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Cirque De Mafate: Crazy Cats & Flower Rum In The Mountains


by Gae Ressler



Welcome to the captivating world of Cirque de Mafate. Nestled in the heart of the stunning Reunion Island, this remote and rugged landscape is a haven for adventure seekers and nature lovers alike. Prepare to be enthralled by the awe-inspiring mountains, enchanted by the unique flora, and captivated by the tales of the local residents.


Located in the Indian Ocean, Reunion Island is known for its volcanic peaks and breathtaking scenery. And within this paradise lies the hidden gem of Cirque de Mafate. This ancient volcanic amphitheater is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site and is only accessible by foot or helicopter, giving it an air of mystery and exclusivity.


As you step into the realm of Mafate, you’ll find yourself transported to a different time and space. The absence of roads and vehicles adds to the rustic charm, and the tranquility of this untouched wilderness is soul-stirring. Prepare to disconnect from the modern world and immerse yourself in the raw beauty of nature.


Whether you’re a seasoned adventurer or a curious traveler in search of something off the beaten path, Cirque de Mafate offers a multitude of experiences and wonders to discover. From thrilling hiking trails and panoramic viewpoints, to fascinating encounters with the locals and indulging in unique culinary delights, this captivating corner of the world has it all.


So, lace up your boots, pack your sense of adventure, and get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey into the heart of Cirque de Mafate. Let the mountains call to you, the stories of the locals enchant you, and the beauty of this hidden paradise leave an indelible mark on your soul.


The Magnificent Mountains of Mafate

Prepare to be awe-inspired as you explore the majestic mountains of Cirque de Mafate. With towering peaks and rugged cliffs, this natural wonderland offers a breathtaking backdrop for adventure and exploration.


The landscape of Mafate is dominated by three main mountain ranges: Piton des Neiges, Grand Bénare, and Piton Cabris. These impressive formations, forged from volcanic activity millions of years ago, create a dramatic panorama that will leave you speechless.


Hiking enthusiasts will be in their element as they traverse the countless trails that wind through the mountains. From challenging treks to leisurely strolls, there’s a route for every level of hiker. As you ascend higher, you’ll be rewarded with stunning vistas of deep valleys, cascading waterfalls, and lush greenery.


One of the most iconic hikes in Cirque de Mafate is the trail to La Nouvelle, a remote village nestled in the heart of the mountains. This picturesque hamlet is only accessible by foot, adding to its charm and seclusion. As you make your way through narrow paths and steep inclines, you’ll be greeted by the warm hospitality of the locals and the opportunity to immerse yourself in their way of life.


In addition to hiking, the mountains of Mafate offer a range of other outdoor activities. Mountain biking enthusiasts can tackle the rugged terrain and experience the thrill of downhill descents. Paragliding enthusiasts can take to the skies and soar above the picturesque landscape, capturing bird’s-eye views of the mountains and valleys below.


For those seeking a more leisurely experience, there are numerous viewpoints that offer panoramic vistas of the surrounding mountains. From the Piton des Neiges viewpoint to the Grand Bénare viewpoint, these vantage points provide an opportunity to pause, reflect, and soak in the natural beauty that surrounds you.


Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie or a nature lover seeking tranquility, the mountains of Mafate offer a magical playground for exploration and adventure. Allow the grandeur of these peaks to inspire you, and let the serenity of the pristine wilderness embrace your soul.


Unveiling the Secrets of Cirque de Mafate

As you delve deeper into the enchanting realm of Cirque de Mafate, you’ll discover a myriad of hidden secrets waiting to be unveiled. From secluded villages and ancient trails to breathtaking viewpoints, this remote corner of the world holds a wealth of wonders for those willing to explore.


One of the secrets that make Cirque de Mafate so special is its isolation. Cut off from the outside world, this mountainous region has preserved its old-world charm and traditional way of life. The absence of vehicles and roads adds to its untouched allure, making it a haven for those seeking an authentic and off-the-grid experience.


Throughout the cirque, you’ll stumble upon picturesque villages that seem frozen in time. These remote settlements, accessible only by foot or helicopter, offer a glimpse into the lives of the locals who have chosen to embrace a simpler and more connected way of living.


One such village is Marla, known for its breathtaking location and traditional Creole architecture. As you wander through the narrow streets of Marla, adorned with vibrant flowers and charming wooden houses, you’ll feel transported to a bygone era. Engage in conversations with the locals, savor traditional cuisine, and immerse yourself in their rich cultural heritage.


The ancient trails that crisscross the cirque hold their own secrets, whispering the stories of those who have traversed them for centuries. Each path has its own tale to tell, whether it be the historic footprints of explorers or the legends of mythical creatures said to roam the mountains.


One of the most renowned trails is the Sentier Scout, a challenging yet rewarding hike that takes you to the heart of Mafate. This trail, carved into the mountain slopes, offers breathtaking views of towering cliffs, lush vegetation, and cascading waterfalls. It’s a journey that will test your stamina and reward you with a deep appreciation for the rugged beauty of this hidden paradise.


But it’s not just the villages and trails that hold secrets in Cirque de Mafate. The untamed nature of this untouched wilderness is a treasure trove of hidden gems. Discover hidden waterfalls tucked away in lush gorges, stumble upon secluded viewpoints that offer panoramic vistas, and get lost in the serenity of untouched forests.


Unveiling the secrets of Cirque de Mafate is an adventure like no other. It’s a journey of exploration and discovery, where every step reveals a new wonder and every encounter leaves a lasting impression. Embrace the mysteries that lie within this remote corner of the world, and let the secrets of Mafate captivate your soul.


Tales of Crazy Cats in the Remote Villages

When exploring the remote villages of Cirque de Mafate, you’ll soon discover that the feline population holds a special place in the hearts and stories of the locals. These cats, known affectionately as “ti zanima” in Creole, have become iconic figures within these communities, weaving tales of mischief and resilience.


Meandering through the narrow streets of these isolated settlements, you’ll often come across these curious creatures sunbathing on doorsteps or lazily watching the world go by. Their independent nature and mischievous personalities have earned them a reputation as the “crazy cats” of Mafate.


Each village within the cirque has its own cast of unique feline characters. From the fearless adventurers who can be found perched atop rooftops, surveying their domain with a regal air, to the mischievous pranksters prowling the alleyways, these cats have become an integral part of the local community.


The tales of these eccentric felines have been passed down through generations, forming a rich folklore that blends reality and imagination. Some villagers claim that these cats possess mystical powers, acting as protectors of the village and warding off evil spirits.


There are stories of cats guiding lost hikers back to safety, their keen senses leading the way through the labyrinthine trails. Others tell of cats warning villagers of impending natural disasters, their unusual behavior alerting residents to impending danger.


But it’s not just their supernatural reputation that makes these feline inhabitants so beloved. They also play a crucial role in the ecosystem of the villages. They act as natural pest control, keeping rodents at bay and preserving the delicate balance of the agricultural landscapes.


Despite their independent nature, the villagers have developed a unique bond with these cats. They provide them with food and shelter, while the cats in return offer companionship and entertainment. In the evenings, you may witness heartwarming scenes of villagers playing with these furry friends or engaging in playful conversations with them.


Visiting the remote villages of Cirque de Mafate offers the opportunity to witness the antics and charm of these crazy cats firsthand. Keep your camera ready to capture their amusing poses and infectious energy, and listen closely as the locals regale you with stories of their beloved feline companions.


These tales of crazy cats in the remote villages are a testament to the close bond between humans and animals, reminding us that even in the most isolated corners of the world, the presence of these furry creatures can bring joy and laughter.


Exploring the Unique Flora of Mafate

Step into the enchanting world of Cirque de Mafate, and you’ll be greeted by a stunning array of unique and diverse flora. This remote and untouched wilderness is a botanical paradise, boasting a rich tapestry of plant life that is found nowhere else on Earth.


The isolation of Cirque de Mafate, combined with its volcanic soil and favorable climate, has created the perfect conditions for a remarkable variety of endemic and native plant species to thrive. As you embark on your exploration of this natural wonder, you’ll encounter a fascinating array of captivating flora at every turn.


One of the most iconic plants in Mafate is the tamarind tree. These majestic giants can be found scattered throughout the landscape, creating a sense of grandeur and providing shade for weary hikers. The tamarind’s distinctive drooping branches and feathery leaves stand as a testament to the resilience of nature in this rugged terrain.


Another notable feature of Cirque de Mafate’s flora is the vibrant range of wildflowers that adorn the mountainsides and valleys. From the delicate pink blooms of azaleas to the fiery red petals of hibiscus, the colorful display of wildflowers adds a touch of magic to the landscape, creating a visual feast for the eyes.


The flora of Mafate is not limited to towering trees and blooming flowers. The cirque is also home to a variety of medicinal plants that have been used by the locals for generations. These traditional herbs and plants hold a special place in Creole culture, serving as remedies for various ailments and providing a connection to the ancestral knowledge of healing.


The unique microclimates found within Cirque de Mafate contribute to the diversity of its flora. From humid forests teeming with ferns and mosses to arid slopes adorned with succulent plants, the changing landscapes offer an ever-changing canvas of plant life.


Exploring the unique flora of Mafate is a sensory experience like no other. The fragrant aroma of wildflowers fills the air, while the vibrant colors and textures of the plants captivate the eye. Take a moment to pause and immerse yourself in the tranquility of these natural wonders.


As you wander through the trails and valleys of Cirque de Mafate, don’t forget to tread lightly and respect the delicate ecosystem that sustains this diverse flora. Let the beauty of these unique plants remind you of the importance of conservation and the need to preserve these natural treasures for future generations to enjoy.


Embark on a botanical adventure in Cirque de Mafate, and allow the unique flora to awaken your senses and ignite your curiosity. Discover the wonders of this natural garden and let the captivating plant life of Mafate leave an indelible mark on your journey.


Indulging in Flower Rum: A Local Delicacy

When it comes to unique culinary experiences, Cirque de Mafate never fails to surprise and delight. One of the most fascinating delicacies you’ll encounter in this remote corner of the world is flower rum, a local concoction that embodies the flavors and spirit of the mountains.


Flower rum, or “rhum arrangé” as it’s known in Creole, is a traditional infusion of rum with a variety of locally sourced flowers, herbs, and spices. The process of creating flower rum involves steeping these botanical ingredients in high-quality rum for an extended period, allowing the flavors to meld and create a truly exceptional beverage.


There’s a remarkable art to making flower rum, and each secret recipe has been passed down through generations, ensuring the preservation of this unique cultural tradition. Local artisans carefully select the freshest and most aromatic flowers, such as jasmine, hibiscus, and geranium, along with a blend of spices and fruits.


The result is a delightful and aromatic elixir that captivates the senses. The flavors of the flowers and herbs infuse into the rum, creating a complex and harmonious taste profile that is both refreshing and intoxicating. The vibrant colors of the flowers lend their hues to the rum, creating a visually stunning and enticing beverage.


Flower rum is typically enjoyed as a digestif, sipped slowly to savor the flavors and aromas. It’s a drink that encapsulates the essence of Cirque de Mafate, evoking the wild beauty of the mountains and the rich cultural heritage of the locals.


One of the best ways to experience flower rum is by visiting the small local distilleries and tasting rooms found within the villages of Mafate. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to meet the artisans behind these exquisite creations and learn about the meticulous process of crafting flower rum.


Immerse yourself in the ambiance of these rustic distilleries as you sample different varieties of flower rum. Each batch has its own unique combination of ingredients and flavors, offering a truly personalized and memorable tasting experience.


Whether enjoyed neat, over ice, or mixed into creative cocktails, flower rum is a must-try when visiting Mafate. Not only does it offer a tantalizing sensory experience, but it also provides a glimpse into the rich cultural traditions that have shaped this remote corner of the world.


Indulging in flower rum is more than just a drink; it’s a celebration of the flavors and traditions of Cirque de Mafate. Allow this local delicacy to transport you to a world of taste and aroma, and raise a glass to the beauty of the mountains and the ingenuity of the people who call this enchanting place home.


Thrilling Adventure Activities in the Mountains

Cirque de Mafate is not only a paradise for nature lovers, but also a playground for adrenaline seekers. For those who crave adventure, this remote mountainous region offers a wide range of thrilling activities that will get your heart racing and leave you with unforgettable memories.


One of the most popular adventure activities in Mafate is hiking. With its diverse terrain and scenic trails, this region provides ample opportunities for hikers of all levels. Whether you’re a seasoned trekker or a novice explorer, there are trails to suit every ability, from leisurely walks to challenging multi-day hikes.


For an adrenaline-pumping experience, consider tackling the famous trail to the iconic Piton des Neiges. This challenging trek takes you to the highest peak on Reunion Island, rewarding you with breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The sense of accomplishment and awe as you summit this majestic peak is unparalleled.


If you’re an avid mountain biker, Cirque de Mafate has plenty to offer. The rugged terrain and winding trails present an exhilarating playground for two-wheeled adventurers. Traverse steep slopes, navigate tight corners, and feel the rush of adrenaline as you descend through the stunning landscapes.


Paragliding enthusiasts will find their paradise in Mafate, as the mountains provide the perfect launch sites for soaring through the skies. Experience the thrill of taking flight and witness the stunning vistas from a bird’s-eye view. Soar over the lush valleys, catch glimpses of cascading waterfalls, and breathe in the fresh mountain air as you glide through the air.


For the daredevils seeking an extra dose of excitement, canyoning is an adventure activity not to be missed. Experience the rush as you descend through steep gorges, rappel down waterfalls, and swim through natural pools. Canyoning allows you to immerse yourself in the heart of Mafate’s breathtaking natural beauty.


For those who want to explore the depths of the mountains, spelunking, or cave exploration, is another thrilling option. Descend into the underground world and discover hidden chambers, stalactites, and underground rivers. Explore the ancient lava tubes and delve into the mysteries of Mafate’s geological history.


As you indulge in these adventure activities, it’s important to prioritize safety and respect for the environment. Engage with experienced guides who can provide valuable insights and ensure your adventures are conducted responsibly and in harmony with the delicate ecosystem of Mafate.


Embrace the spirit of adventure in Cirque de Mafate, and let the mountains be your playground. Whether hiking, biking, paragliding, canyoning, or spelunking, the thrill of exploring this breathtaking landscape will leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.


The Charms of Traditional Creole Culture

As you explore Cirque de Mafate, you’ll not only be immersed in its awe-inspiring natural beauty but also have the opportunity to delve into the rich heritage of traditional Creole culture. The local communities of Mafate proudly embrace their unique cultural traditions, which are deeply rooted in the island’s history and diverse heritage.


The Creole culture of Mafate is a vibrant tapestry of influences from African, Malagasy, Indian, and Chinese communities, creating a fusion of customs, music, language, and gastronomy. It’s a celebration of diversity that adds to the charm and allure of this remote mountainous region.


One of the most captivating aspects of Creole culture in Mafate is its traditional music and dance. The rhythmic sounds of sega and maloya reverberate through the villages, accompanying festive gatherings and cultural events. These lively and soul-stirring performances often involve colorful costumes, spirited singing, and energetic dancing, inviting visitors to join in the celebration of life and heritage.


Exploring the villages of Mafate will give you a glimpse into the unique architectural style of Creole houses. These charming wooden structures, known as “cases,” are adorned with vibrant shutters, ornate balconies, and intricately carved details. Walking through the quaint streets, you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped into a bygone era, where time seems to have stood still.


The gastronomy of Mafate is also deeply influenced by traditional Creole cuisine. Indulge in an array of aromatic dishes that combine the flavors of local produce, spices, and techniques passed down through generations. From mouthwatering curries to savory rougail sausages, the cuisine of Mafate reflects the richness of its cultural heritage.


Engaging with the locals is an essential part of experiencing the charms of traditional Creole culture in Mafate. Take the time to strike up conversations with the villagers, listening to their stories and anecdotes. The warm and welcoming nature of the locals will make you feel like part of the community, and you’ll gain a deeper understanding of their way of life.


Immersing yourself in the customs and traditions of traditional Creole culture offers a unique perspective on the beauty and diversity of Cirque de Mafate. Appreciate the artistry, music, architecture, and culinary delights that stem from this vibrant cultural heritage.


By embracing and celebrating the charms of traditional Creole culture, you’ll not only enrich your own journey but also contribute to the preservation and appreciation of the local way of life in this remote and enchanting corner of the world.



Cirque de Mafate is an extraordinary destination that showcases the wonders of nature and the richness of cultural heritage. This remote and rugged mountainous region offers a treasure trove of experiences, from the breathtaking landscapes and unique flora, to the tales of crazy cats and the charms of traditional Creole culture.


As you venture into Cirque de Mafate, you’ll be captivated by the magnificence of the mountains, with their towering peaks, lush valleys, and cascading waterfalls. Hiking through the trails, you’ll uncover the secrets of this untouched wilderness and immerse yourself in a world that feels both ancient and timeless.


The tales of the crazy cats that roam the remote villages will bring a smile to your face and remind you of the deep connection between humans and animals. The local folklore and traditions of Mafate will intrigue and enchant, offering a glimpse into a way of life that has been preserved in this isolated corner of the world.


Exploring the unique flora of Mafate will ignite your senses, as you encounter vibrant wildflowers, towering tamarind trees, and a diverse array of plant life that thrives in the mountainous landscape. The beauty of these botanical wonders will leave you in awe of nature’s artistry.


Indulging in flower rum and savoring the flavors of traditional Creole cuisine will awaken your taste buds and immerse you in the culinary delights of this region. It’s a chance to connect with the local traditions and experience the passion and creativity that goes into each dish and beverage.


For the adventure seekers, the mountains of Mafate offer a playground of thrilling activities, from hiking and mountain biking, to paragliding and canyoning. These heart-pumping adventures will not only get your adrenaline pumping but also reward you with breathtaking views and a sense of accomplishment.


Finally, delving into the charms of traditional Creole culture will open your eyes to the diversity and vibrancy of this unique community. From the music and dance to the distinctive architecture and warm hospitality of the locals, you’ll experience a cultural immersion that will leave a lasting impression.


In conclusion, Cirque de Mafate is a destination that offers a truly exceptional and multifaceted experience. It’s a place where nature’s grandeur meets cultural heritage, creating an unforgettable journey filled with adventure, discovery, and a deep appreciation for the wonders of the world.


So, embark on your adventure into the heart of Cirque de Mafate, and let the mountains, the tales, the flavors, and the traditions captivate your spirit and leave you with memories to cherish for a lifetime.