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Takamaka Valley, Saint-Benoit

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On the eastern side of the island, heading into the mountains just before Saint-Benoit, the Takamaka valley is a wild, verdant, steep-sided valley, where huge, steep ramparts lined with vegetation protect the noisy, tumultuous flow of the Rivière des Marsouins. A hike in jungle mode, where you can expect to come across a gorilla, a boa or a mygale, with incredible views of the gigantic white waterfalls that cut through the walls from the crests, feeding the exotic-sounding torrent bed at the very bottom of the gorges. After a short climb up the fantastic valley, the trail heads straight for the last cliff face, some 250m of steep ascent equipped with almost 30 aluminium ladders for the trickiest passages. At the top, given the views and the atmosphere, we're almost a little disappointed by the view, even if large tree ferns stand out with class against the surrounding peaks. A highly original hike in an impressive natural setting.

Technical summary

Type ✦ Jungle hiking

Location ✦ Takamaka, Abondance

Region ✦ East

Country ✦ La Réunion

Length ✦ 11kms

Dénivelé ✦ 800m

Difficulty ✦ MD

Duration ✦ 4h30 to 5h

Interest ✦ ★★

Access to the place

On the N2 linking Saint-Denis to Saint-Benoit, exit onto the D53 towards Abondance and Takamaka. Pass Abondance and continue on the road, which heads straight for the gorge. It climbs into the forest to the final parking lot at 765m, the Takamaka lookout, which stands on the platform of the hydraulic dam. Here you'll find the best panoramic view of the Takamaka valley, with views of the immense waterfalls plunging down from the opposite ridges.

Itinerary description

Hiking to the start 1'

From the parking lot, the Takamaka trail starts just beyond the huge pulley on the ground.

Course 2h à 2h30

A well-marked trail in the midst of an omnipresent jungle, which often corresponds to a mini-verse at ground level, but protected by roots and vegetation, forming real plant tunnels in places. Signposts mark the main points of the hike. Almost everything is done in the shade of trees and plants, except on the slightly more open ridge.

Numerous small passages equipped with lifelines to cross gullies, small bridges to pass waterfalls and, of course, some 26 aluminum ladders in good condition litter the final ascent into the bush. The 800m of ascent is mainly from the bridge over the Patience arm (lowest point?) to the crest, and particularly on the final 250m with the ladders.

Part 1: Ilet aux Bananes (1h15)

The trail quickly twists and turns downhill to reach and pass the large waterfall on the Bras Patience, which comes in from the right and flows into the Rivière des Marsouins below (15′ from the parking lot). The trail then climbs steadily upwards, following the contours of the landscape in both hollows and full valleys, crossing numerous small gullies and waterfalls (water supply). Further on, it climbs harder, and there are a few passages where you have to use your hands, on rocks or holding on to tree roots. After about 1h15, we reach a small, vaguely open platform, l'Ilet aux Bananes (signpost).

Part 2: Ladders (30′)

From Ilet aux Bananes, turn at right angles towards the mountain. It's going to get a lot steeper and we soon find the 1st ladders, on the passages impossible to cross. We're right in the middle of the vegetation. Almost all the ladders are in very good condition and inclined, so easy to climb. However, the sequence of 26 (some say 27 or 28...) and the incline of the trail make these 30′ quite a test. At the top, we come out onto the ridge, still covered in forest but much flatter.

Section 3: Belvédère des Marsouins (30′)

Simply follow the trail that goes off to the left, under the woods, muddier, with little elevation gain. At the end, a signpost. Go left to join a wide track which then leads left again to the Belvedere, right next to an EDF power station. You can see the Takamaka valley from above, and the turbulent cascades of the Rivière des Marsouins below.


The trek is an out-and-back one, so take the trail in the opposite direction. We go a little faster overall, but not that much. The ladders in reverse are not faster, just less tiring. And the final climb to the parking lot from the bridge over the main branch is a bit exhausting. On the way, the tangs are out!

Map & topo

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