The superb rugged Cirques of Salazie, Cilaos and Mafate are a dream-come-true for nature lovers and outdoorsy types. The number-one activity is hiking, followed a close second by canyoning.

The Cirques & the Volcano from Above

The helicopter dilemma: you're loath to add to noise and air pollution. But your heart is set on a bird's-eye view of the magnificent Cirques and the volcano. While the trips aren't cheap (between €95 and €320, depending on the duration of the tour), most travellers rate them as a highlight of their visit to Réunion. Contact Helilagon or Corail Hélicoptères.

If you really want to feel the wind in your hair, several outfits offer tandem microlight flights with a qualified instructor. They run about 10 different tours around the island, starting at €45 for a gentle tour above the lagoon. Needless to say, all flights are dependent on the prevailing weather conditions. For more information, contact the following:

Felix ULM

Ô Passagers du Vent

Papangue ULM

Tour des Cirques

The Tour des Cirques (Round the Cirques) is a classic Réunion hike that is sure to leave you with indelible memories. Combining the best of the three Cirques, it offers three distinct atmospheres and varied landscapes. As a bonus, you'll cross a few towns that are well equipped with cosy accommodation facilities.

The walk is best started in Cilaos, which has excellent facilities for walkers and the added advantage of a health spa where you can unwind after your hike. The walk covers 51.5km and is usually completed in five days, taking in the Piton des Neiges, Hell-Bourg, Grand Îlet, La Nouvelle (via Col des Bœufs) and Col du Taïbit.

The Hike at a Glance

Duration 5 days

Distance 51.5km

Difficulty demanding

Start/finish Cilaos