Lake Dziani - A walk in Petite Terre on Mayotte Island
During the four years I spent on the island of Mayotte, I had the opportunity on several occasions to do this short hike around Lake Dziani Dzaha. This article is a continuation of the 20 things to do on the island of Mayotte. Today’s hike brings you to the island of Petite Terre.
Lake Dziani on Mayotte Island
Many people wonder where the island of Mayotte is on a world map. This volcanic island is located in the Indian Ocean, situated between the island of Madagascar and the African continent, in the Mozambique Channel. The island is accessible from France but also from Reunion Island (3 hours flight).
In 2011, Mayotte became the 101st French department, and thus joined Reunion Island, Martinique, Guadeloupe and French Guiana. The island of Mayotte is packed with beautiful things to see and do. Among them, the hike around Lake Dziani Dzaha remains an unmissable part of the island.
How to get to Lake Dziani?
You should already know that the island of Mayotte is actually composed of two main islands, the “grand terre” where the majority of the population lives, and the island of “Petite Terre”, where the airport is located. Other small rocky or white sand islets can be found all around the island, in the lagoon or on the coral reef.
Lake Dziani Dzaha (Dziani means lake in Shimahorais, the local language) is located at the northeast end of Petite Terre. If you are sleeping on Grande Terre, you will have to take the barge (local ferry) between Grande Terre (from Mamoudzou) and Petite Terre (village of Labattoir). It takes about 30 minutes to cross over. On arrival, you have two possibilities. Either you decide to walk around Petite Terre and go through the Lake Dziani hike, or you take the first taxi that passes and ask it to drop you off at the beginning of the hike. It’s up to you according to your way of wanting to discover the island and your level of walking.
Note that if you go around the island on foot (this is the GR1 – tour of Mayotte), the walk will take you on the Badamiers road, to the walk of the Dziani Lake, to the famous beaches and maars of Moyas (former explosion crater), to the site of “la Vigie” near the airport, to the visit of the village of Pamandzi and a return to the barge. The distance is about 15 km and plan to take a day for the walk. It will also be an opportunity to see the local houses, traditionally made of sheet metal and coconut leaves.
Hike to Lake Dziani
But let’s get back to the walk. For geographers and the geological origin of the site, Lake Dziani is a shallow volcanic crater lake, dated to about 4000 years ago. According to recent studies of this Mahoran curiosity (core drilling in the sediments in particular), the green lake has the particularity of being salty and alkaline (ph9). The latter would be mostly devoid of oxygen. That’s it for the little story.
Concerning the hike, it starts on the Badamiers road, just after the village of Totorossa. A small path leads fairly quickly to the edge of the site where the change of scenery is total.
Great views of Lake Dziani…even if the weather was not perfect…
From the top, there is a very beautiful view of the lake with a great view of the turquoise-green color of the lake, which varies according to the weather and the day. I advise you to go for a walk on your left and to walk on the small dirt path at the edge of the crater. On your left, you will have the pleasure to admire the view of Grande Terre and the lagoon.
Going a little further along the path, another viewpoint comes into view. You have a complete view of the lake and its beautiful color. I specify that it is forbidden to swim in the lake, even if it is theoretically possible to go down to the edge of the lake on a small beach.
Continuing down the road, you get at the last real point of view of the lake, which overlooks the beach of Papani (Mtsanga Papani in local language). From here you have a breathtaking view of the ocean and the wonderful cliffs made of volcanic rocks. There are even sections of fallen cliffs on the beach.
From there, you can either return to your starting point, or continue towards (what I recommend) the beaches of Moyas where you can go down to. If you leave early enough, it is then the opportunity to take a break under the shade of these very photogenic white cliffs. Take advantage of this moment for a small swim on these beautiful beaches and a visit of the mangrove. You can even sometimes observe traces of sea turtles that have come to lay their eggs at night.
View of the fallen boulders on the beach (left) – Cliff on the seafront on Moya beach (center) – Viewpoint on the cliffs of Lake Dziani (right)
For the bravest, the trail continues through the bush towards the site of “La Vigie” in the manioc fields and on the slopes of the ancient volcano. You then reach the east of the village of Pamandzi, from where you can walk to take the barge back to Grande Terre. Personally, I find the return trip of limited interest, and I advise you to take a taxi (it’s not expensive) to get back to the barge.
Summary of the hike to Lake Dziani
- Tour of the lake: 45 min and about 4 Km,
- Tour de Petite Terre: about 15 Km – plan the whole day,
- Highest point of the tour of the lake 105m (approx.),
- Bring water, sunscreen and a cap (there is no shade),
For the fauna/flora lovers, you can cross some makis (lemurs). -> Well, thanks to those who pointed out to me that indeed there are no makis on Petite Terre (Let’s blame that on the heat when you are around the lake…)
That’s for this little discovery; I hope you enjoyed the ride anyway. The site, even if it is very well known locally, remains not very visited overall. If you want to walk and dream of the island of Mayotte, don’t hesitate to do the Mount Choungui hike.
Don’t hesitate to go and have a look at the Mayotte Tourist Office website, which presents the Lake Dziani hike and other good addresses to discover on the island (sorry in French).
Speak to you very soon,