A major site on Réunion Island, the ascent to the Dolomieu crater on Piton de la Fournaise is well worth the detour. Lunar landscapes, gigantic ramparts, superimposed lava flows, astonishing geological formations, plunging views of the crater. The trek is a round trip, crossing the deserted northern flank of the Piton to skirt the summit and enter the crater from the southwest. No particular difficulty, but an early start is preferable to avoid the rising mists of mid-day, depending on the period. Extraordinary atmosphere despite the large number of hikers.
Type ✦ Volcano hiking
Location ✦ Saint-Pierre
Region ✦ Piton de la Fournaise
Country ✦ France, La Réunion
Length ✦ 12kms
Vertical drop ✦ 400m
Difficulty ✦ MD
Duration ✦ 4h to 4h30
Interest ✦ ★★★
Access to the place
From Saint-Pierre, climb up to the buffer and follow the RN3. Turn right at the Maison du Volcan to the well-marked Piton site. Cross the Plaine des Sables (dirt track) then reach the Pas de Bellecombe or the Gite du Piton if you arrive the day before (best for an early start).
Map & topo
Hiking to the start 30'
From the gite, take the path that leaves just after the gate on the left and follow it to the Bellecombe pass. Descend the rampart on the equipped path to reach the lava floor.
Course 3h30 à 4h
The route is marked with white markers all the way up. First there's a flat section leading to the Formica Leo crater (5′). We're on the volcanic base at 2215m, with a huge rampart running east-west.
The trail then climbs gently and gradually to reach Chapelle Rosemont (15′), crossing a lava flow from 1957 before ascending and circling the summit from the west. At the end, the trail descends several times, then finally rises to reach the crater rim at 2475m (2h30 from the start).
All that remains is to retrace your steps to the foot of the rampart.
Go up the rampart and down the path back to the gite.
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