Saturday, 28 April 2012

Hiking the Canalisation des Orangers

This week I did a one-day hike along the Canalisation des Orangers to La Porte via Les Lataniers. 

The Canalisation des Orangers is one of several entry points into the cirque of Mafate; it's the easiest way (read 'flattest'), but also one of the longest. 

first part of Canalisation des Orangers path (from Sans Souci)

Starting at about 500m at Sans Souci (part of the commune of Saint-Paul) we initially hiked along a rather  muddy dirt path, before rapidly arriving at the water pipe path itself and the entrance to the cirque (caldera) of Mafate.

sign marking the start of the cirque of Mafate

For safety reasons most of the time the water pipe is not visible, although occasionally it can be seen. Every year the pipe transports about 1.6 million cubic metres of water from the catchments of Ravine des Orangers and Ravine Grand-mère.

canalisation (water-pipe) visible on the path

Hiking the Canalisation des Orangers means walking along a narrow path (about 2 metres wide) at an average altitude of 700 metres. Although I'm sometimes subject to vertigo, I've always found the path is wide enough for me.

On the other side of the ravine we could see the village of Dos d'Ane.

Dos d'Ane

Far below we could see the Riviere des Galets winding its course.

Riviere des Galets

Having started early (6am) the sun was rising while we were walking, and we had great views as headed into the cirque.

heading into Mafate

We occasionally saw some papangues (circus maillardi; Réunion harrier) flying, and as with most hikes on Réunion, lots of spiders (called bibes locally) sitting in their webs.

Nephila inaurata (Red-legged golden orb-web spider)

In this northern part of Mafate choka are very common.

Choka, part of the Agavoideae plant family

I'd hiked the Canalisation des Orangers several times in the past, but always when leaving Mafate after a hike of several days. 

can you see the path? it's the line on the cliff face (right)

This was the first time I'd walked it for a one-day hike and heading into Mafate.

We often found ourselves higher than helicopters, which other than hiking, are the only other way of accessing Mafate.

looking down on a helicopter

another view of Rivière des Galets

looking back (can you see the people on the path?)

a tunnel along the path (the only one)
occasionally the rock face is bare, but mostly it's covered in vegetation

After several hours hiking and after the tunnel we started to see the îlets (hamlet settlements) of Mafate.

Cayenne(left) and Ilet aux Lataniers (middle)

Finally 17 kilometres and 4 1/2 hours after we started hiking we reached the îlet of Les Lataniers. Seven families live here, and the children go to school at the 'nearby' Ilet aux Orangers, a 1 1/4 hour hike away. It lies below the Crête (ridge) des Orangers (1360m), and there are three gîtes, and a shop/bar.

After a brief pause to buy a cold drink at the bar we carried on down to the riverbed, where we forded the river for the first time and then stopped for lunch, having hiked for nearly 6 hours already.

we turned left at this intersection

After lunch remained about 90 minutes of repeated river crossings (I lost count how many), as we had to criss-cross back and forth across the river to reach La Porte.

photo taken during one of the river crossings

No point in taking your hiking shoes off, you'd waste too much time!  Water levels can vary greatly according to the amount of rainfall there's been recently, but for us it ranged from low-calf to mid-thigh level, depending on where we were fording.

path marker near the river bed

looking towards Dos d'Ane

After a total of about 8 hours hiking (including breaks) we reached La Porte, from where a 4-wheel drive vehicle (ordered in advance) can pick you up, and for €7 take you to the small town of Riviere des Galets.

While waiting for our transport we watched a helicopter manoeuvring, picking up heavy supplies and flying them to some of the îlets in the cirque.

back to civilisation.

Useful link:
Wikiloc - satellite map of the hike

If you liked this, you might like:

No comments:

Post a Comment