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Isalo National Park lies in the southwestern Isalo Massif, and is quite unlike anywhere else on the island. Highlights include several species of lemur and two locally endemic frogs.

This upland massif rises sharply from the surrounding grassy plains, of the impressive gorges and canyons: the Canyon of Rats and the Canyon of Lemurs are highlights. Woodlands are concentrated in the canyon bottoms where streams flow, and where you may, if you’re lucky, spot Verreaux’s sifaka, red-fronted brown lemur or ring-tailed lemur.

Birdlife in the area includes Benson’s rock-thrush, white-throated rail, Madagascar coucal, Madagascar wagtail and Madagascar kestrel. Reptiles and frogs are numerous including: Oustalet’s chameleon, jewel chameleon, spiny-tailed iguanid lizard, stump-tailed chameleon, and two locally endemic frogs, the beautifully coloured Scaphiophryne gottlebei and the brownish Mantidactylus corvus. Enjoy hiking in the park with a picnic lunch, followed by a refreshing dip in one of the clear mountain pools.

Isalo National Park lies in the southwestern Isalo Massif, some three to four hours drive from Toliara airport on the south-west coast. A journey by car from Ranomafana and Fianarantsoa to Isalo takes you through some of the most beautiful scenery in Madagascar, although the wildlife interest of this stretch is limited. As you descend from the highlands there is a fabulous view of the plains of the savannah and huge granite mountains known as inselbergs. You pass through Madagascar’s small wine growing region, where it may be possible to visit a vineyards. The elusive Reunion harrier is sometimes sighted in this area. Plants endemic to the region include the dwarf baobab, Isalo aloe, kalanchoes, pandanus and the elephant’s foot plant.

View suggested itineraries

Key info

  • Ideal for viewing: Benson’s rock thrush, Madagascar cuckoo roller, ring-tailed lemur, Verreaux’s sifaka, red-fronted lemur
  • Where: Ihorombe Region, Madagascar

Wildlife trips

This wildlife location is featured in the following itineraries:

Madagascar Lemurs

This trip idea visits a variety of Madagascar’s habitats, all brimming with endemic fauna and flora. Enjoy guided day and night walks in the forest to search for a multitude of species, including diademed sifaka, black and white ruffed lemur and the tiny nocturnal Madame Berthe’s mouse lemur.

  • When to go: Jan-Dec
  • Duration inc. flights: 15 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £3,795 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea

Southern Highlights

Journey through the highlands to the dry spiny forest of Ifaty, home to an excellent diversity of birdlife and the most bizarre flora. Staying in comfortable accommodation, this trip also visits the Andasibe-Mantadia rainforest for virtually assured sightings of indri, brown lemur and rufous mouse lemur.

  • When to go: Jan-Dec
  • Duration inc. flights: 15 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £3,245 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea

Madagascar’s South & West Photography

Join wildlife photographer Chris Mattison on a unique trip, taking in the best of Madagascar’s prolific wildlife. Visit prime rainforests at Ranomafana and Andasibe and explore equally spectacular dry habitats, with incredible opportunities throughout to photograph the island’s lemurs and other charismatic endemics.

  • When to go: Sep-Nov
  • Duration inc. flights: 20 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £5,495 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour
Suggested accommodation is shown below. Please contact us for further recommendations.

Hotels Jardin du Roy and Hotel Relais de la Reine

Nestling amongst rocky outcrops on the southern boundary of Isalo National Park, these French-owned hotels are amongst Madagascar’s finest. Local stone has been used to construct buildings that appear almost as extensions of the natural rock. Each hotel has a pool, and offers guided walks in the park.