Monday, 18 June 2012

Hike from Le Belier to Hellbourg

Gros Morne at sunrise

Early one morning recently we started this hike at Le Belier, a hamlet at an altitude of 1255m next to the small town of Grand Ilet in the cirque of Salazie.

sign board at the start of the hike.

At 7am at this time of year the sun has not long risen, and we had some beautiful views of the surrounding mountains at sunrise.  

looking towards the Col de Fourche, Gros Morne to the left

The walk itself is not very difficult by Reunion standards; the total distance is 10-11 km but it took us 5 hours to complete as we often stopped to pick goyavier (strawberry guava; see pictures below)!

As we always walked on the GR R1 (Reunion's main hiking path) or its variant, the track was well-maintained.

Initially the path passes to the south of Piton du Grand Sable and Piton Lelesse (1332m).

As usual there were a couple of rivers and streams to be crossed, but nothing very difficult as there has not been any heavy rain recently.

Part of the hike passed through a forest,

but most of the time you're surrounded by bushes.


As it was early morning, there was still dew on the goyaviers.

dew-covered goyavier



looking towards the east and the cirque entrance 

Bamboo can be found in many places on the island, but they grow especially well in Salazie. It's said they can grow up to one metre per day.


hunt the signpost!

This river crossing was a little trickier than most,

walking the plank

but there was a lovely little waterfall to be seen once you'd crossed.


 We passed this small religious shrine.


During the second part of the hike it's easy to see the distinctive Piton Enchaing (1356m) to the left.

flat-topped Piton Enchaing

The end of the hike is along a paved road, and you arrive at Ilet à Vidot, a hamlet near Hellbourg

road nearing Ilet à Vidot.

Walking along the road we passed some gardens, where we saw chili peppers and chou-chou (chayote) growing.

chili peppers
chou-chou growing on a trellis

We finished the hike at an altitude of 930m, 300 metres lower than we started, although with the up-and-down type of the path we actually had an elevation gain of 530m and an elevation loss of 831m. Our lowest altitude was 784 m.

satellite map of the hike

From Ilet à Vidot you can take a bus, or pick up your car if you've left one there.

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