Grand Étang (which means 'Big Pond') is Reunion's only high altitude volcanic lake and its largest inland body of water, with an area covering 50 hectares (123 acres).
|Grand Etang, looking east|
Located in the district of Saint-Benoît, it lies at an altitude of 525 metres at the bottom of an almost vertical ridge separating it from the Rivière des Marsouins valley.
You can walk or ride a horse around the lake, or just pic-nic there. The walk is about 4 km long, more if you take a detour to visit the waterfalls to the west. It's pretty easy but can be muddy depending on the time of year.
|waterfalls, Grand Etang|
|looking west from the start of the walk|
|on the north shore looking west|
|path from carpark to lake|
Grand Etang is part of a larger site that has been identified by BirdLife International as an Important Bird Area (IBA) because it supports a colony of Audubon's shearwaters (with 300 breeding pairs), as well as populations of Réunion harriers, Mascarene swiftlets, Mascarene paradise flycatchers, Réunion bulbuls, Mascarene white-eyes, Réunion olive white-eyes and Réunion stonechats.
|Reunion stonechat at Grand Etang (known locally as a tec-tec)|
One plant I've only ever seen growing at Grand Etang and nowhere else is wild Job's-tears. The plant bears hard, pearly-white oval beads that can be used for making necklaces, rosaries and other objects.
|close-up of Job's tears|
Fed essentially by rainfall and runoff, the water level is very variable.
|depth measurement instrument|
Some links (in French)
- Horse-riding: Ferme Equestre du Grand Etang
- Forestry Commission website: Le Tour de Grand étang
- Guide-reunion.fr: Grand Etang
- Rando pitons.re: Le tour de Grand Etang et les cascades du Bras d'Annette