Le Maïdo

Lonely Planet review

Far above St-Gilles-les-Bains on the rim of the Cirque de Mafate, Le Maïdo is one of the most impressive viewpoints in Réunion. The lookout is perched atop the mountain peak at 2205m (7232ft) and offers stunning views down into the cirque and back to the coast. Arrive early in the day if you want to see anything other than cloud.

The name Le Maïdo comes from a Malagasy word meaning 'burnt land', and is most likely a reference to the burnt appearance of the scrub forest at this altitude. The peak is the starting point for the tough walk along the cirque rim to the summit of Le Grand Bénare (2896m/9501ft), another impressive lookout (allow at least six hours for the return trip). Hikers can also descend from Le Maïdo into the Cirque de Mafate via the Sentier de Roche Plate, which meets the GR R2 variant that connects the villages of Roche Plate and Îlet des Orangers (allow three hours to reach Roche Plate). Ambitious walkers can head in the direction of Îlet des Orangers and down to the hamlet of Sans Souci near Le Port for a very long day's walk (at least eight hours).