Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Hiking from Maïdo to Ilet Alcide

This hike started at 2000m, a little below the main Maïdo viewpoint. Shortly after you start you come first of all to the paragliding take-off site for Maïdo, then to the start of the hiking path that heads down into the cirque of Mafate.

start of hiking path into Mafate from Maïdo - 'only' 750m downhill!

Mafate was not our destination today though, a place called Ilet Alcide was. From the path turn-off we were able to catch a few glimpses of Mafate far below through breaks in the clouds.

Ilet des Orangers (forefront), and Grande Place (behind)

We could also see the town of Le Port on the coast, some 2000m below.

the town of Le Port

mock strawberry (left) and true strawberry (right)

In recent years the Maïdo area has suffered from several forest fires at the end of the dry season, and sometimes the effects can still be seen on the vegetation.

previously burnt bush 


We gradually headed downhill, the lie of the land meaning that we had to follow the path round to the left as there was a 1500m drop to the Rivière des Galets riverbed below us if we carried straight on!


dew-covered spider's web

We stopped for a short break at a place known as "Les Terrasses" where we had a view across the Rivière des Galets to the village of Dos d'Ane (which literally means ('Donkey's back').

Dos D'Ane, seen from across the Rivière des Galets

We also had a different view of Le Port.

Le Port

A little further on we finally reached Ilet Alcide, where we had lunch (there are two picnic tables). The lichen-covered wooden sign reads "Welcome to Ilet Alcide, inhabited from 1900-1944 by Clain Vincent Alcide".

wooden sign, Ilet Alcide

Today there are no reminders left of Mr Clain, who came here from Mare à Martin in Salazie to cultivate and distill geranium. Before him, in the 18th century, the îlet was inhabited by Mafouta, an escaped slave who gave his name to the cirque of Mafate.

Hydrangea, Ilet Alcide

small shrine, Ilet Alcide

strawberry guava ('goyavier') flowers, Ilet Alcide

After leaving Ilet Alcide and continuing downhill we eventually came to a sign indicating Sans Souci further down (Sans Souci is a popular starting point for the Canalisation des Orangers hike). We, however, also headed down but inland too, towards the cryptomeria forest.

Ilet Alcide/Sans Souci sign

The smell of Ginger lilies became stronger and stronger the further downhill we headed. 

Hedychium gardnerianum / Ginger lily / Longose

wild orchid

The Maïdo (along with Plaine des Cafres) is a place where cattle roam more or less freely, and we finished our 11 km hike at 1300m altitude with them watching us!

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:

Satellite map of hike route

See also:
Ilet Alcide (video)

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