Cilaos, Reunion Island

Refuge under the roof of the Indian Ocean

an imposing setting
Casario de Cilaos, at the foot of the Piton des Neiges and other sharp peaks of the caldera.
Dijoux couple
Couple of residents of the Cirque Cilaos caldera during a walk through the historic center of the town.
Without hurry
Inhabitants chat outside the local PMVs (games of luck and chance).
One way
One of the modern pink buses that serve Cilaos and the surrounding area completely occupies one of the tunnels leading to the caldera.
At the top of the Meeting
The distant houses of Cilaos, lost in the green expanse of the eponymous caldera.
Bourbon architecture
A child plays in the garden of one of the quaint historic houses in Cilaos.
Village where bread is not lacking
Little baker, something subsumed behind the counter that serves as her work station.
adventure world
A group of canyoners prepare to descend a dizzying waterfall.
No hurry II
Friends live on the main street in Cilaos.
Cilaos appears in one of the old green boilers on the island of Réunion. It was initially inhabited by outlaw slaves who believed they were safe at that end of the world. Once made accessible, nor did the remote location of the crater prevent the shelter of a village that is now peculiar and flattered.

For some reason the access road to Cilaos is unique.

It took advantage of the exceptional section in which the almost vertical slopes of the heart of the island give a little of itself and, even so, it only reached its interior with a daunting engineering effort that began in 1927 and 32 arduous kilometers later, ended in 1937.

Before the road, the access to and from the village, perched on the edge of the mountain, was dizzying and so tight that it made it impossible for hikers to cross in different directions.

Villagers advancing towards coastal cities with ox carts crammed with goods had to wait in strategic areas or for them to retreat to allow the flow of people.

As might be expected, crashes and deadly falls happened all too often.

We take the still adventurous RN5 out of Saint Louis, on the south coast of Réunion. The winding course of the Bras de Cilaos river meanders and narrows as we approach its high source. We are in the dry season. It hasn't rained seriously in these parts for a long time.

The wide and stony bed that we overlook a precipice below the asphalt proves how overwhelming and frightening the flow sometimes becomes, fed by the deluges that every year soak the island.

At its heart, Cirque de Cilaos can be as verdant as it is extreme.

Cilaos, Réunion Island, caldera

The distant houses of Cilaos, lost in the green expanse of the eponymous caldera.

From 7 to 8 January 1966, tropical cyclone Denise swept part of the Indian Ocean, including Réunion. In that 24-hour period, rainfall was counted at 1825 mm, an absolute world record.

We continue to climb. We feel, ever closer, the gigantic walls covered with vegetation, spaces, traversed by gentle bridal veils that break the homogeneity of the green.

Around the Îlet Peter Both, a slower pink bus stops us, which soon makes its way to the local tunnel.

We have the feeling that it was only a miracle that he could slip into that tiny underground passage.

The fact is that, even clogging it completely, the transport goes to the other side of the slope, with us in the glue.

Cilaos, Reunion Island, tight tunnel

One of the modern pink buses that serve Cilaos and the surrounding area completely occupies one of the tunnels leading to the caldera.

Pull over at a stop off the main stretch and gather a group of young people who are discussing and listening to loud music.

Shortly after we passed it, we saw the sharp peaks of the Piton Papangue and the Piton des Calumets.

After a few more of these, we have the Mare Séche to our left, soon, we find the entrance of the elusive community of Cilaos.

Finally, from Entrance to Cilaos Remote, ends of Reunion Island

The afternoon is drawing to a close. The steep cliffs that impose themselves all around and only admit the sun when the star walks around the zenith, precipitate shadow and darkness.

This time, we had even prepared the overnight stay. After a few turns around the block, we found Casa Celina where we had booked a room. "Bon soir Monsieur, Madame, soyez bienvenus!" it is all that we effortlessly understand of the young lady who waits for us and welcomes us with sympathy but an apparently native French accent that quickly makes us despair.

We persisted and there we pioneered the exhaustive briefing that had to be transmitted to us.

We settled in, opened the porch windows. We enjoyed the view that the twilight was turning blue at that time. In front of us are the houses of Cilaos, made up almost entirely of colorful houses and, bordering the main street, some buildings with a maximum of two floors, overall, with little or no historical looks, or too picturesque or photogenic.

Cilaos, Réunion, Chalet Arquitectura Bourbon

A child plays in the garden of one of the quaint historic houses in Cilaos.

All the stars of the universe seemed to have installed themselves in the firmament that a rare absence of clouds exhibited resplendent. We went out for quick food shopping. On the way back, we had dinner under the stars.

The Piton des Neiges and the Boiler Surrounding Cilaos

We probed the silhouettes of the top of the old crater we had entered, determined to detect its peak and the terrestrial peak of the Indian Ocean, projected from the depths of one of its most exuberant islands.

With an altitude of 3069 m but situated on the map just above the Tropic of Capricorn, the Piton des Neiges attracts industrial amounts of rain.

It has not been known for a long time, visible snow, let alone eternal snow. These are meteorological phenomena that are so rare in the area that it is believed that the name prevailed from the last worthy of record, appraised with amazement in 1735.

Accustomed to life in an extraordinary nature, the inhabitants of Réunion and most visitors to this unlikely southern limit of the European Union are eager hikers, hikers and adventurers in near-perfect physical forms that challenge whenever they can.

Cilaos, Reunion Island, canyoning

A group of canyoners prepare to descend a dizzying waterfall.

The most extreme even do it in surreal ways.

This is what happens every year during the Grand Raid Réunion, also known as Diagonal dos Loucos, such is the hardness of its more than 160km, with almost 10 meters of positive slope and a 66-hour time limit.

of the slaves Brown Outlaws to the Current Refuge of Cilaos

The pioneer residents of Cirque de Cilaos also arrived in an insane rush. They fled up the island for freedom, some even for life.

At that time, Réunion still retained its original French name of Île Bourbon, given by the first Gallic settlers in honor of the then royal family. Around 1715, the export of coffee, soon assisted by a strong intensification of slavery, gave the island a decisive economic stimulus.

French settlers brought slaves from the nearest East African coast (including Zanzibar e Mozambique) but also from Madagascar.

Owners called them brown or brown noirs. As it was the hallmark of this era, they treated us in a subhuman way and awakened in many rebellious servants the urgency of evasion.

According to history, it was these slaves, or just one of them, who baptized Cilaos. One of the theories argues that the name of the place came from the Malagasy word Tsilaosa, which means “where you are safe”. A competing thesis goes further.

He says that the cirque got its name from a single Malagasy slave named Tsilaos who would have taken refuge there for some time.

Cilaos to Îlet-à-Cordes along the Estradas Extremas da Caldeira

The new day dawns. We leave Casa Celina ready to explore the village and the interior of the caldera as soon as possible. We start by going through the fascinating D242 which, until its southwestern limit, has its own roller-coaster route.

We pass behind the Église Notre-Dame-des-Neiges of Cilaos, following the inaugural zigzag route of the route – by far its most curious and extreme.

We descend towards the bed of the river Bras de Cilaos, next to the Source Tête de Lion. After a few kilometers, we stopped to appreciate the now distant houses of Cilaos.

Cilaos, Reunion Island, Casario Piton des Neiges

Casario de Cilaos, at the foot of the Piton des Neiges and other sharp peaks of the caldera.

We proceed to those. Almost 15km later, we enter a rural village spread by the relief that allowed the settlement. It seems to us something dry and uncharacteristic which, in that lush surrounding area, surprises us.

Even so, we recognize the charm of the ultimate retreat that the modern and inelegant bus stops cannot cancel out, and which stars in the history made common in Cilaos. We had arrived at Îlet-à-Cordes.

A few days earlier, in the country house of a couple of young French hosts, on the outskirts of Saint Pierre, Guillaume, unconditional supporter of a simple life – as he spread his t-shirt – had advised us: “I, if I were the you didn't stay in Cilaos.

I prefer Îlet-à-Cordes, it's much more genuine.” We soon felt that he could be right, but that if we followed his phobia for the stains of modernity – which made him, for example, reject Wifi at home – it would compromise our work plans.

Genesis is also a Slave of Îlet-à-Cordes

With its vineyards, lentil plantations, beehives and other biological productions exploited by almost 431 residents, Îlet-à-Cordes was one of the first villages in the Caldeira de Cilaos where slaves took refuge.

Most of the current residents preserve their genetics.

Cilaos, Reunion Island, Casal Dijoux

Couple of residents of the Cirque Cilaos caldera during a walk through the historic center of the town.

The browns accessed their kind of mountain flank using ropes that, once installed, removed so that they would not leave a trace of their presence, although, instead, they managed to see the sea and much of the south coast of the island from there.

Still, in 1751, the most famous of the Reunion's slave hunters, Mussard, managed to gain access to the hideout. There he found two fields of browns, felled three of them, and confiscated a lot of weapons and utensils.

Before dedicating ourselves to Cilaos, we return to pass behind the village church and continue to the “sister” road of the D242, the D241.

Back to Cozy Cilaos

We found those sides that led to the opposite end of Bras Sec far less appealing than the path to Îlet-à-Cord.

Except, of course, for the beginning of one of the trails that led to the summit of the Piton des Neiges, a six-hour ascent that most hikers inaugurated around midnight, set to reach the top in time for sunrise. magic of the sun.

We'd already had our fix a few days earlier with the endless climb from Le Maido to the Grand Bénard, two other crucial summits over the edges of the Cirques. We were about to surrender to the tiring discovery of the Piton de la Fornaise, the island's active volcano.

With no time for everything, we were forced to reject once and for all the conquest of the Piton des Neiges and return to welcoming Cilaos.

With most of the hikers recovering in their homes from the strenuous trails, the village surrendered to the peace of a new twilight. We surrender to the fame of the sweet local wine.

Cilaos, Réunion Island, home of PMVs

Inhabitants chat outside the local PMVs (games of luck and chance).

We took them from a stake on a terrace in the center and, before the establishment closed, we asked for two glasses and a samosa for each one. "Only two?" questioned the owner of the bar as if the desire did not make sense. “Look, these are the best samosas in Reunion.

Don't you want a set of each filling first? “We made little or no effort to refuse the offer. Instead, we enjoyed the snack and recharged our energy to go out and discover the village.

Genetic Diversity, at every step through Cilaos

Like what happens on the rest of the island, it is shared today by inhabitants of the most different ethnic groups: French, African, Indian, Malagasy, Arab and Chinese, among others.

Cilaos, Reunion Island, bakery

Little baker, something subsumed behind the counter that serves as her work station.

As we walked down the main street and made new purchases at the local bakery and supermarket, some of the surreal ethnic combinations we found in residents' faces and hair left us in awe.

Large curly, golden trumpets matched with latte skins and deep blue or aqua-green eyes.

Others, markedly Indian figures, surprised us with almond-shaped eyes, lack of eyelids and an unintelligible French-speaking Creole, a consequence of their genetic combination with Chinese immigrants.

Cilaos, Reunion Island, conviviality

Friends live on the main street in Cilaos.

Similar to what was happening in the rest of the island, in remote Cilaos the island also lived up to the last of the baptisms.

There too, far from the always overcrowded coastline of Boucan Canoe, it proved an exotic Reunion.

Reunion Island

The Bathing Melodrama of Reunion

Not all tropical coastlines are pleasurable and refreshing retreats. Beaten by violent surf, undermined by treacherous currents and, worse, the scene of the most frequent shark attacks on the face of the Earth, that of the Reunion Island he fails to grant his bathers the peace and delight they crave from him.
Male Maldives

The Maldives For Real

Seen from the air, Malé, the capital of the Maldives, looks little more than a sample of a crammed island. Those who visit it will not find lying coconut trees, dream beaches, spas or infinite pools. Be dazzled by the genuine Maldivian everyday life that tourist brochures omit.
La Digue, Seychelles

Monumental Tropical Granite

Beaches hidden by lush jungle, made of coral sand washed by a turquoise-emerald sea are anything but rare in the Indian Ocean. La Digue recreated itself. Around its coastline, massive boulders sprout that erosion has carved as an eccentric and solid tribute of time to the Nature.
LifouLoyalty Islands

The Greatest of the Loyalties

Lifou is the island in the middle of the three that make up the semi-francophone archipelago off New Caledonia. In time, the Kanak natives will decide if they want their paradise independent of the distant metropolis.

Mountains of Fire

More or less prominent ruptures in the earth's crust, volcanoes can prove to be as exuberant as they are capricious. Some of its eruptions are gentle, others prove annihilating.
Tahiti, French Polynesia

Tahiti Beyond the Cliché

Neighbors Bora Bora and Maupiti have superior scenery but Tahiti has long been known as paradise and there is more life on the largest and most populous island of French Polynesia, its ancient cultural heart.
Grande Terre, New Caledonia

South Pacific Great Boulder

James Cook thus named distant New Caledonia because it reminded him of his father's Scotland, whereas the French settlers were less romantic. Endowed with one of the largest nickel reserves in the world, they named Le Caillou the mother island of the archipelago. Not even its mining prevents it from being one of the most dazzling patches of Earth in Oceania.
Maupiti, French Polynesia

A Society on the Margin

In the shadow of neighboring Bora Bora's near-global fame, Maupiti is remote, sparsely inhabited and even less developed. Its inhabitants feel abandoned but those who visit it are grateful for the abandonment.
Saint-Pierre, Martinique

The City that Arose from the Ashes

In 1900, the economic capital of the Antilles was envied for its Parisian sophistication, until the Pelée volcano charred and buried it. More than a century later, Saint-Pierre is still regenerating.
Fort-de-France, Martinique

Freedom, Bipolarity and Tropicality

The capital of Martinique confirms a fascinating Caribbean extension of French territory. There, the relations between the colonists and the natives descended from slaves still give rise to small revolutions.
Masai Mara Reservation, Masai Land Travel, Kenya, Masai Convivial
Masai Mara, Kenya

A Journey Through the Masai Lands

The Mara savannah became famous for the confrontation between millions of herbivores and their predators. But, in a reckless communion with wildlife, it is the Masai humans who stand out there.
Thorong Pedi to High Camp, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal, Lone Walker
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit 12th: Thorong Phedi to high camp

The Prelude to the Supreme Crossing

This section of the Annapurna Circuit is only 1km away, but in less than two hours it takes you from 4450m to 4850m and to the entrance to the great canyon. Sleeping in High Camp is a test of resistance to Mountain Evil that not everyone passes.
Itamaraty Palace Staircase, Brasilia, Utopia, Brazil
Architecture & Design
Brasilia, Brazil

Brasília: from Utopia to the Capital and Political Arena of Brazil

Since the days of the Marquis of Pombal, there has been talk of transferring the capital to the interior. Today, the chimera city continues to look surreal but dictates the rules of Brazilian development.
Salto Angel, Rio that falls from the sky, Angel Falls, PN Canaima, Venezuela
PN Canaima, Venezuela

Kerepakupai, Salto Angel: The River that Falls from Heaven

In 1937, Jimmy Angel landed a light aircraft on a plateau lost in the Venezuelan jungle. The American adventurer did not find gold but he conquered the baptism of the longest waterfall on the face of the Earth
cowboys oceania, rodeo, el caballo, perth, australia
Ceremonies and Festivities
Perth, Australia

The Oceania Cowboys

Texas is on the other side of the world, but there is no shortage of cowboys in the country of koalas and kangaroos. Outback rodeos recreate the original version and 8 seconds lasts no less in the Australian Western.
Creepy Goddess Graffiti, Haight Ashbury, San Francisco, USA, United States America
The Haight, San Francisco, USA

Orphans of the Summer of Love

Nonconformity and creativity are still present in the old Flower Power district. But almost 50 years later, the hippie generation has given way to a homeless, uncontrolled and even aggressive youth.
Singapore Asian Capital Food, Basmati Bismi

The Asian Food Capital

There were 4 ethnic groups in Singapore, each with its own culinary tradition. Added to this was the influence of thousands of immigrants and expatriates on an island with half the area of ​​London. It was the nation with the greatest gastronomic diversity in the Orient.
Kigurumi Satoko, Hachiman Temple, Ogimashi, Japan
Ogimashi, Japan

An Historical-Virtual Japan

"Higurashi no Naku Koro never” was a highly successful Japanese animation and computer game series. In Ogimashi, Shirakawa-Go village, we live with a group of kigurumi of their characters.
Bungee jumping, Queenstown, New Zealand
Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown, the Queen of Extreme Sports

In the century. XVIII, the Kiwi government proclaimed a mining village on the South Island "fit for a queen".Today's extreme scenery and activities reinforce the majestic status of ever-challenging Queenstown.
Africa Princess, Canhambaque, Bijagós, Guinea Bissau,
Africa Princess Cruise Part 1, Bijagós, Guinea Bissau

Towards Canhambaque, through the History of Guinea Bissau

The Africa Princess departs from the port of Bissau, downstream the Geba estuary. We make a first stopover on the island of Bolama. From the old capital, we proceed to the heart of the Bijagós archipelago.
Vanuatu, Cruise in Wala
Wala, Vanuatu

Cruise ship in Sight, the Fair Settles In

In much of Vanuatu, the days of the population's “good savages” are behind us. In times misunderstood and neglected, money gained value. And when the big ships with tourists arrive off Malekuka, the natives focus on Wala and billing.
Rainbow in the Grand Canyon, an example of prodigious photographic light
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Natural Light (Part 1)

And Light was made on Earth. Know how to use it.

The theme of light in photography is inexhaustible. In this article, we give you some basic notions about your behavior, to start with, just and only in terms of geolocation, the time of day and the time of year.
Pitões das Junias, Montalegre, Portugal
Montalegre, Portugal

Through Alto do Barroso, Top of Trás-os-Montes

we moved from Terras de Bouro for those of Barroso. Based in Montalegre, we wander around the discovery of Paredes do Rio, Tourém, Pitões das Júnias and its monastery, stunning villages on the border of Portugal. If it is true that Barroso has had more inhabitants, visitors should not miss it.
Ponta de Sao Lourenco, Madeira, Portugal
Ponta de Sao Lourenco, Madeira, Portugal

The Eastern, Somehow Extraterrestrial Madeira Tip

Unusual, with ocher tones and raw earth, Ponta de São Lourenço is often the first sight of Madeira. When we walk through it, we are fascinated, above all, with what the most tropical of the Portuguese islands is not.
Reindeer Racing, Kings Cup, Inari, Finland
Winter White
Inari, Finland

The Wackiest Race on the Top of the World

Finland's Lapps have been competing in the tow of their reindeer for centuries. In the final of the Kings Cup - Porokuninkuusajot - , they face each other at great speed, well above the Arctic Circle and well below zero.
Couple visiting Mikhaylovskoe, village where writer Alexander Pushkin had a home
Saint Petersburg e Mikhaylovkoe, Russia

The Writer Who Succumbed to His Own Plot

Alexander Pushkin is hailed by many as the greatest Russian poet and the founder of modern Russian literature. But Pushkin also dictated an almost tragicomic epilogue to his prolific life.
Garranos gallop across the plateau above Castro Laboreiro, PN Peneda-Gerês, Portugal
Castro Laboreiro, Portugal  

From Castro de Laboreiro to the Rim of the Peneda – Gerês Range

We arrived at (i) the eminence of Galicia, at an altitude of 1000m and even more. Castro Laboreiro and the surrounding villages stand out against the granite monumentality of the mountains and the Planalto da Peneda and Laboreiro. As do its resilient people who, sometimes handed over to Brandas and sometimes to Inverneiras, still call these stunning places home.
Sheki, Autumn in the Caucasus, Azerbaijan, Autumn Homes
Sheki, Azerbaijan

autumn in the caucasus

Lost among the snowy mountains that separate Europe from Asia, Sheki is one of Azerbaijan's most iconic towns. Its largely silky history includes periods of great harshness. When we visited it, autumn pastels added color to a peculiar post-Soviet and Muslim life.
Cachena cow in Valdreu, Terras de Bouro, Portugal
Natural Parks
Campos do GerêsTerras de Bouro, Portugal

Through the Campos do Gerês and the Terras de Bouro

We continue on a long, zigzag tour through the domains of Peneda-Gerês and Bouro, inside and outside our only National Park. In this one of the most worshiped areas in the north of Portugal.
Okavango Delta, Not all rivers reach the sea, Mokoros
UNESCO World Heritage
Okavango Delta, Botswana

Not all rivers reach the sea

Third longest river in southern Africa, the Okavango rises in the Angolan Bié plateau and runs 1600km to the southeast. It gets lost in the Kalahari Desert where it irrigates a dazzling wetland teeming with wildlife.
female and cub, grizzly footsteps, katmai national park, alaska
PN Katmai, Alaska

In the Footsteps of the Grizzly Man

Timothy Treadwell spent summers on end with the bears of Katmai. Traveling through Alaska, we followed some of its trails, but unlike the species' crazy protector, we never went too far.
Cable car connecting Puerto Plata to the top of PN Isabel de Torres
Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

The Dominican Home Silver

Puerto Plata resulted from the abandonment of La Isabela, the second attempt at a Hispanic colony in the Americas. Almost half a millennium after Columbus's landing, it inaugurated the nation's inexorable tourist phenomenon. In a lightning passage through the province, we see how the sea, the mountains, the people and the Caribbean sun keep it shining.
Peasant woman, Majuli, Assam, India
Majuli Island, India

An Island in Countdown

Majuli is the largest river island in India and would still be one of the largest on Earth were it not for the erosion of the river Bramaputra that has been making it diminish for centuries. If, as feared, it is submerged within twenty years, more than an island, a truly mystical cultural and landscape stronghold of the Subcontinent will disappear.
The Toy Train story
On Rails
Siliguri a Darjeeling, India

The Himalayan Toy Train Still Running

Neither the steep slope of some stretches nor the modernity stop it. From Siliguri, in the tropical foothills of the great Asian mountain range, the Darjeeling, with its peaks in sight, the most famous of the Indian Toy Trains has ensured for 117 years, day after day, an arduous dream journey. Traveling through the area, we climb aboard and let ourselves be enchanted.
Mahu, Third Sex Polynesia, Papeete, Tahiti
Papeete, French Polynesia

The Third Sex of Tahiti

Heirs of Polynesian ancestral culture, the Mahu they preserve an unusual role in society. Lost somewhere between the two genders, these men-women continue to fight for the meaning of their lives.
Women with long hair from Huang Luo, Guangxi, China
Daily life
Longsheng, China

Huang Luo: the Chinese Village of the Longest Hairs

In a multi-ethnic region covered with terraced rice paddies, the women of Huang Luo have surrendered to the same hairy obsession. They let the longest hair in the world grow, years on end, to an average length of 170 to 200 cm. Oddly enough, to keep them beautiful and shiny, they only use water and rice.
Cape cross seal colony, cape cross seals, Namibia
Cape Cross, Namíbia

The Most Turbulent of the African Colonies

Diogo Cão landed in this cape of Africa in 1486, installed a pattern and turned around. The immediate coastline to the north and south was German, South African, and finally Namibian. Indifferent to successive transfers of nationality, one of the largest seal colonies in the world has maintained its hold there and animates it with deafening marine barks and endless tantrums.
Napali Coast and Waimea Canyon, Kauai, Hawaii Wrinkles
Scenic Flights
napali coast, Hawaii

Hawaii's Dazzling Wrinkles

Kauai is the greenest and rainiest island in the Hawaiian archipelago. It is also the oldest. As we explore its Napalo Coast by land, sea and air, we are amazed to see how the passage of millennia has only favored it.