Réunion National Park is located on the island of Réunion in the western Indian Ocean. The region was designated as a national park in order to protect the volcanic features and unique flora and fauna of the land. Covering an area of 1,054 km2 (~407 mi2), the park encompasses almost half the entire island.
The landscape of Réunion National Park is striking, comprising mountains, volcanoes, natural amphitheatres, forested gorges and sheer cliff edges. The diverse and dramatic landscape is the result of millions of years of volcanic activity, tectonic events, extreme weather and steam erosion.
The subtropical rainforests, heath lands and cloud forests of the park are home to a number of endemic plants, thriving only within the island’s delicately balanced ecosystems. Réunion’s wildlife is similarly rare; several bird species are unique to the island such as the Réunion Harrier and the Réunion Cuckooshrike, while others suffer from dwindling populations.
The park’s principal feature is its resident volcanoes - the dormant Piton des Neiges and the rather more active Piton de la Fournaise (‘Furnace Peak’). Its most recent eruption on Réunion was in 2010, lasting two days. Fournaise is a very popular tourist attraction when access is allowed – recent volcanic activity means it may be off limits) and visitors can explore the summit caldera on foot. The terrain is rugged and challenging, so a good level of fitness is required to make the trails. Le Piton des Neiges is the highest point on the island and has several routes to its summit – again, it is a long and arduous hike.
The island is known for other fascinating geological structures too, including ancient steep walls of rock and deep gorges in which rainforests and heaths have flourished.