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Madagascar National Parks

Terrestrial National Park
Baie de Baly
Kirindy Mitea
Mananara Nord
Mantadia Andasibe
Midongy Befotaka
Montagne d'Ambre
Tsingy de Namoroka
Zombitse Vohibasia

Marine national Park
Mananara Nord

Complete Natural Reserve

Special Reserve
Andasibe Analamazaotra
Anjanaharibe Sud
Beza Mahafaly
Cap Sainte Marie
Montagne et Forêt d’Ambre
Tampoketsa Analamaintso

News of Isalo protected area

Isalo is the park of the Big South. This massive uniforme of the Jurassic era is the most visited park of Madagascar. Kingdom of Queen of the Isalo, cradle of a particular wild nature and an exceptional landscape, the lovers of the big escapes will be seduced by this park. And a sunset seen through the window of the Isalo is a post card that deserves the detour. GPS: 22°22’ - 22°40’South latitude and 45°11’ -45°23’ East longitude

The Isalo is part of the Commune of Ranohira, in the region of the Ihorombe. It is 279 Km in the South of Fianarantsoa. The park, furrowed of rivers and their affluents, spreads over 81 540 ha. This massive ruiniforme is a plateau of continental sandstone dating from the Jurassic.Very much eroded, only the parceled witnessed by the sandy valleys and the canyons: a really exceptional show.

Download the brochure

Brochure Isalo.pdf

The fauna

The animals of the Isalo are typical of the climate with vegetation and the geomorphology of the park. These are for a very strong majority of the endemic species. 77 species of birds live in Isalo among which the Benson rock-thrush Pseudocossyphus bensoni, an endemic species of Madagascar that is well protected. We can also find 14 species of nocturnal lemurs, 8 of which are introduced and seven endemic to Madagascar. Reptilian, amphibian, carnivores, insectivorous and gnawing complete the list.

The best fauna of Isalo

1. The Boophis albilabris occidentalis, an endemic frog of the Isalo and the park of cascade of the nymphs in rainy season .

2. The Boa of Dumeril, of its scientific name: Acrantophis dumerili. This snake only lives in the South and the South West of Madagascar, and unusually in Andranolava, not far from Mahajanga. In the Isalo, you will find this boa in the
Namaza circuit in the season of rain.

3. The Benson rock-thrush Pseudocossyphus bensoni. It is a particularly protected endemic bird.

4. The Angogo or knob-billed duck, known by the scientists as Sarkidiornis melanotos.

5. the Ankohoala or Madagascar crested ibis. Its scientific name is Lophotibis cristata.

6. The red frog or Scaphiophryne gottlebei. It is endemic to the Isalo.
    The Varika, an endemic lemur known under this scientific name.

The flora

The national park of Isalo counts more than 400 floristic species. Many of them are endemic to Madagascar like the Pachypodium rosulatum, family of the Apocynaceaes, the Catharantus ovalis that is a medicinal plant that isn’t found anywhere else in the world but in the Ihorombe and on the plain of the Zomandao The savanna of the Isalo is colonized by typical palms of this region: the Bismarkia nobilis"Satrana" that resists fire.

The best of the Isalo Flora

1. The Vontaka or Pachypodium rosulatum of the family of the Apocynaceaes. Endemic to Madagascar, the Vontaka lives on the rocks of the circuit of the natural Swimming pool all year round.

2. The aloe isaloensis of the family of the Aloaceaes is a Malagasy endemic aloe. It grows on the rocks of the natural swimming pool, all year round.

3. The Bismarkia nobilis, of its Malagasy name Satrana. It is a  typical palm of the Isalo that has the particularity to resist fire. Its branches are used by the villagers in sparterie, industry of the esparto, a tough plant fiber.


Travel shrewd...

For this stay in the Big South, don't forget your  mountain shoes and your walking shoes, your solar cream and a product against the bugs. Between November and April, take  a raincoat in your luggages.  The nights at the Isalo are cool, bring hot clothes. If you intend to camp, bring your  camping facilities and your provisions for the bivouac.  The nearest bank is in Ihosy. Isalo is covered by the telephone networks of Airtel and Orange.

The history of the park

The National Park of Isalo was created in 1962 and has been managed by the Madagascar National Park since 1997 thanks to the Environmental Program II. The park is known for its whole ecology, its typical geomorphology of the South, its adapted" vegetation" that feeds and shelter a fauna accustomed to the dry and arid climate. But it is also famous to be a historic and archaeological site and one of the great witnesses of the global evolutions: this continental plate shows the unity of Madagascar with Africa, it has been 2000 millions of years! Since centuries, the Baras has been living in the region of  Isalo, they live with raising especially the zebu as well as agriculture.

A park furrowed of rivers

On both sides of the Isalo small and big rivers flow. From the North to the South, the Menamaty, affluent of the Mangoky stream, entails its own affluents: the Marandra, the Tsiombivoly, the Andriamanero, the Andranonkova, the Namaza and the Ianakandrarezo. In the West the affluents of the Malio river gush that are the Sambay, the Amboloando, the Ankademoky, the Sakamalio, the Hoanga, the Vohibasia, the Andranomena, the Sambalahitsara and the Analakira. this is how the Isalo becomes the tank of water of a big part of its region. Life and the daily needs of the neighboring villages depend on the park.

A nature that can adjust

The massive ruiniforme of the Isalo is a plateau of continental sandstone dating from the Jurassic. Here, the rock has a very variable  aspect, shape and  composition . The Park is partly an ecosystem : massif ruiniforme of continental sandstone, it has a cock-of-the-rock endemic vegetation  made of aloe, of Euphorbes, of Pachypodes and Kalanchoe… The fauna of the Isalo is typical of this exceptional habitat, they are of the reptiles of rocks the big majority of which is endemic. Here, the nature is adapted to the dry climate.

The altitude varies from 514 m to 1268 m, some canyons can reach 200 m of depth. The  dry tropical climate, gives a little hot  temperature with an average of 17° C in June and 25° C in February.

The microprojects of Isalo

Itinerary :

The road toward Isalo is in very good state and the journey, though far can't be felt. 700 km separates Antananarivo and Isalo, that is15hours of road. The regular flights also assure the servicing.

Indications :

Road :

- If you leave from Antananarivo, take the National Road N°7 (toward Toliary) until Ranohira, that is the door of the Isalo. It is a tarred road  701 that in average takes 15hours to browse.

- If you leave from Toliary toward Ranohira, you have 4h of road ahead of you, which is 250 Km in a perfect state all year round.

By Taxi-brousse :

- From Antananarivo :
Bus Station: Fasan'ny Karana at the level of the third dam road between Ankadimbahoaka and Anosizato, every day

- From Fianarantsoa
Bus Station : Antsimo, every day

- From Toliary
Bus station : Sanfily, every day

By Plane :

The Air Madagascar company  assures  the regular flights between Antananarivo and Toliary. From Toliary, join the park by car that's 4 hours for 250 Km.
The flights Antananarivo - Fianarantsoas are irregular. From Fianarantsoa, to reach the park by car that's 4 hours for 269 Km

Circuit name Specifications Tariffs
The circuit of the natural swimming pool Distance : 3 km by car, from Ranohira to the parking of Mangily / 3 km of trekking

The natural swimming pool especially attracts the visitors: it is an unexpected oasis in the middle of the rocks, where flows a tepid water cascade. You will browse the cliffs, the plain of Tapia, a tree in the multiple uses, the big savannas and the massif eroded in strange shapes. The visit of the Bara burials and Sakalava makes the mystical key of the circuit. This circuit is also a slide show in live of the " adapted" plants throughthe geological transformation of the Isalo. In the forest of Mangily, have also a look at the Lemur Catta.
- Guidance for 4 visitors maximum :
- By car: Ar 16.000
- On foot: Ar 20.000


Circuit name Specifications Tariffs
The circuit of the cascade of the Nymphs and the black and blue swimming pool Distance : 4 km by car, following a trekking of 2,8km within 3h30mn

It is an EASY CIRCUIT until the area of camping, however the ascent of the river, from the area of camping to the cascade or to the black Swimming pool, can be a little arduous. The trail is equipped with rails, for your safety. You are going to reach the deep gorge until the blue swimming pool or the black swimming pool, to climb the cascades where nest the numerous rare birds, the butterflies and the lizards. And at random of your peregrination, meet the lemurs! The heights offer an astonishing panoramic view of the canyon that is worth of gold. But the privilege of this circuit is the soothing bathing that you are going to offer yourself at the Cascade of the Nymphs!
- Guidance of the cascade of the Nymphs for 4 people maximum :
- By car: Ar 16.000
- On foot:Ar 20.000

- Guidance of the black and blue swimming pool for 4 people maximum :
- By car: Ar 16.000
- On foot:Ar 20.000

Every extra person pays a quarter of the tariff indicated


Circuit name Specifications Tariffs
The circuit of the canyons of the makis and rats: Duration : 2h 30
Distance : 17 km by car following a trekking of 1,7 Km

This circuit associates the wild nature and cultural discovery . It is made of panoramic views on the rice fields, the cliffs incised of open gorge on the canyons of the Maki and Rats and on the big plateau of the Ihorombe. The hike will lead you to the heart of a former royal village. You will visit the surrounding wall of the palace, the royal shower, the tombs of the sovereigns as well as the traditional Bara's tombs . While carrying on up to the lush gorge, you will find numerous colonies of lemurs, the birds, the butterflies and the lizards... The best for the end: to prick a head in the swimming pool at the bottom of the canyon!
- Guidance of the canyon of the makis for 4 people maximum:
- By car: Ar 20.000
- On foot: Ar 24.000

- Guidance of the canyon of the makis and rats for 4 people maximum:
- By car: Ar 24.000
- On foot: Ar 30.000

Every extra person pays a quarter of the tariff indicated


Circuit name Specifications Tariffs
The crest circuit Duration : 2h 30
Distance : 3km by car, 4Km on foot

It is the discovery of the Queen of the Isalo, the Boot, the Wolf and the Tsingy of Isalo… these are the natural geological shapes that make the famous Isalo.
- Guidance :


Circuit name Specifications Tariffs
The Malaso circuit Duration : 4h of road
Distance : 42 km by car, 2 Km on foot

The car will drive you in a botanical site where grows the Pachypodium, Aloe and Kalanchoe... From there, one hour of trekking will make you discover some aspects of the vegetation of the Isalo. You will border the enclosing wall of the south, the Tsihitafototra canyon and will find on your path the Maki. This circuit will direct you toward the Isalo point of view ranch and the Boot of Isalo...

After a stop, the itinerary continues through a geological site: the Tsingy of Isalo in the savanna, the cliff of Ampasimaiky that possesses an area of picnic, the Wolf of Isalo and finally the point of view "Top" 975m of altitude. It is the best place of the park to admire the vast extent of Isalo. 30 Km further, you will be all around Andranovorinkaolo du Lac, a kingdom of the wild ducks. From there, you will cross the savanna of Satrana until the famous Isalo. The day ends, the sun sets: another spectacle begins for you. The Malaso circuit draws its name from the thieves of zebus, that used the natural labyrinth of the Isalo.
- Guidance :


Circuit name Specifications Tariffs
The Antsifotra circuit Duration : 5 hs of road
Distance : 29 km by car/ 5 Km on foot

This circuit will lead you to the heart of a gallery forest where the lemurs dwell. It ends to the foot of a magnificent waterfall.
- Guidance :
- By car : Ar 16.000
- On foot: Ar 20.000


Circuit name Specifications Tariffs
The Anjofo circuit Duration : 5h
Distance : 29 km by car, 5 Km on foot

This circuit borders ombrophile vegetation where you will admire the orchids, the birds, the lemurs. It finishes on a cool note: a superb cascade.
- Guidance :
-By car : Ar 16.000
- On foot: Ar 20.000


Circuit name Specifications Tariffs
The lake circuit towards Isalo Duration : 4h de route
Distance : 20 km by car, 1 Km on foot

This circuit is a crossing of the forests of Tapia, the crock-of-the-rock forests decorated with palms, where some lemurs liv. The race ends at the Green Lake of the Isalo.
- Guidance :
-By car : Ar 16.000
- On foot: Ar 20.000


Circuit name Specifications Tariffs
The Big Tour Duration : 4 days on average
Distance : 120 km on foot or 40 Km by car and 80 Km on foot

It is the big bouquet of the Isalo that compiles all sites, inescapable fauna and flora of the park. Archaeological sites and especially the Underground cave of the Portuguese, dry Forests and humid forests, meeting of birds and diurnal as well as nocturnal lemurs, to finish at the natural swimming pool. The panorama is fabulous and the visit is very enlightened.
Trekking on the combined circuits :

- The circuits of the natural Swimming pool and Cascade of the Nymphs:Ar 32.000 for 4 people maximum

- Canyons of the Maki and Cascade of the Nymphs: Ar 36 000 for 4 people maximum.

- Cascade of the Nymphs - Black and Blue Swimming pool:Ar 24.000 for 4 people maximum.

- Canyons of the makis - Natural Swimming pool and Cascade of the Nymphs:Ar 52.000 for 4 people maximum.

- Every extra person pays a quarter of the tariff


Loop circuit

• "Natural swimming pool and Cascade of the Nymphs:

• "Ar 36 000 by car for 4 people maximum.

• "Ar 56 000 on foot for 4 people maximum.

• "Canyons of the Makis and Cascade of the Nymphs: Ar 40 000 by car, for 4 people maximum

• "Canyons of the Makis and natural Swimming pool: Ar 45 000by car, for 4 people maximum

• "Canyons of the Makis - Natural Swimming pool and Cascade of the Nymphs: Ar 56 000 by car, for 4 people maximum

• "Tariff of guidance: Ar 25 000 / day

Every extra person pays a quarter of the tariff

Carte des circuits ecotouristiques du Parc National Isalo

Carte des circuits ecotouristiques du Parc National Isalo

The welcome office is  3 Km from the East of the Park. The agents of the park will assist you  in the organization of your stay. All payment is done at the unique Ticket desk of the Madagascar National Parks. 70 multilingual guides work in the park of the Isalo. They speak French, English, Italian and German fluently. The Isalo has its center of interpretation: the House of the Isalo that is in Zahavola 9 Km from the village of Ranohira, on the National Road N° 7 toward Toliary. The House of the Isalo shelters a permanent exhibition about the Isalo, its Geology, its fauna, its flora and its history.

Several camping areas and lodging for taking a rest are arranged in the park.
On the the
natural Swimming pool circuit, the camp of Analatapia has got:
- 68 sites of tent
- Tents for two persons
- Tariff: Ar 5 000  / night / person

The Namaza circuit also has its camp, in Namaza:
- 34 sites of tent
- Tents for two persons
Tariff: Ar 5 000 / night / person

Hotels of different categories are established in the park surrounding of Isalo. The rooms can be simple or luxurious, according to the hotel. It is possible to have lodging and blanket at the inhabitant's.

Contacts :

Madagascar National Parks Fianarantsoa
BP 1363 Antsorokavo, près du temple Jesosy Mamonjy

Tél : + (261 20) 75 512 74

Email :

Parc National Isalo
BP. 6 Ranohira – 313 Ihosy
GSM : 032 44 440 75 / 033 13 172 58(standard)
Email :

Tel. : + (261 32) 40 392 04 / +261 34 49 400 99


Isalo is a wonderful land for those that like the adventure and the large spaces. Starting from the easiest  to the hardest, you won't mis the challenges. Trekking, birdwatching, camping and canyoning: you are going to enjoy it. But the park and its surounding offer you as plenty interesting program as possible . Visit the underground cave of Ihosy 90 km from Ranohira. An easy journey on foot or by car.

During one week, to the third quarter, attend the customs of the region as the" Bilo ", ritual of exorcism to heal a patient while getting rid of the bad spirit thaty lives in him or her. The ritual starts with the slaughtering of a zebu, omnipresent animal in the big Malagasy traditions. The "Bilo" lasts seven days, during the third quarter. The funeral rituals that unite all villagers are also celebrated at that time.