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Settlers from Brittany and Normandy came to Cilaos as early as the 18th century. The area is famous for Les Thermes (hot springs). The thermal baths were constructed at the end of the 19th century, when the area was developed as a spa resort. The original baths were closed in 1987 and have now been turned into a museum, but new ones were built, so you can still take a dip. If you don't want to do that, you can also swim in the nearby river. The new complex is called Établissement Thermal Irénée Accot.

The Cirque de Cilaos resembles a crater (which it is not) and is excellent for hiking. There are several tracks, but Le Bras Sec (14 km) and Ilet à Cordes (22 km) are the most popular ones. You can also climb the island's highest peak, 3069 meter high Piton des Neiges. The views from the mountains are spectacular. The waterfall of Cascade de Bras Rouge can also be visited.

There are several hotels and a camp site in Cilaos. The town's name is thought to come from the Malagasy word tsy laosana, which means 'a place from which one never returns'. Cilaos is 30 km south of Saint-Denis. There is a bus connection from Saint-Louis to Cilaos. That distance is only 20 km, but the narrow road traverses a magnificent gorge and spectacular mountains, so the ride takes about two hours. Even if you are not interested in Cilaos, it is still worth a visit for the breathtaking road alone.


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