#31 Isalo

The Isalo national park is located in central-south Madagascar, between the cities of Fianarantsoa and Toliara (Tulear), and north of the Zombitse- Vohibasia national park. The Park encompasses 86.647 Ha. The altitude is 514-1268 m. It is situated across the Isalo massif, which rises hundreds of meters above the savanna, and consists of an eroded sandstone and granite plateau with rock formations and caves.

The eastern side forms a very steep 450 m high wall that is penetrated by narrow canyons and gorges with streams and small ponds. The vegetation consists of humid plants in the canyons, and dry scrubland and woodland on the plateau.

Some target species are: Verreaux’s sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi), Ring-tailed lemur (lemur catta), Coquerel’s dwarf lemur (Mirza coquereli), Sooty falcon (Falco concolor), Benson’s rock thrush (Monticola bensoni), Mahafaly big-eyed snake (Mimophis mahafaliensis mahafaliensis), Madagascar dotted iguana (Oplurus quadrimaculatus), Stumpf-tail leaf chameleon (Brookesia perarmata), Humbert’s rosewood (Dalbergia humbertii), True elephant foot (Pachypodium gracilius),Isalo feather palm (Dipsis isaloensis), Monotes madagascariensis, a tree with a reddish corky-dotted trunk.

The nearest hotel accomodation is near the entrance and there is a wide choice at the adjacent village of Ranohira.

ROCK LODGE *****

Situated within the beautiful Isalo scenery with a natural swimmingpool nearby. There are 60 luxury stone bungalows with nice decoration, including a jacuzzi.

LE JARDIN DU ROY *****

Situated in a beautiful landscape and with a stunning view on Isalo. There are 40 rooms, a restaurant, and a nice swimmingpool. Horseriding is possible.

SATRANA LODGE ****

Situated along the Rn 7 from Fianarantsoa to toliara (Tulear)and with a beautiful panorama on the sandstone rocks of Isalo. There are 30 safari tents with a bathroom and comfortable chairs. A restaurant and swimmingpool are available.

RELAIS DE LA REINE****

Situated further away from the entrance of the park in the vicinity of a horseriding school. There are 30 bungalows, a restaurant and a swimmingpool.

HOTEL ISALO RANCH ***

Situated near the park and with a beautiful view on the sand stone rocks. There are 24 comfortable rooms, a restaurant and a large swimmingpool.

H1 HOTEL ***

Situated near the park in a large garden. There are 24 bungalows, a restaurant and a large swimmingpool.

LES RÊNE DE L’ISALO ***

Situated in an area with other hotels and the possibility to use shared facilities, Spa, horseriding, restaurants, swimmingpools. There are 7 bungalows.

ETOILES D’ISALO **

Situated near the entrance of the park. There are 32 Simple bungalows with a bathroom. A restaurant and a small swimmingpool are available.

The entrance of Isalo is north of Ranohira, along the Rn 7 from Fianarantsoa to Toliara (Tulear), 70 km south of Fianarantsoa.

Notes: The best months to visit are September and October, and the nights between June and August can be chilly.

#32 Zombitse Vohibasia

The Zombitse Vohibasia national park is located in south-west Madagascar, 20/50 km north-east of the village of Sakaraha, and 90 km to the west of the Isalo national park. The park encompasses 36.300 Ha. The altitude is 485-825 m. The annual rainfall is 750 mm. It is a relatively flat sandy and eroded limestone plateau, and includes 3 parts, the Zombitse forest, the Isoky-Vohimena area, and the Vohibasia forest, and includes parts of the Onilahy and Mangoky rivers.

The vegetation consists of dry scrubland (spiny thicket), woodland, dry decidious forest, river vegetation and savanna.

Some target species are: Verreaux’s sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi), Rufous brown lemur (Eulemur rufus), Ring-tailed lemur (lemur catta), Hubbard’s sportive lemur (Lepilemur hubbardi), White-breasted mesite (Mesitornis variegata), Appert’s greenbul (Phyllastrephus apperti), which occurrs only here, Spider tortoise (Pyxis arachnoides), Dumeril’s ground boa (Acrantophis dumerili), Spiny desert rhinoceros chameleon (Furcifer antimena), Banded day gecko (Phelsuma standingi), the small tree Operculicarya hirsutissima with its tiny leaflets, the rare liana Odosicyos bosseri with enormous tubers, and the Spiny bottle tree Pachypodium menabeum.

The nearest basic hotel accomodation is in the village of Sakaraha. The entrance is along the Rn 7 between Ilakaka and Sakaraha, about 50 km north of Sakaraha.

#33 Berenty

The Berenty private reserve is located in the Androy region of south-east Madagascar, north-west of the village of Amboasary, and south of the city of Tolanaro (Fort Dauphin). The reserve encompasses 265 Ha along the banks of the MandrareRiver. The altitude is about 157 m. The annual rainfall is 300-900 mm. The vegetation consists of very dry scrubland, woodland, dry deciduous forest and some river vegetation.

Some target species are: Verreaux’s sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi), White-footed sportive lemur (Lepilemur leucopus), Greyish-red mouse lemur (Microcebus griseorufus), Greater hedgehoc tenrec (Setifer setosus), Humblot’s heron (Ardea humbloti), Giant coua (Coua gigas), White-browed hawk-owl (Ninox superciliaris), Radiated tortoise (Geochelone radiata), Brown banded treesnake (Stenophis pseudogranuliceps), Warty chameleon (Furcifer verrucosus), the critically endangered Aloe suzannae, Madagascar desert broom (Cadaba virgata), Zigzag tree (Decarya madagascariensis), and the endangered tree Hilsenbergia apetala.

There is hotel accomodation in the reserve and a wide choice in the city of Tolanaro (Fort Dauphin). The entrance is located 80 km west of Tolanaro, along the road to Ifotaka, 14 km north-west of Amboasary.

Interesting things in the Berenty area: the reptile house, the Antandroy museum and village.

#34 Andohahela

The Andohahela national park is located in south-east Madagascar, near the city of Tolanaro (Fort Dauphin). The park encompasses 76.020 Ha. It is divided into 3 separated parts:

Part I encompasses the east flank of the Anosy mountainrange range. The altitude is 90-1972 m. The annual rainfall is 1500-2000 mm. The vegetation consists of humid forest and somewhat humid scrubland in the highest areas.

Some target species are: Eastern woolly lemur (Avahi laniger), Milne-edward’s sifaka (Propithecus edwardsi), Madagascar serpent eagle (Eutriorchis astur), Red-tailed newtonia (Newtonia fanovanae), Madagascar pond-heron (Ardeola idae), Capuron’s chameleon (Calumma capuroni), the day gecko Phelsuma antanosy, Giant girdled lizard (Zonosaurus maximus), Bruna’s Madagascan stream frog (Mantidactylus brunae), Harald meier’s mantella (Mantella haraldmeieri), Andohahela ferntree (Cyathea andohahelensis), McDonald’s palm (Dypsis mcdonaldiana), Malcomber palm (Dypsis malcomberi), Andohahela dwarf palm (Dypsis tenuissima), and Kroc’s majestic palm (ravenea krociana).

Part II encompasses a calcareous plateau with hhills. The altitude is 120-1006 m ( at the Vohidagoro peak). The annual rainfall is 600-700 mm. The vegetation consists of dry and very dry scrubland (spiny thicket).

Some target species are: Ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta), Crested coua (Coua cristata pyropyga), Guenther’s tree snake (Stenophis guentheri), Oustalet’s chameleon (Furcifer oustaletii), the small tree Commiphora humbertii with its swollen stem, the spiny column-like tree Alluaudia ascendens, the Madagascan cotillo (Alluaudia procera), and the endangered Euphorbia hedyotoides with a tuberous clump of spineless liquid-containing twigs.

Part III, known as the Ranopiso transition zone, encompasses a plateau with hills and mountaneous areas across the western side of the Anosyennes mountains, near the Taratantsa river. The altitude is 200-600 m. The annual rainfall is 600-800 mm. The vegetation consists of dry deciduous woodland and forest.

Some target species are: Verreaux’s sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi), Southern bamboo lemur (Hapalemur meridionalis), Southern fat-tailed dwarf lemur (Cheirogaleus adipicaudatus), Broad-striped mongoose (Galidictis fasciata), Scaly ground-roller (Geobiastes squamigerus), the primitive mute Angel’s frog (Boehmantis microtympanum), Malagasy poison frog (Mantella madagascariensis), Coral tree (Brachylaena microphylla), the Operculicarya decaryi with its swollen trunk that is used to make a dug-out coffin, and the Triangle palm (Dypsis decaryi).

The nearest hotel accomodation is in Tolanaro (Fort Dauphin). The entrance of part I is near the village of Malio. The entrance of part II is near the villages of Hazofotsy and Mangatsiaka, 52 km from the town of Ambovombe. The entrance of part III is near the village of Tsimehaly, 40 km north of Tolanaro.

Notes: Independent visitors to parts I and II are advised to rent a four-wheel drive car in Tolanaro and bring their own tent, food and drinks. One-day visits to parts I and II are not recommended because of long driving and walking.

Interesting things in the Andohahela area: tombes of the Antanosy tribe, the Andohahela Interpretation Centre, the Arboretum.

#35 BezaHA Mahafaly

The Bezaha Mahafaly special reserve is located in south-west Madagascar, south-east of the city of Toliara (Tulear) and north-east of the town of Betioky. The reserve encompasses 620 Ha across the limestone Mahafaly plateau near the Onilahy, Linta, Menarandra and Sakamena rivers.

The reserve has 2 separated (12 km distance) parts, although the road to the first part passes the second part.

Part I encompasses about 100 Ha near a small short-lived river. The altitude is about 200 m. The annual rainfall is about 750 mm. The vegetation consists of dry deciduous forest.

Part II encompasses 520 Ha. The altitude is about 200 m. The annual rainfal is about 300 mm. The vegetation consists of very dry scrubland (spiny thicket) with succulents.

Some target species are: Verreaux’s sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi), Ring-tailed lemur (lemur catta), Petter’s sportive lemur (Lepilemur petteri), Western ring-tailed mongoose (Galidia elegans occidentalis), Madagascar straw-colored fruit bat (Eidolon dupreanum), Madagascar sparrowhawk (Accipiter madagascariensis), Red-capped coua (Coua ruficeps), Giant coua (Coua gigas), Malagasy hoopoe (Upupa epops marginata), Dumeril’s boa (Acrantophis dumerili), Banded day gecko (Phelsuma standingi), Leaf-tailed gecko (Uroplatus malahelo), Operculicarya Decaryi, its swollen trunk is used to make a dug-out coffin, Madagascar rubbervine (Cryptostegia grandiflora), felt plant (Kalanchoe beharensis), the stem succulent Stapelianthus decaryi with its large red flowers, Silver dollar plant (Xerosicyos danguyi), and Zigzag tree (Decarya madagascariensis).

The nearest hotel accomodation is in Betioky, but there are camping facilities in the reserve.

The entrance is located 35 km north-east of Betioky, which takes about 2 hours by four-wheel drive car.

#36 Tsimanampetsotsa

The Tsimanampetsotsa national park is located in south-west Madagascar, only a few km from the coast. The park has 3 separated parts:

Part I around the lake Tsimanampetsotsa.

Part II near Itampolo at 95 km distance.

Part III near Abehaitsy.

The total area encompasses 22.000 Ha. The landscape is dominated by limestone rock formations, cliffs, and caves with underground fresh water streams around the about 15 by 3 km long shallow soda-containing lake Tsimanampetsotsa. The altitude is 38-114 m. The annual rainfall is about 500 mm.

The vegetation consists of dry and very dry scrubland with succulents, and woodland (spiny ticket).

Some target species are: Ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta), White-footed sportive lemur (Lepilemur leucopus), Greyish-red mouse lemur (Microcebus griseorufus), Giant striped mongoose (Galidictis grandidieri), Greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber), Lesser flamingo (Phoenicopterus minor), Western greater vasa parrot (Coracopsis vasa drouardi), Red-shouldered vanga (Calicalicus rufocarpalis), Peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus), Radiated tortoise (Geochelone radiata), Spider tortoise (Pyxis arachnoides), Mahafaly big-eyed snake (Mimophis mahafalensis), Madagascar dotted iguana (Oplurus quadrimaculatus), Western coastal burrowing frog (Dyscophus insularis), Blind goby (Typhleotris pauliani), and Cave sleeper goby (Typhleotris madagascariensis), Giant strengling fig (Ficus megapoda), Madagascar rubbervine (Cryptostegia grandiflora), and Spiny bottle tree (Pachypodium geayi).

There are camping facilities in the park and the nearest basic hotel accomodation is along the beech at the villages of Ambola and Beheloka. The official office for tickets and guides is in the town of Evietsy, about 15 km from the lake.

Interesting things in the Tsimanampetsotsa area: The soda lake, the petrified wood, the Mitoho cave with blind fish.

#37 Tsitongambarika

The Tsitongambarika special reserve is located in south-east Madagascar, 9 km north of the city of Tolanaro (Fort Dauphin). The area encompasses 60.000 Ha. The altitude is 100-675 m with the peak being Ivohibe (not to be mistaken with the reserve Pig d’Ivohibe). It consists of hills and streams and has the Manampanihy river in the west.

The vegetation is variable, rainforest and mountaneous woodland, saavanna and degraded areas, as well as dry scrubland with succulents.

Some target species are: the critically endangered Madame Fleurette’s sportive lemur (Lepilemur fleuretae), Southern woolly lemur (Avahi meridionalis), Collared brown lemur (Eulemur collaris), Anosy mouse lemur (Microcebus tanosi), Aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis), Brown mesite (Mesitornis unicolor), Madagascar blue pigeon (Alectroenas madagascariensis), Madagascar wood rail (Mentocrex kioloides), Nelicourvi weaver (Ploceus nelicourvi), Nuthatch vanga (Hypositta corallirostris), Red-fronted coua (Coua reynaudii), The day gecko Phelsuma modesta, the treefrog boophis rufioculis, the reedfrog Heterixalus boettgeri, Vences’ river crab (Hydrothelphusa vencesi), Streptocarpus peltatus, and the rare feather palm Dypsis lilacina.

There is hotel accomodation in Tolanaro (Fort Dauphin). The reserve can be reached by four-wheel drive car from Tolanaro to the north, the direction of St. Luce.

#38 Cap Sainte Marie

The Cap Sainte Marie special nature reserve is located in the extreme South of the island, where the Mozambique channel and the Indian Ocean meet. The reserve encompasses 17.500 Ha. The altitude is 0-199 m. The annual rainfall is about 350 mm. It consists of relatively flat calcareous rock formations, clifs above the ocean, caves, and sheltered beeches.

The vegetation consists of very dry scrubland (sspiny thicket).

Some target species are: Ring-tailed lemur (lemur catta, Running coua (Coua cursor), Giant coua (Coua gigas), Radiated tortoise (Astrochelys radiata), Spider tortoise (Pyxis arachnoides), Dumeril ground boa (Acrantophis dumerili), Grandidier’s Fish-scaled gecko (Geckolepis typica), Operculicarya decaryi, its swollen trunk is used to make a dug-out coffin, the medicinal Madagascar periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus), Silver dollar plant (Xerosicyos danguyi), Tree aloe (Aloe vaotsanda), and the dwarf succulents of the windy terrace above the sea, e.g. Euphorbia cap-saintemariensis and Aloe milloti.

There are very basic camping facilities in the reserve and visitors should bfring their own equipment, food and drinks. The entrance is situated 63 km south of Tsiombe. Reaching the park from Tolanaro may take 2 days.

Interesting things in de area: The remains of giant eggs from the extinct Elephant bird (Aepyornis maximus).

Notes: The heavy wind forced the plants on the cape into a unique bonzai-like growing pattern. Unfortunately large areas of the reserve are nowadays covered by exotic Opuntia cacti from Mexico.