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Lookout, Isalo National Park, Madagascar, CJ

Isalo

A combination of sandstone rocks, cut by deep canyons and eroded into strange shapes, and unique flora and fauna make this quite unlike any other park in Madagascar – and one of its most striking.

The stark and arid landscape begs to be explored on foot. Its dry scenery is softened by rich vegetation, concentrated around small streams which wind through canyons – home to a surprising amount of wildlife.

Isalo Park Landscape, Madagascar
Isalo, Madagascar

A little more about Isalo

The Isalo massif provides a spectacular view of a huge sandstone mountainous backdrop and is best visited during colourful sunrise and sunsets for spectacular photography. The area is sacred to the local Bara tribe, who have used the natural caves in the canyon walls as burial sites for hundreds of years, so tread carefully.
Alternatively, visit the little known Cascade des Nymphes – a deep pool in the shadow of black cliffs, covered in ferns, where you can find the rare Madagascar hoopoe.

Experiences

Ancient Burial Caves

Visit ancient Bara burial caves set in canyon walls in Isalo National Park.

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Hiking in Isalo

Experience superb hiking trails in remote valleys and canyons.

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Elephant’s Foot

Discover rare and unusual plants species including the endemic elephant’s foot.

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Isalo National Park

Discover Isalo’s dramatic and barren sandstone landscapes, dotted with small pools.

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Accommodation

Below is some of the wonderful accommodation to include on your journey.

Relais De La Reine £££££

  • Madagascar
  • Safari and Wildlife Lodge

The spectacular Relais De La Reine is one of a handful of beautifully designed lodges in the Isalo area, seeming to grow out of the spectacular rocky landscapes. Sitting amongst the canyons in lush gardens and dramatically lit paths feel like the grounds of a medieval castle. Spacious and cleverly designed stone bungalows take full advantage of the spectacular and ever-changing rocky skyline and the main bar and dining area have a genuine buzz, with the owners’ brilliant hospitality adding to the atmosphere. Take a dip in the pool after a day trekking in the area, or enjoy a sunset horseback safari from the lodges very own stables.

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Jardin du Roy £££££

  • Madagascar
  • Safari and Wildlife Lodge

A favourite haunt of the sapphire traders in the area, who add glamour to what is already a very stylish place to watch the ever-changing colour of the dramatic landscapes of Isalo. Seeming to grow out of the surrounding sandstone, this family-run lodge offers stylish bungalows within four “houses” dotted around the garden, filled with locally designed rosewood furniture and expansive verandas from which to soak up the view. When not out exploring the park, the large, rock side pool offers the perfect place to cool down as the rocky landscape soaks up the sun. The exposed brickwork of the lively bar and restaurant are centred around a huge fireplace, the walls lined with antique photographs under an imposing chandelier, where you can enjoy a drink looking out across one of the country’s most dramatic skylines.

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Isalo Rock Lodge £££££

  • Madagascar
  • Safari and Wildlife Lodge

Isalo Rock Lodge is without a doubt, the most luxurious property in the area, in the most traditional sense. All of the 60 rooms take full advantage of the areas spectacular sandscapes with the lodge seeming to grow out of the ground, especially around the pool area. The rooms are large and minimalist, but the ochre-coloured walls reflect the landscape and feel natural, offering plenty of space. This contemporary feel flows throughout the entire lodge, from the sleek and modern bar areas, the exclusive fine dining and clever use of coloured lights at night.

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Meet our experts

A passion for travel runs right through every one of our experts - meaning they're always ready with first-hand insight about their specialist countries.

Illona Cross

Born in a small South African town, I have always followed my passion for nature and discovery. After studying Nature Conservation in Pretoria, I was one of the first women to complete a very tough cadetship in the Natal Parks Board. It was here where I cut my teeth in African wildlife management. My desire to see more led me to work as a guide for AndBeyond, first in South Africa, then in Tanzania as the company expanded. Here, I lived and worked in the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro, guiding and running safari camps.

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  • 01285 601 784

Chris Johnston

Having trekked through rainforests, searched for ancient tombs and been mistaken for a priest, Chris continues to travel the length and breadth of this beautiful, baffling country. Whilst many people consider Madagascar a wildlife destination, he finds the culture and landscapes just as captivating.

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  • 01285 601 784

Need Inspiration?
Browse our Madagascar holiday ideas.

Our Madagascar experts have created and curated these holiday ideas to get you started. Take the time to search through them and find something to spark ideas for a unique adventure.

Why Choose Steppes?

These may be uncertain times but they are, without a doubt, still full of opportunity to discover the extraordinary safely. Through knowledge and expertise, we can connect you to those destinations embracing travellers with the added confidence of flexible booking and decades of insight.

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