Introducing Les Hautes Plaines & the Volcano
Réunion’s only cross-island road passes through the Plaine-des-Cafres and the Plaine-des-Palmistes, collectively known as Les Hautes Plaines (the High Plains). At an altitude of about 1000m, the air is refreshingly crisp and often swathed in misty fog – a blessing if you’re coming from the scorching coastal cities.
These relatively large open areas actually form the saddle that separates the massif (comprising the three Cirques) from the volcano, Piton de la Fournaise. And what a volcano! It ranks as one of the most active volcanoes on earth, playing in the same league as Hawaii. At the time of writing, it was erupting in spectacular fashion. It’s also one of the most accessible ones – you can trek up and around the caldera (when it’s not erupting, that is).
Because there’s a road from the Hautes Plaines that approaches within a few kilometres of the summit of the volcano, nearly all visitors approach it from this side.