Hell-Bourg is a great base for hiking and canyoning fiends.
Not surprisingly, the Hell-Bourg area is an adventure playground for hiking enthusiasts, with a good selection of day hikes. Hikers doing the Tour des Cirques route will have to pass through Hell-Bourg as they cross the Cirque de Salazie.
- Hell-Bourg–Gîte de Bélouve About four hours return, with 570m of altitude gain. From Gîte de Bélouve, you can continue to the Trou de Fer viewpoint (seven hours return from Hell-Bourg).
- Piton d'Anchaing This soaring 1356m peak is a popular but challenging four-hour hike (return) from Îlet-à-Vidot, with 670m of altitude gain. Leave your car at the small parking area in Bras Marron (in Îlet-à-Vidot, follow the sign 'Piton d'Anchaing'). The trail starts by plunging down to a footbridge over Rivière du Mât, then stays fairly level for an hour or so, until it reaches the base of the Piton d'Anchaing. Now the climb really begins. At least one hour of switchback ascent along a narrow path brings you to the forested summit. You can do a 20-minute loop on the (flat) summit to make the most of the few viewpoints along the way (the best one is on the eastern side, with super views of the Cirque and the valley). Do not attempt this hike if it's wet.
- Source Manouilh An exhilarating five- to six-hour loop, with a net altitude gain of about 600m.
- Hell-Bourg–Gîte du Piton des Neiges A pleasant alternative to Cilaos if you're planning to hike up to Piton des Neiges. Expect a tough seven-hour climb (one way) via Cap Anglais, with a net altitude gain of 1470m.
- Les Trois Cascades A short – about 90 minutes return – and relatively easy walk suitable for families, despite the initial steep section. It leads to a series of small waterfalls where you can take a dip in.
The canyoning options available in the Cirque will make your spine tingle. Get wet at Trou Blanc, which is said to be the most 'aquatic' canyon in Réunion, with lots of toboggans (plunging down water-polished chutes) and leaps. Some sections are appropriately named 'The Washing Machine', 'The Bath' and 'The Aquaplaning'. Note that this canyon is not accessible during the rainiest months (from December to March).