In the centre of La Réunion, the tiny French island that bobs in the Indian Ocean between Madagascar and Mauritius, there is another sort of island. This one is even more isolated.
Formed when the magna chamber of a major volcano collapsed some three million years ago, the verdant Cirque de Mafate is separated from the rest of Reunion island by sheer cliff walls, impressive mountains and dense, tropical forest. The only way in or out of the amphitheatre-shaped valley is on foot – or, at a pinch, by helicopter.
Much like the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean, La Réunion is home to a number of indigenous birds, insects and plants not found anywhere else in the world.
Mafate is one of the few places left in the world to see an ecosystem that has developed over millions of years in relative isolation.