Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Madagascar Day 14 - Isalo National Park

The sunny and warm weather continued today so the plan was to get as early a start as possible.  But, the earliest they would serve breakfast was 7AM unfortunately.

The drive to Isalo was about an hour but that included a stop to meet our local guide and buy the tickets.  It was here that we spotted a ring-tailed lemur tied up at a building next to the entrance building.  That was pretty sad to see.  The whole area around the entrance to Isalo was way to touristy with people everywhere selling stuff or begging for handouts.

This was definitely not a good start to the day.

Our local guide was named Showy and he showed us a few trail choices that we could make once we were in the park:
Isalo Park Sign

Once we actually got into the park (it's another 15 minute drive from the entrance to the parking lot) we ended up making a 4 hour loop hike through the canyon, up on the ridge for a scenic view and then back down into the canyon.

Showy shared with us that the Bara people that live in the area have multiple wives.  Usually, it's 4 wives and the men spend a week with each one at different houses.  What a perfect arrangement I thought. Maybe I should consider the area for retirement.

He also mentioned that a man is judged by the # of zebu he owns.  "No zebu, no wife" he said.  Well, since I wasn't really interested in keeping zebu I guess retirement in Isalo is out.

Showy was our only local guide that actually shared information about the park and the local people so it was nice to get some insights into the local culture.

Isalo is a very pretty park and this hike was quite nice.

Isalo Rice Patties

Isalo Hike

We saw some cool insects on this hike including a couple walking sticks and these guys.

Adult flatid leaf bugs:
Flatid Leaf Bugs - Adults

Flated leaf bug nymphs:
Flatid Leaf Bugs - Nymphs

We also had a sighting of a Madagascar Button Quail with chicks:
Madagascar Buttonquail with Chicks

The guides herded these birds a bit too much and too long for my liking so I ended up walking away and getting a decent shot of a Madagascar Bulbul:
Madagascar Bulbul

As I mentioned before, the hike was very pretty.  Here is just a bit of the scenery we encountered on our way through the canyon.

Isalo Hike

Dead end...

Isalo does have lemurs.  In fact, it's another place to see ring-tailed lemurs and used to be a good place to see the Verreaux’s Sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi).  However we were told that there was a fire a few years ago that either killed or scared away all the sifakas except for one.  That one hangs out with a troop of ring-tails and we did manage to see it.  Sad to think it could be the last one in the park though:
Last Verreaux's Sifaka in Isalo?

Once we climbed up out of the canyon the scenery got better and better.

Time to head up

Don't look down though:
Don't look down...


It was here that I fell in love with this mini baobab plant.  It was so cool:
Mini Baobab

We got to the top and shared a quick break with a few other hikers but then headed off in the other direction.  Here's a look at the trail we would be taking on the way down:
Isalo Vista

Back in the canyon we ended up catching up to a lot of people so we just took our time and enjoyed the scenery.

Isalo Hike

Madagascar Coucal:
Madagascar Coucal

There is a camp in the park where the locals serve lunch.  It costs 30K each and was pretty bad.  We had the typical dry, no meat chicken so I filled up on rice and food that we brought with us.   The other problem with this camp is that they let the ring-tailed lemurs hang out and steal people's food off the tables which isn't good.  Eventually, it's the wildlife that pays the price for close human contact.

The lemurs that weren't stealing food just hung out around us:

Mass Grooming

There were some birds hanging out in the trees around the camp and I managed to finally get some good shots of some iconic birds.

Madagascar Paradise Flycatcher:
Madagascar Paradise Flycatcher

Madagascar Hoopoe:
Madagascar Hoopoe

Feeding time:
Hoopoe Feeding Time

Back at the lodge we walked the grounds before dinner but didn't find anything of interest. We did venture out in the woods behind the lodge and planned to come back after dinner.

Dinner was once again pretty good but dessert was the highlight.  They had something called "Hot and Cold of Chocolate" on the menu so I ordered it and it was exactly as described.  Chocolate lava cake with chocolate ice cream.  Yummy!

With some extra sugar providing the energy, we headed back into the woods.  Earlier in the day Bruno said that the forest was empty around the lodge.  But, we lucked out when Karen spotted this Scops Owl:
Madagascar Scops Owl

I also spotted a rodent of some king but it disappeared before we could get any decent looks at it.  But, finding the owl was really fun and between that and all the chocolate I had, I felt pretty good as we headed back to our room for the night.

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