We started at the Parking above Cilaos early in the morning. Our goal was to be at the summit at sunrise. After 2 and half hours we reached the summit just in time. After a beautiful sunrise we walked down again and had the whole day before us. The trail is quite technical and in my opinion easier to run uphill than downhill.
We climbed Piton des Neiges in a rainy and foggy morning after overnighting in the Caverne Dufour mountain hut. No views, unfortunately, but it was definitely worth a climb. The whole island is perfect for hiking. Our "Tour de cirques": Cilaos - Piton des Neiges - Hell-Bourg - Grand Ilet - La Nouvelle - Cilaos was just amazing!
reached the top with my 2 years old son and many stuffs on the baby bagpack (20kg) and his mum.
Route from Cilaos to cabane Dufour in the front of eruption of Piton de la Fournaise (active volcano).
After a night at the Dufour Hut, me and my girlfriend Åsa, climbed up the good path in the company with a lot of people and came to the summit well in time to enjoy the beautiful sunrise over the lovely La Reunion island. A great day. After a little breakfast back in the hut we descended to Cialaos.
...views, from gite Caverne Dufour
I reached the summit of Piton des neiges at 10.30 pm, 24.11.07, under full moon, climbing direct from Cilaos. I spent the night in my tent right at the top (there are several spots nearby where it's possible to set up a tent). I strongly advice getting to the summit before sunrise, and sleeping at the top is for sure a good option to enjoy it. Climbing from Cilaos is quite long (5hrs)but direct and easy (don't try to avoid Dufour Hut when coming from Cialos, even if being on the other side of the mountain, the path climbs from the hut and it's not advised to shortcut (as I wrongly did in darkness!) over rocks to remain on the ridge.
there are other routes joining at Dufour Hut, so you can start (long and a bit more difficult) from Hell Bourg, or even from the east, less steep but very long.
Take enough water, there is one water point on the way from cilaos at 1950 m, but on average, you won't find on the way. mind the sun and take some protection.
I confirm you can get quite fast some clouds quite early. Don't forget to also reach the north west summit (some antenna on the top to have a nice view on Salazie.
I advice climbing also (easy) Gran Benare (2896m) , 3rd highest peak on teh island, from Piton Maido, nice view on Mafate and Cilaos area.
The second highest peak of the island, and the only one beside Piton des neiges to be over 3000m, is far more serious, and it's really a traget for skilled mountaineers (to reach Gros Morne, 3019m, you need some mountaineering gear , rope, and a lot of care due to poor quality of rock. It's seldom done, starting most often on teh ridge from Piton des neiges.
Ask in Cilaos for a piece of advice to Poste de Gendarmerie de Haute Montagne (¨PGHM)
(correct altitude of Piton des neiges is 3071m, but not a long time ago in geological terms, it was over 5000m!)