Tourist sites

Cirque of Mafate

montagnes de la reunion

Cirque of Mafate

First of all, a cirque is a natural enclosure with steep walls, circular or semi-circular in shape, formed by a depression of glacial origin. Cirque of Mafate offers a dream setting and a paradise for hiking in Reunion. Listed as a Unesco World Heritage site and accessible only on foot, it is the wildest cirque on the island.

The inhabitants live in small hamlets called “îlets” established on plateaus in the heart of a chaotic and grandiose setting, surrounded by high peaks.

With more than 100 km of trails, gites to stay in the heart of nature, one comes to Mafate to live an authentic experience, cut off from the world, where only the noise of helicopters breaks the tranquillity of the place.

The population of Mafate is estimated at around 800 people, two thirds of whom live in La Nouvelle.
The other islets have about ten wooden huts, and are called Marla, Roche-Plate, Grand Place, Îlet-à-Malheur, Îlet-à-Bourse, Aurère, etc.

Whether you discover Mafate from a viewpoint, by walking along its paths, or during a helicopter flight, it is always wonderful.

Le cirque de mafate et son paysage
Aerial view of Mafate

Access to Cirque de Mafate

Access to the cirque of Mafate is numerous but only on foot:

  • From Salazie

To reach La Nouvelle, the best-known and “easiest” hike starts at the Petit-Col (guarded paying parking). From there, you reach the Col des Bœufs and then descend to La Nouvelle in about 2 hours.

It is also possible from the Petit-Col car park to reach the Col de la Fourche, which also leads to La Nouvelle (allow an additional 1.5 hours).

Another possible hike (more difficult): Join Aurère by the Scout trail (departure about 3km before the Petit-Col car park). And return via the Augustave canalization.

  • From Le Maïdo

To get to Roche Plate: start before the end of the Maïdo forest road. The descent is steep and quite difficult (about 2h30).

  • From Dos-d’Âne

To reach Deux Bras, the hike follows the river “Rivière-des-Galets” (count 1h30). You can then reach different islets of Mafate from Deux-Bras.

  • From Cilaos

To reach Marla, the hike goes over the Taïbit pass (about 3 hours walk). From Marla, you can then continue to La Nouvelle in an additional 1h30.

  • From Sans-Soucis (Saint-Paul)

To reach Roche-Plate, the path follows “Les Orangers” canalization (about 6 hours walk).

Advice from Tropical Home

Before embarking on a hike in Mafate, you should be aware that the times indicated are to be considered with caution. They depend on your physical condition, the weather conditions, the load to be carried… The journey times can be longer, and it is advisable to take precautions.

Bring warm clothes (even in the southern summer), a windbreaker, waterproof protection for your backpack, plenty of water, cereal bars, a torch.

If you sleep in Mafate, you should know that the majority of the lodges offer basic comfort. However, some lodges have individual rooms with their own bathroom and toilet. Remember to take soap as it is not provided.

Check the condition of the paths beforehand. Landslides may make them inaccessible. Also check the weather conditions, which can make some routes dangerous.

Tropical Home is the reference holiday rental agency in Reunion Island.

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