31 July 2017 Le Port, Reunion
We finalised our route in Mafate and Glenys booked accommodation for two nights. We’re going to get a bus up to Dos d’Ane, then walk to Aurore which should take six hours. The second day will be a five hour hike to Ilet des Latinniers and the third day we’ll walk out of the Cirque along an impressive looking exposed trail called the Canalization de Orangers.
We’re looking forward to spending time in the Cirque de Mafate because there are no roads. Everything is brought into the valley by foot or by helicopter. There are a number of small villages dotted around the slopes of the ancient crater, so it will be interesting to see how the villagers lifestyle compares to the hustle and bustle of the coastal towns.
I replaced the two windlass switches with new ones bought in the UK and the day was over.
1 August 2017 Le Port, Reunion
In the morning, I replaced the switch for the low pressure pump on the water-maker. It’s been tripping out and I’m hoping that the new switch will sort the problem. My biggest fear is that the low pressure pump is faulty, which would be a nightmare to replace. Unfortunately, I can’t test the water-maker now because it’s pickled and I don’t want to run it until a few days before we leave the marina. Fingers crossed.
Just before lunch, I polished the repaired stanchion as best that I could and fitted it in place - it looks OK, but I’ll get it polished properly when we get to South Africa.
We spent the afternoon packing our rucksacks to go away for three days. Glenys nipped into town to buy sliced bread, cheese and salami for our lunches while up in the Cirque. We’ll carry it in because we’re not sure if we’ll be able to buy any provisions in the small villages where we will be staying.
In evening, Karen and Graham from “Red Herring” came around for dinner. We’ve been trying to catch up with them for a few months’ now, so we had a lot to catch up with.
2 August 2017 Le Port, Reunion
We caught a bus from the Le Port bus station up to Dos d’Ane (pronounced Doe Dan) and walked down to the river at a place called Deux Bras (Two Arms). The trail starts about 100 metres past the church and winds its way, 800 metres down a very steep slope, but it’s all in shady forest and the path is good.
After crossing the river at a ford, we walked along the river and then up the southern lower slopes of Piton Cabri, which is an impressive rocky hill with a fabulous looking ridge. It would be a great climb along the ridge to the summit, but would involve a night camping half way up, so is out of bounds to us.
As we progressed higher along the lower slopes, we had some great views of the Cirque de Mafate and the trail became steeper and steeper. The final push was grinding up hundreds of steps zig-zagging up a gully to the flat plain of Aurore. After a short rest to ease our quivering thighs, we strolled down to our accommodation at Aurore, arriving at 15:00.
Gîte le Fanjan was a pleasant place with two, 4-bed rooms in a new building. They had a dining room and a small well stocked shop where we were able to buy a few beers and a nice bottle of red wine, which cost only €5 - amazing considering that everything has to be carried or helicoptered into the valley.
It soon began to get cold in the late afternoon, so we climbed into bed and had an hour’s nap after our 6 hour hike. The Gîte had no common room and it was obvious that there was no heating anywhere, so we put on ALL of the clothes that we had including our down gilets and waterproof jackets and lurked in the dining room.
There was a family of four Austrians staying in the other room, so we had a pleasant dinner with them. The food was excellent - a chicken curry, a sausage curry, rice, salad and the obligatory lentils. It was enough to feed fifteen people, so we all tucked in with determination, but only managed to eat half of it.
The owner produced a bottle of Rhum Arrangé (Arranged Rum), which is a kind of liquor. The base ingredient is 70-proof white cane sugar rum into which is placed various herbs and fruit, such as orange, ginger and aniseed. It’s sweet and very strong, so we slept well.
3 August 2017 Le Port, Reunion
We left Aurore at 09:00 and walked for six hours to Ilet des Latinniers. Our route took us through a few villages - Ilet a Malheur, Ilet a Bourse and Grand Place. It was a good hike mostly through forest with some steep drops into river valleys and a few gruelling ascents. We stopped for lunch in Grand Place at a convenient picnic table - they are well geared for hikers in this valley.
From Grand Place, we had a steep descent down to a river and then an equally steep ascent to the village of Ilet de Latanniers, finishing along a narrow ridge - the village is perched on a small plateau beneath some impressive cliffs.
The Gite Cernot Jean Pau was a huge disappointment. Allegedly they have 40 beds, but the place is tacky, cramped and run down. The two toilets had no seat, the two showers barely functioned and the rooms were grim. Our private double room had the family chest freezer shoved in the corner. There was no storage space in our room and the evening meal was barely adequate for the four people at dinner - sausage curry, with rice and lentils. They still charged the premium price of €45 per person - obviously no pride in their establishment.
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