A hike to Mount Choungui
After having lived almost four years on the island of Mayotte, I recently told myself that it would be time to tell you about this place, this island in a lagoon that I keep in my heart. For those who love geography, and if you haven’t read my first article, here are in my opinion the must-haves for a trip to the island of Mayotte. In this article, I will talk to you about the famous Mount Choungui.
This French island in the Indian Ocean is located in the Mozambique Channel between Africa and Madagascar. It mainly consists of two islands: Grande Terre and Petite Terre. A few volcanic islets and white sand/coconut palms can be found all around the island.
The island of Mayotte
For many people (myself included), this French territory is particularly famous for scuba diving (sea beds, corals and splendid reefs) and its fauna and flora (spawning sea turtles, baobabs, Ylang Ylang plantations, its lemurs (maki)). However, for hikers, the island has a few hiking trails possible mainly in the dry season (during the rainy season, the hiking trails can be very slippery). One of the most beautiful hikes on the island remains the ascent of Mount Choungui (Mlima Choungui in Shimaore).
From a geological point of view, Mount Choungui is a phonolitic extrusion (it’s my geologist side speaking), a lava flow more recent (during a volcanic eruption) than the rest of the island that formed this particular relief.
Let the mountaineers be reassured, we are far from being on the peaks or the big treks of Reunion Island. Mount Choungui is the second highest mountain of the island (behind Mount Bénara). The highest point is 594m.
How to get to Mount Choungui?
To get there, take the road to the south of the island, towards the village of Chirongui. A secondary road is visible at the exit of the village of Tsimkoura in direction of Kani-Kély. Stay on this road in direction of Choungui village. The starting point is about 500m before reaching the village of the same name. You can see a water tank by the side of the road and a few picnic tables.
Here is the itinerary on Google Map for those who like to plan things. I reassure you, the island of Mayotte is small and you won’t get lost!
The hike to Mount Choungui
You can start walking on a trail, normally quite well maintained, in undergrowth and in the shade next to banana plantations and other crops. Up to the junction on the left (marked by a sign) which announces the beginning of the climb, the path is very easy. However, I recommend avoiding the rainy season (too slippery). After the path in the undergrowth, the slope gradually gets steeper and that’s where the climbing starts! You will then walk in a wood in the shade filled with roots, trees and stones. The whole can still be very slippery. The middle section is difficult to climb and you will often have to put your hands on the ground and hold on to everything you can to be able to climb (roots, trunks, etc.).
When I tell you that some passages are really tricky!
The end of the climb is easier and the path winds out of the forest. The first points of view are already superb. Once arrived at the top, a small path leads to a magnificent 360° panorama which allows to observe the entire south of the island of Mayotte. The view from the top is breathtaking and allows you to observe all the beauty of the island: the coral reef, its lagoon, its mangrove areas, its villages at the bottom of the bays, its beautiful beaches. A rock with a particular shape adds a nice touch to the site.
- Bring something to drink in your backpack because there is no water point and the effort is hard. At the top, the sun doesn’t help (sun cream is mandatory!),
- At the time, it was possible to spend the night in bivouac at the top to admire the sunrise in the morning. I didn’t have the opportunity to do it but a good fleece, a headlamp and a comforter seems to me necessary,
- Hiking shoes mandatory (I have a friend who wanted to try it in flip-flops…),
- Count 2h / 2h30 for the ascent, a good break at the top and the descent.
To remember for the walk to Mount Choungui
- No need to be a great walker to climb to the top,
- Some parts of the course are very steep and have a significant gradient,
- The view from the summit is grandiose on this paradisaical lagoon and the surrounding villages,
- The descent is more dangerous than the ascent,
- Allow 25 minutes to 1 hour for the ascent depending on your physical condition,
- I do not recommend it with a baby or young children.
There you go, I hope you enjoyed this little walk on Mount Choungui. You should also know that if you have the opportunity, you can take a ULM tour of the island. The pilot will often take you for a tour of Mount Choungui. What a superb view from even higher up! The ride to Mount Choungui is clearly one of the things to do on the island of Mayotte. If you like hiking, why not go for a ride on Lake Dziani too (subject of a future article coming soon)?
To relax, spend your afternoon on one of the beautiful beaches in the south of the island with a view of Mount Choungui. Admit, the view is superb, isn’t it?
For those who like the African atmosphere of the island of Mayotte, I also recommend you to go on a safari in the Lake Manyara National Park in Tanzania, a superb park that I had the opportunity to discover a few years ago.
Have a nice walk,