The UNESCO world heritage pitons, cirques and remparts of Reunion Island

  • © Dronecopter / IRT

    © Dronecopter / IRT

  • © Stéphane Michel / IRT

    © Stéphane Michel / IRT

  • © Lionel Ghighi / IRT

    © Lionel Ghighi / IRT

  • © Emmanuel Virin / IRT

    © Emmanuel Virin / IRT

  • © Lionel Ghighi / IRT

    © Lionel Ghighi / IRT

  • © Emmanuel Virin / IRT

    © Emmanuel Virin / IRT

  • © Richard Bouhet / IRT

    © Richard Bouhet / IRT

The UNESCO world heritage pitons, cirques and remparts of Reunion Island Saint Denis re

Much-anticipated and justified recognition for this European island in the Indian Ocean.

Since the 1st of August 2010, the "Pitons, cirques and remparts" of Reunion Island have enjoyed World Heritage status. 
Réunion Island is a unique territory where mountains meet with the sea, rugged terrain makes for grandiose landscapes, and a third of the island is still completely unspoilt. Its new status confirms it as a destination exceptionally rich in diversity.
It is a reward for each and every Réunion islander: for their love of nature, their respect for this unique heritage and their pride in their natural environment and identity.
Réunion Island now joins the ranks of destinations accorded this prestigious status, designed to "protect natural and cultural properties of exceptional universal value against the threats posed by a fast-changing world".
The island's National Park is the ninth-largest in France, and offers a remarkable insight into the heritage of Reunion Island. It comprises a series of exceptional natural landscapes boasting tremendous biodiversity, with more than 300 native plant species, an original fauna and an active volcano.
Following the inclusion last year of the Maloya, a Reunion Island dance, on UNESCO's Intangible Heritage list, our island is confirming its reputation as a top-flight destination. 

Reunion Island National Park

Despite its small size (2,500 sq km), Reunion Island offers thousands of opportunities to marvel at contact with an exceptional natural environment.   

Reunion Island is a mountainous volcanic island set in the Ocean with a highest point of 3,070 metres. In the heart of the island, there are three cirques (Cilaos, Mafate and Salazie) formed from the remains of three craters of extinct volcanoes. The Piton de la Fournaise volcano, one of the most active in the world, and the lunar landscape of the Plaine des Sables leave an indelible impression on visitors.  The generosity of the climate has transformed the mountain into a Garden of Eden with numerous forests, some of which have survived in their original form.  Réunion Island has managed to preserve an exceptional natural heritage, justifying the inclusion of more than 40% of its territory in a National Park.  With a total surface area of 105,000 hectares, the ninth-largest French national park encompasses 23 of the island's municipalities. This window on to Réunion Island's heritage comprises a series of exceptional natural landscapes boasting tremendous biodiversity, with more than 300 native plant species, an original fauna and an active volcano.
The park, which is designed to preserve the island's heritage and protect the environment, has three areas:  

• The "core": almost all the surface area is classed as a natural area of ecological, plant and wildlife importance. It includes the nature reserves of La Roche Ecrite, Saint-Philippe Mare Longue and the Barau's Petrel protection areas.

• The "inhabited core": this zone is made up of the Mafate and Trois-Salazes plateaux, and is home to 800 people.

• The "farmed core": these are areas where the land is farmed, including the pastures on Piton de l’Eau, cultivated plots at Sans Souci and the Bélouve tamarind plantation at Plaine des Palmistes

The park's mission will be to preserve the natural heritage and exceptional culture of the highlands, a key plank of which is sustainable tourism and development. 

The Mafate cirque

The Mafate cirque is the "Mecca" for hiking on Réunion Island. No roads, no cars: this warren of twisting mountain paths is the exclusive preserve of walkers. The most used access point is Col des Bœufs, which marks the boundary between Mafate and the Salazie cirque, accessible via Grand Ilet. From there, the most direct route leads to La Nouvelle, the "capital" of the cirque (numerous shops, holiday rentals, etc.). 

In Mafate, the network of trails provides plenty of scope for a walking itinerary lasting several days. There are other possible access points: from the west, the river bed of Rivière des Galets, the Orangers channel (along a narrow cliff-side ledge), or by clambering down the steep rempart of Le Maïdo.

Golf in the tropics

Golf has also made its mark in Reunion Island. The island now boasts three courses and an increasing number of players. Why not take advantage of your holiday to try a few swings for the first time or practise your drive?

At l'Etang-Salé, golfers will find the oldest course on the island —some thirty years old— and the one which most closely resembles its European counterparts. Le Colorado, in the Saint-Denis highlands, is a real mountain golf course, with the bonus of amazing views of the Indian Ocean. Calling all golfers who enjoy technical courses! 

Set in the hills above Saint-Gilles, the seaside resort on the west coast, the Bassin Bleu course is named after a stunning waterfall downstream. This very hilly course features tees on headlands, walkways crossing ravines, and unforgettable late-afternoon light. 

One tropical island, three original golf courses: four reasons to come and hit a few shots in Reunion Island! 

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