Isalo National Park is one of the most visited travel treasures of Madagascar. It is nestled in the southwest region and lies about 400 km south-west of Antananarivo, the country’s capital city; and 226 km south-west of Fianarantsoa, Tuléar.
Established in 1962, Isalo National Park prides in several eye-catching natural features of touristic interest such as the striking Desert-like sandstone formations; impressive eroded-rock formations dating from the Jurassic period the most popular being La Fenêtre, which is a natural rock formation; towering baobabs; massive cactus; colourful ancestral tombs; delicate coral reef; Fort Dauphin; Berenty Nature Reserve with its spiny forest, succulents and lemurs; and Libanona where there are beautiful swimming beaches and some of the best tidal pools. These are breathtaking features to be enjoyed on the way to the park.
In Isalo National Park, the dominant vegetation has rare species including the fire-resistant tree tapia, pandanus pulcher, and the locally prevalent feathery palms. Most of these species are concentrated in the canyon base where streams flow. Some sections of the park are covered with dry low deciduous woodlands.
On the rock faces are widespread succulents such as the elephant’s foot.
Visitors should know that the probability of failing to spot a single animal is high in the park on a safari. Animal life isn’t the park’s most prominent feature, however, a few species to look out for include the catta lemur, ring-tailed lemur, red-fronted brown lemur, and blackhead lemur and verreaux sifaka. Isalo is home to rare reptiles such as Oustalet’s chameleon, jewel chameleon, frogs, spiny-tailed iguanid lizard and stump-tailed chameleon. The park visitors cannot miss seeing any of these creatures.
Isalo National Park provides shelter to approximately 55 species of uncommon birds, including the shy Benson’s rock-thrush, Madagascar little grebe, the coucal, wagtail, white-faced duck, partridge, Torotoroka scops-owl, white-throated rail, and Madagascar kestrel.
Other Attractions Of Touristic Interest
While the spectacular mountains of the Isalo massif are the most well-known feature of the park, there are a few other attractions worth seeing in the park.
- Canyon des Singes: The tightly constricted Canyon des Singes (canyon of monkeys) is an interesting day walk from Ranohira, it is better, however, to make it an overnight trip and leave time for exploration.
- Piscine Naturelle: A popular excursion is from the campsite at Canyon des Singes through the Isalo Massif to the Piscine Naturelle. It’s a hot and long walk but the landscape along the way is breathtaking with hidden canyons, brilliantly colored ranges, bizarre strata and the chance to observe sifakas as well as ringtail lemurs.
- La fenêtre (The Window); when you are in Isalo canyon, pay attention to what guides tell you and don’t miss the picture of this La fenêtre. Winds and rains combined their actions so as to give birth to such shapes. It is a rock with an amazing shape of the rock. When sunrays pass through it while the sun is setting, it produces a striking phenomenon.
- Photographic safaris; At Piscine Naturelle there is a natural stone cave that overlooks a waterfall that tumbles into a deep green pool surrounded by overhanging pandanus trees.
- Swimming; This is a common green pool. It is ideal especially after a long hot trip over the massif from Canyon des singes.
- Game Walks
Where to Stay
There is no accommodation within the park, all lodging provisions are found in the nearby towns.