As mentioned before, the drive to Cilaos is considered one of the prime tourist destinations in Réunion.After going there, we completely concur with that analysis! The road is an incredibly curvy mountain road, well maintained, but with extremely tight hairpin turns. In fact, someone apparently counted that there are over 430 curves on the way to Cilaos, and we believe it. Fortunately, we love curvy mountain roads! More importantly, the views along the way were simply a stunning experience of amazing volcanic derived geography dotted with beautiful mountain vegetation the result of the frequent tropical rains they get here.
We left around 8:30 in the morning hoping to get as much sunshine before the afternoon clouds started in the mountains. But, we ended up with a later than expected start on the mountain road. This was because we drove to the road near St. Leu (about 45 minutes on the highway from our boat), and went to top up our gas tank. Only to find I had forgotten my wallet! Ugh, so we had to go back to the boat and start over. We still lucked out though with sunny skies until we stopped for lunch in Cilaos.
In the photo album below, you’ll see a taste of the views we were treated to on the way up. The stop at the end of the last tunnel before Cilaos. A picture of the town of Cilaos before we had lunch and stopped at the information center. And then we drove further uphill to a trail-head which Karen let me walk part way up for some higher views. There I took more pictures of the terrain, but as you will see the clouds had moved in over the mountains and valley. Still, I think this batch of photos captures some of the beauty and wonder of this place.
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You can view the island of Reunion in Google Earth – which has some pretty good resolution imagery and higher than normal resolution 3D terrain. Make sure you tilt your view as you fly over the amazing terrain for maximum effect. Here is a sample screenshot of Google Earth showing the area we visited with the very curvy road highlighted.