The forests of Bebour and Belouve, east of the cirque of Salazie, are probably the best remaining example of the lush and thick natural vegetation which once covered much of Reunion's interior.
Although the forests are generally accessed via Plaine des Palmistes, they actually 'belong' to the commune of Saint Benoit. They can also be reached by a steep footpath from Hellbourg.
We spent a day and a night at the Belouve gîte for a friend's birthday. Although I'd been there several times before, this was the first time I'd been back since we spent 3 years in South Korea.
|road leading to the gîte|
The forest is at roughly 1300m altitude.
When we got there the weather was rather cloudy, but the next morning we had clear blue skies. This is fairly typical of the weather in the island's interior.
We had amazing views of the surrounding mountains:
|Piton des Neiges and Gros Morne|
|close-up showing the Piton des Neiges gîte|
|Cimendef to the left, Roche Ecrite to the right|
|Hellbourg, in the cirque of Salazie|
|cirque of Salazie|
|looking across the cirque of Salazie to the Col de Fourche|
The gîte can be reached by car during the week; at weekends a barrier is put up and you have to park your car and walk about 2 or 3 kilometres to reach the gîte.
|tree fern roots used as a plant pot outside the gîte|
|taro leaves are water repellent|
|old cable car which used to link Belouve and Salazie|
|sundial showing the gîte's latitude and longitude|
Because the climate at Belouve is very humid, plants, trees and flowers grow easily.
After breakfast we went for a walk to see the Reine des Tamarins - an enormous old Highland Tamarin tree (acacia heterophylla).
|"Queen of the Tamarins"|
The whole forest is very thick and lush.
|Female Reunion stonechat (saxicola tectes), known locally as a tec-tec|
This part of the forest has many tree ferns (cyathea):
|Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides)|
The forests are part of Reunion's National Park, and also part of the UNESCO World Heritage Natural Site.
You can book accommodation at the gîte on the Reunion Island Tourism website.
|Panoramic view showing Piton des Neiges on the left |
and Roche Ecrite in the middle
"The Gîte de Bélouve during the week: beauty and peacefulness!" Runweb.