Reunion's dramatic Cirque de Cilaos is a natural wonder and visitors will love the memorable drive that leads them toward the stunning cirque, with all its twists and turns and numerous tunnels. But the sometimes nail-biting drive is well worth it! When you reach the cirque itself, you'll be treated to colourful fields of flowers, forests of unique indigenous trees, and soaring walls and pounding waterfalls that attract the most avid canyoners.
As a matter of fact, canyoning is quite a popular activity here and those serious about this outdoor pursuit travel here from many countries around the world to enjoy the best of the sport in this rugged yet pristine location.
For those who prefer to stay out of the water, many outfitters also offer rock climbing excursions for both beginning climbers and those with previous experience.
If canyoning or climbing are too strenuous, hiking and trekking are excellent ways to see this cirque. You'll find plenty of groomed hiking and mountain biking trails for energetic guests, ranging from easy to difficult, all offering wonderful photo opportunities. Visitors will travel up and down hills, past magnificent waterfalls, and perhaps stop at the village of Cilaos, where they can visit a vineyard or two to sample the excellent local wines, indicative of the fine French traditions of wine-making. The area is also known for its production of lentils - a grain that is plentifully used in delicious local dishes - and its beautiful embroidery work.
Be sure to include a walk up to La Roche Merveilleuse, where you can enjoy a view of the village and forests below, and don't forget to stop to see the thermal baths which, long ago, enticed those from the French mainland to come and make their home at the Cirque de Cilaos.
The Cirque de Cilaos is centrally located on the Island of Reunion and the name of this cirque or "caldera" is said to have its origins in the Malagasy word Tsilaosa, which means "the place one never leaves", Some believe, however, that the name resembles that of a runaway slave names Tsilaos, who took refuge here. The runaway slaves, otherwise known as "black-browns" believed that at Cilaos' high altitude, they were safe from capture. This proved not to be the case, most were apprehended, and many were killed in the process.