Overview – Isalo NP

Philip Briggs
Expert
By Philip Briggs

Philip is a renowned Africa expert and author of many guidebooks to African destinations, including the Insight guide to Madagascar.

Philip is a renowned Africa expert and author of the Insight Guide to Madagascar.

Philip is the author of the Insight Guide to Madagascar.

Isalo National Park (Parc National de l’Isalo) protects a group of mountains with spectacular sandstone formations rising up from arid grassy plains. This is prime hiking country with a range of trails available to suit different interests and abilities. Several lemur species can be found, and bird-watchers will enjoy checking off some dry country specials.

Best Time to Go May to October (Cooler, sunny days)
High Season July, August and December (The park is busy)
Size 866km² / 334mi²
Altitude 392-1,199m / 1,286-3,934ft

Pros & Cons

  • Dramatic sandstone formations and a photogenic environment
  • Many hiking trails to choose from
  • Rare desert fauna
  • Good accommodation options on the park border and in nearby village
  • The heat can be a challenge on longer hikes
  • The park is popular and some trails get very busy

Isalo NP Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

Wildlife

Isalo is not a prime wildlife-viewing destination. There are only three lemur species active in the day on record, but two of them are particularly charismatic: the ring-tailed lemur and the Verreaux's sifaka, known for its dance-like movement when running on the ground. The lemurs can mostly be found in the canyons, such as Maki Canyon and Rat Canyon.

Scenery

The park is a photographer’s dream. The evening light usually plays its magic over the sandstone formations eroded into amazing rockscapes, canyons and gorges. A popular scenic highlight is ‘la fenêtre de l’Isalo’ (the Isalo window). This is a natural window sculpted out of the rocks, letting through the setting sun while capturing the surrounding landscape with its balancing boulders and jagged peaks.

Weather & Climate

Isalo has a dry tropical climate. Annual rainfall figures are low, but there is a Wet season from November to April. The middle of this, December to February, is very hot and humid. The coolest months are June to August with an average daytime temperature of 26°C/79°F. During this period, nights are quite cold with the lowest average of 11°C/52°F being in July.

Best Time to Visit

Isalo can be visited throughout the year. Most people will however prefer the Dry season months, from May to October, when hiking conditions are perfect. The magnificent scenery of the park is enhanced by beautiful light. In the Dry season it is always sunny and bright, and most days start and finish with a photogenic sunrise and sunset.

Want to Visit Isalo NP?

Isalo NP Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
Most Helpful Expert Review
The Grand Canyon of Madagascar
4/5

Rising from the arid, yellow plains of southern Madagascar, Isalo is one of Madagascar’s most dramatic sights and most popular parks. The red rock escarpments cut through with canyons are filled with dense forest-like vegetation. In...

Latest User Review
Alan  –  
United Kingdom UK
Reviewed: Feb 1, 2020
Day walk through Isalo National Park
4/5

Spent a full day walking through the park, including a visit to the Piscine Naturelle and through canyon. Very pleasant any enjoyable, though very hot and with not a lot of shade. With a good guide, as we had, we saw a good amount of...

Full Review