Travel article: Isalo National Park

Travel blogger: Christelle & Cedric

Trip story: 100 days in Africa!

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Isalo National Park, Madagascar

Madagascar 2 days - June 2019









Last stop on the RN7, Isalo National Park.

We leave the Highlands of Madagascar, rice fields, roads with holes (well that's wrong, there are always holes on the roads of Madagascar) and cold for the sun, a more arid climate and especially Isalo National Park, well known for its rocky massifs and endless hiking opportunities.


A surprisingly easy taxi-brousse ride and always these incredible life scenes with this time a live pig attached to a bike rack, next to live chickens, at each stop about fifty children trying to sell us some chicken legs and other unidentified commodities. Then also a coffin carried on the roof ... Women carrying heavy buckets on their heads (water) or wood. And the brick manufacturers that we can see since Antanarivo.

And what about this man who enters the taxi-brousse with his rifle which does not shock anyone.


In the village of Ranohira, the African Football Cup is in full swing! Madagascar is participating for the first time and is in the process of qualifying for the second round. We go to the only bar with a TV (the only TV in the village), more than 200 Malagasy gathered around a tiny TV and we witness scenes of joy, applause, happiness, 2-0, go Madagascar!


The next day, time to hike in the park. We will walk the classic path of 12 kms namely, the natural pools, the ridge, the waterfall, the lemurs. First stage, 7 kilometers by car on battered tracks and a river to cross, crossing during which the water went into the car!

The sun rises and the mountains burn, we begin the short climb and discover the local traditions. Here the Bara, the dominant ethnic group, bury the dead and a year later during a big ceremony, dethrone them, leave clothes on the spot and bury them again in the final grave. This festival of "turning the dead" homage once again to the dead and it is a question of showing that one always thinks of them. You guessed it, many zebus are involved too! Three weeks later, we see one of these ceremonies, a group running in the street, walking the corpse and "whipping" him with plants.


In Isalo, we will see remains of clothes and continue on the ridge, in the middle of tall grass, everything is dry. There are also many fire-resistant palms (satanas) and mini baobabs, our first baobabs (with not last).

The view of the surroundings emerges as well as on a kind of canyon, hosting many phasmes, this insect that blends shrubs because of the same color and shape as a branch. Unbelievable.


Then another facet of the park is offered to us, a river, beautiful natural pools surrounded by tropical flora. What a contrast with the arid plateau a few kilometers away.

The water is too cold for our taste but this spot will make a great picnic break.

Finally on the way back, a dozen lemurs took up residence at the second picnic spot. Not at all shy, we observe their agility and their jumps.


A very nice park (although expensive for our taste) which is the pride of the country. The landscape changes and the many endemic species found there offer many opportunities for hiking.

Time to get to the west coast now, the sea and new customs with the Vezo ethnic group, a fishing ethnie.


Some recommendations:

# we stayed at Chez Alice. Small bungalows very basic but clean and with hot water. 46,000 ariary at night (11euros). The food is excellent for 3-4 euros per dish.

# Entry to the park is with by a mandatory guide. 120,000 ariary for a group of up to 4 people. We found a co-traveller to share with. And the entrance to the park is quite expensive, 70,000 ariary per person. In addition you have to go by car, 50,000 round trip for the car. Impossible to negotiate as these are the official prices.

# taxi-brousse from Ambalavao: 18,000 Ariary, 5 hours drive. They leave early in the morning in convoy from Fianarantsoa or from Antanarivo.


Leave a comment

Jul 17, 2019 - 08:26 AM

ranomafana = eau chaude ranohira = eau chantante c'est toujours avec plaisir que nous partageons votre périple !