Paul Slyer's Photography blog

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Madagascar, A photographer’s dream (Part 2)

Kids on go-cart

Kids on go-cart

Leaving Ranomafana National Park we continued south on Route 7 towards the town of Fianarantsoa.  About 15km before we got there we started seeing hoards of people walking or pushing carts carrying local produce, chickens and ducks to sell at market day in the town.  It was very comical watching 4 boys riding on a go-cart while sitting on bags of rice.  In true Malagasy sense of humour they started showing off, doing tricks and leaning off the side of the cart while flying down a hill at 50km an hour.  After lunch in Fianarantsoa we headed towards our next park called Andringitra National Park.  The road to Andringitra is a 2 hour drive that takes you through beautiful rolling hills covered in rice paddies and tiny villages, but the road is a real dirt track and I would recommend doing it in a 4×4 or a vehicle with a high ground clearance.  

Road

Road to Andringitra National Park

Andringitra is probably the most scenic park I have ever hiked through.  It is subdivided into three ecosystems growing around a huge granite outcrop, which is the second highest mountain in Madagascar at 2,658m above sea level and offers some of the best landscape photography on the island.  The ecosystems are made up of lush tropical forests at the base of the outcrop, Montane mountain forest on the sides and high altitude vegetation on the top.

View from the top of Andringitra

View from the top of Andringitra

Pool by campsite

Pool by campsite

It is a fairly difficult but rewarding hike as you ascend up the mountain alongside two beautiful waterfalls to your first camp at the top of a plateau. The camp is made up of a small wooden hut next to a beautiful pool of crystal clear water where you can have a refreshing swim and cool off.  This hut is normally a sleep over stop before you carry on to Pic Boby which is the name of the highest peak in Andringitra.  The views of the valley below are spectacular.

 

 

Moss with a tiny stream

Moss with a tiny stream

From here you travel back to the plateau camp where you should spend another night before continuing along the top of the plateau through large granite boulders that are covered in islands of moss and lichen with tiny streams of rain water.  You can spend hours exploring the almost lunar landscape before descending down the other side of the plateau giving you a better view of the two waterfalls and the peak that you have just conquered.

If you are interested in landscape photography or are a keen hiker Andringitra National Park is a must and you would be foolish to skip it. Give yourself two nights hiking within the park as you will regret rushing it with just one night.

 

 

 

Two waterfalls

Two waterfalls

The next day we carried on heading south towards Isalo National Park. On our way we came across the most chaotic situation I had experienced on the whole trip. Madagascar always has something interesting to offer regardless of if you are on your way to or in one of the parks.  As far as the eye could see, the road in front of us was full of Zebu (local name for cows) all being herded towards our 4×4 on the main road to Tana.  Every few months herdsmen spend weeks
Zebu Jam

Zebu Jam

taking their Zebu on a few hundred km trek to the capital to sell them in the market.  For the next few hours we where caught up in Zebu jams waiting patiently or pushing our way through hundreds of animals, herd boys and taxis.

 Arriving in the town Ranohira we checked into our hotel for the evening to get some much earned rest before our big hike in Isalo the following morning.  Isalo National Park is made up of a wide variety of terrain including sandstone formations, open grassland, deep canyons in thick forests and a beautiful clear spring water oasis surrounded by palm trees.

We started our walk through landscape that looked similar to the American Grand Canyon with open grassland and huge eroded formations.  There were a lot of burial tombs dug out in the cliffs, which gives you an eerie feeling that the local ancestors are watching you.  After about 3 hours of hiking you are rewarded with a stunning oasis of palm lined pools and little waterfalls where you can have a refreshing swim and some lunch before carrying on into a large canyon filled with thick vegetation and fast flowing streams.

Isalo National Park

Isalo National Park

Madagascan Kistral

Madagascan Kistral

One of the nice things about Madagascar is that the wildlife does not feel threatened by people and you can normally get to within a few metres of birds and mammals before they start moving off.  We got within 1 metre of a Madagascan kestrel which was resting on a rock, he was so relaxed he even tucked one foot into his chest and closed his eyes while we just sat watching him.  We also saw ring tailed lemurs and red fronted brown lemurs around the campsite who where quite happy to pose for photographs.

Isalo National Park has a beautiful campsite within the canyon and is perfectly situated for you to spend many days hiking in the surrounding area.

 

 

 

 

The next installment we visit Beza Mehafaly, Tulear and Ifaty.

Read about Madagascar (Part 1)

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Posted in Travel 8 years, 2 months ago at 2:07 pm.

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