Reunion Island's Piton de la Fournaise (2621m) is one of the most constantly active volcanoes in the world. The volcano is extremely closely monitored by seismic experts, as it is often in constant eruption for weeks, or even months at a time. Thanks to this close monitoring and the location of the volcano on the island, it poses almost no threat to life on Reunion. The shield volcano emits plumes of smoke and molten lava which runs down the largely unpopulated eastern side of the island in the Indian Ocean, rendering it harmless to the island's inhabitants.
Climbing to the top of Piton de la Fournaise is a must-do challenge for visitors with a passion for adventure and excitement - especially during an eruption, when an evening climb will lead you up to one of the most breathtaking sights of your life.
How to hike up the Piton de la Fournaise Volcano
The day-trip to the start of the hike takes you across impressive lunar landscapes, winding down hairpin bends that are sure to spike your heart rate in preparation for your adventure. The hike itself takes about 5 hours, and starts from Pas de Bellecombe, where you can park your car before setting off for the top.
The hike begins with a 15-minute descent down more than 500 steps into the Enclos (the outer crater). Once you have reached this point, you are officially standing on solid lava! Take a moment to look around and reflect on films you may have seen that are set on Mars, imagining yourself on another planet. It's hard to imagine how unique this landscape is until you see it with your own eyes!From here, you will head to Formica Léo. Hike for another 30 minutes to reach the start of the path up the side of the Dolomieu Crater - an elevation of 2500 metres! Take it easy, enjoy the view and feel nature's power all around you.
The hike is suitable for those with a moderate level of fitness, but can be demanding due to the environmental factors. Remember to carry enough water and warm layers, wear sunscreen and shoes suitable for rocky and uneven surfaces.
Local tour guides offer transport and guided hikes up to the peak of the volcano, which is recommended for those attempting the hike for the first time, or with limited experience. The hike is extremely popular with both locals and visitors, so be sure to arrive early and leave yourself enough time to stop for pictures along the way.