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CatherineReichardt Says: Ranohira is a bustling little town that serves as the gateway to Isalo. It is a good place to replenish your stocks, and a pleasant place to spend a few days, with some reasonable hotels and some attractive low key tourist destinations such as the colonial era church in the...
CatherineReichardt Says: Hiking the Isalo Massif was quite simply the high point of our Madagascar experience, and I can't recommend it highly enough. However, it can get extremely hot - when we visited (November), the temperature climbed into the 40s and there is not a lot of shade as you trudge...
I haven't had any chance to camp within the park. Still, the nightlife tip that came to my mind was camping.
And yes, there is a camping site near the rockpool, from where to watch the sun setting behind the mountains. Then, be sure to book the "Maki Valley" trail (or "Lemur Valley" or "Maki canyon") trail. It is the one that ends at the rockpool.
Also, you can have this experience once reaching whatever top part of the massif: a 180° view on the area.
Dress Code: for the rockpool, swimwear
for camping nights, warm clothing (fresh nights)
Written May 22, 2004
Address: isalo national park
In Isalo park, sandstone ridges surround the grassy plains. Also, even if you don't see them, Bara tombs are secluded in the rocks. Tombs are dug in the rocks and the entry is blocked by a block of rock. You wouldn't see anything, except when the rock that serves as a gate has rolled out and that bones are seen from outside. Otherwise, you wouldn't notice anything and only guides (and lemurs ?) would know about the locations of these tombs.
For that reason, you'd better ask the guide about what to do, to know (and I prefer you ask). Yet, if he seems uneasy about telling about the tombs, don't insist. Fady (taboos) operate in the region.
Also, in this area (and others in the island), lemurs are considered as those who host the ancestors' spirit. Does that explain why they can jump from a rock to another, nest in the rocks? Mystery for me.
Updated Jul 30, 2004
This is the tourist trap n?1 while visiting the parks in Madagascar. For one main reason, unless you are botanist / biologist, you wouldn't spot the animals easily (are they nightactive, dayactive ? where to spot them the best ?), you wouldn't know about the plants that easily.
Especially, if you look for Maki canyon (valley) / Lemur canyon (valley), it would be a 10-hour-hiking with only lemurs in sight. But if you don't hire a guide, you wouldn't see the path. Also, I was just told that guiding is mandatory in Malagasy parks.
Still, I would like to report that a friend of mine who used to be a guide for some time told me that in Isalo, two Italian tourists went on visiting Isalo park without hiring a guide... Eventually, they have spent 6 hours in the park without seeing anything.
Unique Suggestions: I think that since guiding is mandatory (I was told it), you wouldn't encounter this trap anymore.
Otherwise, if guiding is still non mandatory, hire a GPS, guide books on animals & species, maps of the park you visit, all necessary tools for camping in case you are lost in the park and obliged to camp at dawn.
Fun Alternatives: One alternative: hire a ANGAP guide
See my must-see to know why.
Updated May 20, 2004
Luggage and bags: Plastic bags for your garbage, esp. when you camp.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Good walking shoes, hat, sunglasses
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: sunlotion, mosquito repellent, sunglasses, extra-units of your lenses if U wear lenses, cleaning products
Photo Equipment: Films, lenses, a cover to protect equipment from water spills, dust when you camp or cross rivers.
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: For all season, warm clothing for the night (if you camp there)
Miscellaneous: dry fruit, sugary food, water (min. 2l/ pers)
YA BETTER BRING THEM!
Updated Jan 12, 2004
It's so obvious: hiking would be your n?1 sport in there.
Depending on the circuit you've chosen, you will have to pay attention to your physical condition. Try to evaluate with the guide what would suit you best.
For instance the Lemur/ Maki Canyon circuit would take you like 10 hours of hiking. Some people do it for two days, with camping.
Equipment: walking shoes
warm outfit for the low temperatures at night (if you camp)
a hat / cap + sunglasses
bottled water, water, water
dried fruits, cookies aside your bfasts, diners
sunscreen lotion (sun can be v. strong in summer)
cane for hiking
a plastic bag to put your trash. Please, don't throw your trash in the park (esp. the non-biodegradable pieces), keep them with you & get rid of them at your hotel or where you find a trashbin)
Updated Oct 13, 2006
Address: Isalo National Park