Réunionschwarzkehlchen (Saxicola tectes)

Day 4: Îlet à Malheur – Grand Place

Short hike with bird and baguette

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Cock-a-doodle-doo! From 4:30 a.m. we are repeatedly woken up by the roosters, until at 6:30 a.m. the alarm clock really calls us to get up. Now it’s time to get dressed, pack our backpacks and at 7:00 we go to breakfast. We start the day with baguette, butter, jam, and tea.
We set off at 8:15 am. Today’s 8 km hike from Îlet à Malheur to Grand Place leads us first downhill and then uphill again. We tend to go up first, towards Îlet à Malheur les Hauts.
Aufstieg in Richtung Îlet à Malheur les HautsAufstieg in Richtung Îlet à Malheur les Hauts, © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 28mm, 1/60s, Blende 8, ISO 720
We make excellent speed on the easy path, which – how could it be otherwise – again has a few steps. The path leads us to the Grand Ravine gorge. We cross the river on a wobbly one-person suspension bridge (which is a cinch for us experienced Norwegians) and zigzag our way up the slope on the other bank. You can see the path well in the middle picture. We then walk through a Filao avenue to Îlet à Bourse, a very small village, which we reach after 1 hour 20 minutes. Here in the forest grows Chinese bamboo, also called blue bamboo. The size comparison with Markus shows well the dimensions of this really huge giant bamboo!

Piton Cabris und Pass Bord Bazar, rechts im Bild Aurère, © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 41mm, 1/125s, Blende 8, ISO 64
Grand Ravine, © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 24mm, 1/100s, Blende 8, ISO 64
Elisabeth im Blütenmeer (Îlet à Bourse), © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 50mm, 1/160s, Blende 2.8, ISO 64
Markus vor einem RiesenbambusMarkus vor einem Riesenbambus, © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 40mm, 1/60s, Blende 2.8, ISO 64

We leave Îlet à Bourse and descend steeply into the narrow gorge of the Bras d’Oussy, which we cross at an unspectacular ford. On the other bank we start climbing again and soon reach the plateau of Grand Place. We enjoy the wonderful views back to Îlet à Bourse and the gorge. And in the very background, quite hazy in the right third of the picture, you can see Roche Écrite again.
We take a longer break in the forest and discover a cheeky little bird. Research at home shows it is a Réunion stonechat (Saxicola tectes), which is known for its curiosity. This actually very curious fellow hops and flies around us the whole time, and we enjoy the company and entertainment.

Blick zurück auf Îlet à Bourse, und den tiefen Einschnitt des Bras d’ Oussy, links der Piton Cabris, rechts Le Cimendel (und dahinter recht diesig Roche Écrite)Blick zurück auf Îlet à Bourse, und den tiefen Einschnitt des Bras d’ Oussy, links der Piton Cabris, rechts Le Cimendel (und dahinter recht diesig Roche Écrite), © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 34mm, 1/80s, Blende 11, ISO 64
Le Rempart, © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 70mm, 1/80s, Blende 11, ISO 64
Réunionschwarzkehlchen (Saxicola tectes), © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 70mm, 1/160s, Blende 2.8, ISO 160
Weg, © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 35mm, 1/80s, Blende 11, ISO 200
Durch den Wald nach Grand Place, © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 24mm, 1/50s, Blende 11, ISO 200

We continue, unfortunately without the bird. The path leads past terraced gardens and banana trees and many chickens and roosters, which we hear more than we see. The Îlet Grand Place is the largest Îlet in Mafate, with three different plateaus: Grand Place “Cayenne”, Grand Place “Ecole” and Grand Place “Les Hauts”. Coming from the heights, we first reach Grand Place “Les Hauts”.
Bananen und HühnerBananen und Hühner, © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 44mm, 1/100s, Blende 11, ISO 140
The following two pictures give us a preview of tomorrows pass, La Brèche, in front of the mighty Rémpart. We will come out of the valley to the right/back and then hike along the narrow strip of forest to the left out of the picture to Roche Plate.

Grand Place les Hauts, im Hintergrund Crête des Orangers und La Brèche und dahinter der RempartGrand Place les Hauts, im Hintergrund Crête des Orangers und La Brèche und dahinter der Rempart, © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 27mm, 1/60s, Blende 11, ISO 64
La Brèche (1293 m)La Brèche (1293 m), © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 70mm, 1/160s, Blende 11, ISO 250

After a total of 3 hours walking time, we reach the centre of Grand Place, where we take a longer break in a boulangerie, with salami baguettes and Dodo, probably the most famous beer in the region. Markus already gave us more information about it in the previous article. 😉 Near the boulangerie, we discover a lonely goat on a very bare fenced-in area, desperately trying to reach fresh green outside. Markus can’t stand by and feeds it fresh herbs from outside – and we almost took it with us!🐐
The weather today? Sunny and warm. In other words, we did work up a bit of a sweat, despite the short stage today 😉 From the break we walk about 20 minutes to Cayenne, where we arrive quite comfortably at 1:50pm.
We only get into our gîte (Gîte de Grand Place Cayenne) after 3 pm. The children of the house run around the property, but we are consistently ignored. So we sit down on the grass in front of the gîte by the church, read and write our diary. It’s good that the weather is so beautiful today!
Punctually at 3 p.m. we can check into our room. We use the free afternoon to have a shower and do the laundry. We dry our wet clothes on the railing in front of our room. Practical, we thought, because we have a good eye on them. What we didn’t think of: The helicopter landing pad is right below. And of course the helicopter is landing right now, supplying the place with food etc. We can’t react that quickly, so the first pieces of laundry are already flying through the area … 🚁 You can guess the rest 😂 and yes, we recovered everything.

Grand Place CayenneGrand Place Cayenne, © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 70mm, 1/320s, Blende 2.8, ISO 64
Gîte Grand Place CayenneGîte Grand Place Cayenne, © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 24mm, 1/50s, Blende 8, ISO 160

We spend the rest of the afternoon reading and sleeping. The sun sets shortly after 6 pm, and at 7 pm we have dinner. Today, a couple from Munich sits at the table with us, which makes conversation much easier! The menu: as always, the highlight of the evening is a delicious chou salad, similar to the well-known coleslaw.

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