There’s Jim on the edge of the canyon
Our primary destination in Southern Madagascar was Isalo National Park. We finally reached here after a week, including four good days of driving from Antananarivo. Here we witnessed what one comes to Madagascar for — beautiful scenery peppered with exotic flora and fauna that you just won’t see anywhere else in the world.
In the week we’ve been traveling South in Madagascar, we’ve passed through innumerable villages bursting with activity
On the right is Bio, our driver this past week. We don’t usually hire a driver over an extended period, but this worked out really well. Bio is a very good driver, is super pleasant and accommodating, and gave us a lot of confidence that nothing too crazy would happen as we explored these really remote areas. As we passed through the town of Ihosy he unexpectedly announced that his dad was passing through as well, so we stopped briefly to say hello!
Our lodge near Isalo was a lovely spot with dramatic boulders and horses at pasture
The landscape took a very different turn as we approached Isalo and reached a broad, warm plateau of scrub
We began our hike in the area where the plateau met the upper edges of deserty-looking canyons
Here is one of the unique — and poisonous — plants growing in the park here.
Speaking of poison, this sinister little fellow is a scorpion, and that white tip on the far right is the poisonous part
This is a closeup of some kind of indigenous caterpillar getting ready to build a cocoon and become a beautiful moth
I bet you can’t even distinguish the weird, long, stick-shaped insect hiding out in the center of this pic. Don’t know how our guide ever spotted him.
On the first day of hiking in Isalo National Park we found this stunning little oasis
Jim decides that water is just too tempting
Jim takes the plunge. I jumped in as well but only lasted about 60 seconds in this frigid water. But the northern Minnesotan stayed in plenty long enough for a good pic.
A native species of aloe with bright orange flowers
More weird insects
And surely you didn’t think we’d get through a hiking day without a lemur? Here we came across a new variety we haven’t seen. He might have been called a white lemur, but I wouldn’t swear by it.
Our first day of hiking was a long one, including a “picnic” lunch in the forest. We were not quite expecting the lavish spread they put on for us in a little clearing, with lemurs watching from all sides. This is just the salad we started with, and it had the most amazing dressing.Jim was very proud that little bottle of wine he’d snagged on the flight to Madagascar. It somehow felt appropriate to have wine on the hike in this former French colony.
And then they somehow whipped up these amazing zebu brochettes and a heaping plate of sautéed veggies
At lunch we were surrounded by ring-tailed lemurs, mostly chasing each other and running around in the trees. This guy checked us out pretty closely.
Here we are on the second hiking day, exploring the Canyon des Makis. At the bottom of narrow walls, 1,000 feet deep, is a little green paradise of rocks, flowing water, and lush exotic greenery.
Looking up through the deep canyon walls
There’s me making my way through the Canyon des Makis, followed by our guide
On the way out of the park we came across a very serious rum making operation