils!
A friendly bird

Cilaos church is clearly visible 
The river gorge

On our last day in Cilaos, feeling rather stiff from the last two days' exertions, we opted for short walks, mostly in the woods. La Roche Merveilleuse gives excellent views of the cirque and the town.
Cilaos from La Roche Merveilleuse

Intricate work
From the vastness of the scenery we marveled at the minute detail in the handiwork undertaken at the Maison de la  Broderie.

Informal Ocean Cruising Club lunch - Port Louis

Any excuse for a meal out and as there were a number of OCC boats and members in Port Louis a luncheon was arranged in the Grand Canton restaurant in China Town (thanks to Neil & Ley, Crystal Blues, OCC) for the recommendation).
A party of 12 enjoyed an excellent feast from the restaurant's set menu for 10.
As it was our 46th wedding anniversary we provided a sparkling wine aperitif..
Those attending:
Phil and Norma Minnie B (OCC)
Richard and Alison Vulcan Spirit (OCC)
Mary & Dave, OCC Port Officers, Whangerei, NZ - visiting
Mike and Nikki Zen Again (OCC)
Gunther and Ute YNot
Richard and Susan Sea Bunny (OCC)

Mike, Richard (Sea Bunny), Dave, Susan, Nikki, Mary, Alison, Ute, Gunther, Norma, Phil, Richard (Vulcan Spirit) Photo: Phil Heaon

Before the meal