Isalo National Park, Madagascar

Today I would like to take you to one of the most spectacular places on this planet – the Isalo National Park in Madagascar. I went to the Red Island in September 2015 for two weeks with my friends, which was nowhere near enough to see everything we wanted to see as Madagascar is huge (so the famous Avenue of Baobabs still remains on my list of places to visit). While lemurs were obviously one of the highlights, Isalo simply blew my mind with its incredible landscape. We explored it on an 8-hour hike with a fantastic guide, and I certainly would love to go back!

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The map of Isalo’s hiking routes

Isalo is located in the south-western part of Madagascar. It was created in 1962 but traditionally this area was inhabited by the Bara people, nomadic zebu (cattle) farmers of Bantu origin. The Bara have very distinctive funeral traditions – they bury their dead in mountain caves. Isalo has been their sacred place for burials for hundreds of years, and while they don’t live in the park anymore, their ancestors’ graves are still there and the Bara are allowed to access the park for funeral ceremonies. Our guide told us that we must not point at the graves with our fingers but with a fist (if we need to point at them at all), otherwise, according to the common belief, we will offend the ancestors and they will cause our fingers to fall off. This is one of the famous “fady” of Madagascar, the ancestral taboos which rule the lives of everyone in the country. Every ethnic group, every town, village, and even family, has their own set of “fady” which they follow rigorously.

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The Bara tomb covered with rocks in a small cave. It’s hard to imagine how the people got up there with a dead body!

Isalo’s landscape is like another planet. Mostly rocks and canyons, but there are surprises, like a little oasis with palm trees and absolutely fabulous rock pools where you can swim in crystal clear water. There are also some plants which manage to survive in this harsh environment, as well as animals, including chameleons, stick insects, huge locusts, and of course – lemurs! 🙂

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This is a carnivorous plant. Our guide warned us (jokingly) not to touch it as it might eat our fingers! 😉 
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A well-camouflaged chameleon!
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Tapia (pron. ta-pee), a fire-resistant tree endemic to Madagascar
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A stick insect 🙂
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A little oasis of shade and pleasantly cool water
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Elephant’s Foot plant, which looks like a mini baobab and is endemic to Madagascar 🙂 
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A pretty big and funky locust 🙂 

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A very sleepy lemur 🙂 
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More lemurs! 🙂 
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Time to cool down 🙂

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I just couldn’t get enough of lemurs, they’re so cute 😀

Hiking in Isalo is a great adventure, and since the park wasn’t at all crowded during our visit, we had it to ourselves most of the time. This was one of the best travel experiences I ever had, and I really hope to repeat it sometime soon!

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11 thoughts on “Isalo National Park, Madagascar

    1. Hej, niestety nie wiem, ile to może kosztować, bo organizowaliśmy wszystko przez konkretne biuro podróży – nazywają się Boogie Pilgrim i polecam ich usługi 🙂 Na pewno trzeba mieć tabletki na malarię, ale szczepienia typu WZW typu A, wścieklizna czy dur brzuszny nie są obowiązkowe. Ja jestem zaszczepiona na wszystko, co się da, bo przed wyjazdem do Rwandy dostałam cały pakiet (nie był obowiązkowy, ale skoro dawali, to wzięłam) 😉 Co do bezpieczeństwa, to na pewno lepiej jechać z lokalnym biurem i kierowcą, choćby ze względu na barierę językową oraz czasami bardzo skomplikowane kwestie kulturowe. Ja się tam czułam bezpiecznie, turyści na Madagaskarze to nadal dla lokalsów ciekawostka i wydarzenie, spotykałam się przede wszystkim z uśmiechem, zainteresowaniem i gościnnością 🙂 Swoją drogą – to przeogromna wyspa, a drogi kiepskie, przez trzy dni zobaczysz co najwyżej jeden park narodowy! 😉

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      1. Dzięki za informację, zobaczę czy Boogie Pilgrim mają stronę internetową. Pytam o ceny, bo zupełnie nie wiem o jakich kosztach rozmawiamy, ale żadne strony nie podają cen. Interesuje mnie zachodnia część wyspy i konkretnie jeden Park Narodowy. No nic, to zmartwienie na kiedy indziej 😉

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      2. Podaj mi swój email to wyślę Ci plan, który Boogie Pilgrim przygotował dla mnie i moich przyjaciół 🙂 To już wprawdzie było prawie 2 lata temu, ale ceny aż tak bardzo chyba się nie zmieniły 🙂

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