Tread carefully when exploring an active volcano
John Gimlette earns his beach time and discovers his inner sloth in the French playground of La Réunion
Nowhere makes me feel so inert as La Réunion. I discovered my inner sloth while hiking up to the great cirque or caldera of Mafate. I’d hired a mountain guide called Alexis Vincent, and at first everything seemed relatively normal. As we climbed the long ravine, we came across giant snails, a creeper that was pretending to be dead (“Trompe la Mort”), and a helicopter parked on the riverbed.
But then we came to a natural gateway, almost a mile high, and runners appeared. Beyond them, through the portal, there was no obvious run, just a jumble of canyons and jungly peaks, all walled in by the vast blue rim. Alexis told me he often ran races through this bowl of
Foudi birds on Réunion, left; the Catholic church of Bois-Blanc, below