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.
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