OverviewThe "piton des neiges" is the highest mountain in the small french island called "La Rï¿½union", and also the highest mountain in the Indian Ocean.
The island of "La Rï¿½union" is located 800 km to the east of Madagascar, close to another very touristic island called "Mauritius", which is an independant country. La Rï¿½union has almost the shape of a circle, with a diameter close to 100 km. The island comes from the activity of a volcano, whose remains created the 3 cirques of Cilaos, Mafate and Salazie, with the "Piton des Neiges" approximately located in the central cross of these 3 cirques.
Now the volcano moved to the east, which gave the "Piton de la Fournaise" (2630 meters), currently one of the most active volcanos in the world.
The whole island offers a wide range of landscapes, lagoons or black rocks on the coast, active volcano or impressive cirques inside. It is said to look like some hawaï¿½an islands.
Thanks to the very rainy weather (10 meters of rain each year in some areas), the erosion gave amazing landscapes, with very high cliffs and canyons, covered with an ever-green forest, even on the almost vertical slopes...
Getting ThereThe island of La Rï¿½union can be reached by air through direct flights from France (Paris mainly), South Africa or Kenya. From the international airport of Saint-Denis, take the road N1 to Saint-Louis along the ocean (from 1 to 3 hours depending on the traffic...), then the very impressive road (400 curves in 40 km) which leads to the small city of Cilaos, at 1200 meters.
Red TapeNo permit, fee or special rule.
When To ClimbThe montain can be climbed year-round, but it's better to avoid the rainy season, from december to april, with heavy rains, and sometimes mud flows and very high winds in the vicinity of hurricanes which can hit the island at this period.
Due to the tropical climate and the lack of altitude, snow almost never falls on the Piton des Neiges. The name of the mountain, which means "Peak of snow" in french, is deserved 1 or 2 days every 2 or 3 years, during the "cold" season from july to september. Whatever, be ready for low temperatures upper than 2000 meters at every time, it can be freezing before sunrise...
Last but not least, cumulitforme clouds develop very quickly at any time in this island, the weather is generally completely cloudy from 10 AM to the sunset. If you want to enjoy the beautiful landscapes, you'll have to be at the summit before 9 AM and so to wake up very early in the morning...
CampingCamping is allowed everywhere.
There is a hut ("Caverne Dufour") on the mountain at 2500 meters, where it's possible to have water and food at every time of the year. Don't forget to book the hut early enough, given that it's overcrowded from april to january.
Whatever, it's possible to climb the mountain in a single day, if you accept to go from 1300 meters to 3100 meters and back.