The volcano, Piton de la Fournaise, erupted exactly 3 days after I had walked on it!! I went on a Monday and the eruption happened the same week on Friday.
The main reason we, a colleague and I, actually went was because there was news everywhere that the eruption would happen soon. This was the first eruption this year, 3 months after the previous one in December last year. It is currently one of the most active volcanoes in the world.
I really wanted to go see this one but my schedule was clashing badly with my friends who were going. Two of my other friends, Mark and Maria (English and Spanish assistants) also wanted to see the volcano but we each had different schedules and we were afraid that the longer we waited the less action we would see because the last eruption only lasted a day. Finally the stars aligned themselves. Last minute on Sunday evening we planned to go see the Volcano the following day, Monday.
I work only on Mondays mornings, so I rushed home after, had lunch packed my stuff and off we went to catch the bus at Gare de St Denis with Maria. We met Mark in L’Hermitage and drove the rest of the way.
On our drive up, we were listening to the radio and they just happened to be talking about the volcano and how the eruption was still going on 3 days later. This just fueled our urge even more. We got to Foc Foc parking at 5.30pm just in time before the 6.00pm curfew. It had started drizzling but what was beautiful was driving in and past the clouds to the clear sky.
We started hiking up to Piton de Bert as that was where, we could get a good view of all the action. I was surprised to actually find quite a number doing the same hike on a Monday.
What you need for the hike
- Comfortable tennis shoes/ hiking shoes (better if waterproof)
- Thermal pants/warm pants to walk in
- Sweatshirt /jumper/hoodie
- Warm socks
- Flash light
- Water bottle
- Waterproof bag
It’s interesting how despite the eruption the whole area was cold from even an hour away. However, some of my daring friends who got a way closer to it said the ground was hot. We were really happy when we started seeing the eruption from a far and we obviously got a few shots on our way.
It was already dark when we got to the camping site, luckily it had stopped raining. We got really good spots to pitch our tents, just close to the edge where we could see everything. The sky was also something else; it was all dressed in red.
What you need for camping
- Warm dry clothes to change into or add on top for the night
- Thermos with hot water /tea
- Camp stove – Mark had this really cool portable and very light stove that came with a small cooking pot which I found really useful especially with the cold at night. He also made some tasty rice. He bought it at decathlon.
- Sleeping bag
- Additional warm blanket
- Some food for the night/snacks
- Cloth mask- this was useful and helped me avoid inhaling the cold air at night
- A big plastic mat to spread before pitching the tent on the wet floor
I was the first one to retire to ‘bed’ because I started getting cold. It was 12 degrees. To my defense we were also having an early morning too. It was a really peaceful night aside from the cold plus I also got some sleep. I am happy to also announce to you that there were no mosquitoes or any annoying bugs.
Mark came to wake us up at 3am, helped Maria and I pack up and we started the hike back to the parking lot. Most of the other people camping were still dead asleep. On the way we met a couple of guys also hiking up to go catch the sunrise. It was really cloudy at this time and although we were walking it was barely visible. Furthermore, the volcano at this time was covered by the clouds.
Among the people we met was a group of Army men, which honestly speaking or maybe I should say writing made me really excited. The men in uniform just do something to this girl and I am very High key happy and proud that my boyfriend is in the Army!!
We made it back by around 5.30am just as the sky behind us had started turning red again. Mark drove us to Gare de St Pierre to get the bus back to St Denis. I am happy to announce that on Tuesday all 3 of us reported to work on time!! We made it after a night of camping, a 3hr hike, some sleep and getting a once in a life time opportunity to watch the volcano erupt.
That was adulting right there 🙂
Ps: Be prepared to take nature calls in the bush.
Camping where we did was very safe and didn’t get any bugs at night.
Incase you missed out on the Vlog ; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=twVwicqe1jw