Why Visit: Isalo is the largest national park in Madagascar so you can spend days and days here or pop by for a day and still get to see a variety of what the park has to offer. The park was established in 1962 and features large sandstone formations that have been eroded into beautiful canyons, ridges and pinnacles. It’s reminds of the canyon lands of Utah. In the canyons you find stunning natural pools (that you can cool off in), with lush vegetation and several lemur species. You can also see burial sites of the Barra tribe and learn about the some of the tribe’s practices
Where is it: Isalo National Park is located near the town of Ranohira (singing water) on route 7 between Fianarantsoa and Toilara. It is 700 km south of Tana on one of the best highways in the country.
Getting There: Brousse of Private car to Ranohira (approx 15 hours). However, while it’s possible to make it from Tana to Ranohira in a day, I would recommend stopping for the night in Fianarantsoa so you aren’t worn out for the hike.
Cost: Resident fee 2,000 Ar, non resident fee 65,000 Ar. (exchange rate of about 3,100 Ar to 1 USD). Guides are required for the park and will come to you the minute you step out of your vehicle, but talk to a few to find one that speaks your language and is knowledge about the park. Guide fees for less than 4 hours are 80,000 spilt by up to four people. Guide fee for more than 4 hours 120,000 spilt by up to four people. If you wish to camp in the park companies can provide all the equipment, food, and porters. I’ve also heard that horseback riding in the park is an option.
When to Visit: May-Nov – It’s best to go during the dry season. Many of the trails are impassible in the rainy season and it isn’t safe to be up on the ledge during thunderstorms. There are also parts of the year towards the end of the dry season when one of the natural pools runs dry.
Time and Trails: There are several day hike options for various levels of fitness to see lemurs, natural pools, and rock formations, burial sites, and plant life. You can hike and camp for up to 7 days to takes a large tour of the park. The day hike we did took us up on the ridge of the sandstone formation for some gorgeous views and then down into the canyons to see several natural pools and lemurs.