From Roche Plate there are two paths that lead to Marla. On the one hand, the GR R3 via Trois Roches and Îlet Plaine des Sables and our GR R2, which leads via La Nouvelle to Marla. While the first one has a gentle 750 meters of altitude and is about 8 km long, the GR R2 comes up with a special fun factor: Roche Plate is at 1,140 m, first it goes gently up to the pass below Le Bronchard, then steeply down to the now well known Rivière des Galets (742 m) and immediately steeply up again to La Nouvelle, which is at 1,450 m and then – with some ups and downs – further to Marla at 1,640 m. Order of magnitude more than 1,000 meters of altitude, some steep, and about 13 km.
To make it easier for you to follow, we have created a map of the tour days in Cirque de Mafate. (Kartendaten © OpenStreetMap contributors, Track Lustwandler.at):
We start after a short breakfast of baguette, butter, jam and tea already shortly after 7 o’clock, about an hour later we look back to Roche Plate, La Brèche and the massive crater rim.
Blick zurück auf Roche Plate und La Brèche, © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 35mm, 1/160s, Blende 8, ISO 64
Below Le Bronchard – which we skipped climbing – we can already see in the distance the only 3,000-meter peak on the island, the Piton des Neiges. In a few days, starting from Cilaos at 1,200 m, we will take on the summit.
Morne de Fourche (2.267 m), Gros Morne (3.019 m) and Piton des Neiges (3.069 m), © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 28mm, 1/125s, Blende 8, ISO 64
Between us and La Nouvelle there is the Rivière des Galets, which has dug deep into the porous subsoil. Unfortunately, there is no swaying hanging bridge high above the gorge here – we have to go down and, what is worse, up again. We stand in the glaring sunlight, the gorge is black and dark below us.
Abstieg zum Rivière des Galets, © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 33mm, 1/80s, Blende 11, ISO 160
Before we descend, we take a look at the opposite slope. According to the map, our ascent runs over there and after a brief search we recognize the path in the lower part. In the center of the picture it disappears, we assume that it then briefly goes to the right into the part illuminated by the sun. The further course leaves us clueless, either relatively directly upwards or a traverse to the left above the steep drop. On va voir! 😉
The wall, © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 28mm, 1/60s, Blende 11, ISO 450
Aufstieg vom Rivière des Galets (Ausschnitt), © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 24mm, 1/50s, Blende 11, ISO 640
We now turn our attention to the descent, Valerie and Benoit have disappeared from our sight while we were guessing about the path. The trail is as expected. Steep and rocky, sometimes rutted. From time to time the path is quite narrow and broken out, some attention to the choice of steps is necessary. However, in these places the path is usually also insured with a steel rope, so not further a problem.
We are fortunate, the Rivière des Galets has hardly any water and we manage crossing the river with dry shoes. There are three crossings because you have to switch back and forth between the sides due to large boulders. At the end, you can only get out of the riverbed with the help of two ladders or advanced climbing skills, the two ladders can be seen in the next picture in the background.
It is almost 10 o’clock when we start the ascent again. By now it has become really hot and the prospect of going up 700 HM nonstop now motivates us. Not! The prospect of a good lunch in La Nouvelle, however, does, so let´s go!
The big picture above shows again the opposite side and you can see parts of the path we went down earlier. On the next two pictures you can see the Rivière des Galets, taken from different heights. The left picture shows the view against the direction of the river with the Rempart in the background, the right picture is taken in the direction of the river towards Dos d’Âne (which of course you can’t see anymore).
Now we are already high enough to have a view over the pass that we have already crossed today. The view reaches Roche Plate, where we started this morning. From this perspective it is even more impressive in front of the vertical walls of the Rempart.
Weit oben sehen wir auf einmal Roche Plate wieder, © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 28mm, 1/60s, Blende 11, ISO 110
No, don’t worry, just for show – everything is fine. But we are hungry and thirsty, our water supply is now used up, it was a hot climb with little shade. It’s 12:15, so just over 2 hours for the climb out of the riverbed.
A little later we are in La Nouvelle, pass the church and then immediately drop into the Bistro des Songes. From the speakers there is good music, it smells temptingly of food and we choose omlettes, salad, frites, mango juice and Coca Cola.
A bit full and sluggish we rise again – unfortunately La Nouvelle is not our final destination for the day, we have booked a gîte in Marla. We continue at 2 pm, Marla is posted with 2 hours walking time and exactly as such we will need. The path is much more comfortable than that of the morning. The ground is softer, there is much more vegetation and shade. Unfortunately, we are thoughtless and take somewhere the wrong turnoff “Route River” and leave the R2. This alternative route leads down to the river and then of course back up again and it won’t be a surprise to you, we curse a bit, because we already had enough altitude meters today. However, no harm without a gain, along the bonus trail we enjoy calla lilies and huge cacti. We also meet some nice guys, first a French couple who had been hiking in Imst in summer and a Belgian couple, with both we chat for a while.
In Marla we are being welcomed by an extremely friendly resident, meet the two Germans from Cayenne at the bar again and then already take our own little house in the Gîte Fanélie Cesar. From 5 – 7 o’clock we have time to shower and rest in the cozy bed, at some point a chicken walks in through the open door and a dear house and yard dog is also here. Dinner is very good, this time with soup and dessert and very tasty sausages. Afterwards we go immediately to sleep, after all it was a long day!
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