Park Nationale d'Isalo

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Africa » Madagascar
July 16th 2010
Published: October 19th 2010
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For Park Nationale d'Isalo, we stay at Hotel Berny. Rivo likes our choice as he gets given a good bed by this place. Some hotels have no driver accommodation and then he'd have to sleep in the car! We also like it as it means he can showers too, could get uncomfortable otherwise. His friend is a guide so he meets us in the evening to describe the possibilities for one day in the park. We opt for the 6 hour hike to pools and waterfalls with the possibility of lemurs. We start at 7:30am with a light walk up to a view point. We see the Bara burial tombs. This tribe has a custom of burying their dead in a cave, closing the cave with rocks. After 5-7 years, they exhume the body, which is by then only bones. This is the turning of the bones ceremony which happens in the highlands at this time of year, unfortunately we don't see any. Each family celebrates the life of the person and then buries their bones in a permanent tomb higher up the cliff side, this can be dangerous as the tombs are placed in difficult to reach areas to prevent raiding as some gifts are given with the body. Each family has their own temporary and permanent tomb, which cannot be used by anyone else. We see a temporary tomb not currently in use, a small coffin is left outside to indicate that it is already reserved for a family. Pointing at tombs is very rude so pointing must be done with a closed fist.
We then walk to a natural pool with waterfall, the water is amazingly clear and according to our guide, Tudi, warm. I have a dip but it's completely freezing, the waterfall water is slightly warmer but only comparatively. I last less than 5 minutes in the water.
The walk gives us views for miles, no-one lives in the park anymore but the Bara Tribe used to live here. There are also other animals in the park but mainly nocturnal so no danger of them getting us!
We continue to walk downwards to the campsite, we are not staying overnight but this is where most lemurs congregate as there is not much food at this time of year so they raid the visitor scraps. It is forbidden to feed the lemurs. We see lots of ring tailed and common brown lemur. The rest of the hike/ walk takes us to a large waterfall, a blue lagoon and a black lagoon. I have learnt my lesson and don't get in any more water. Just as we are about to get back, we are incredibly lucky and see 2 sifakas (pronounced shefukers). The main difference between lemurs and sifakas is that the latter don't drink water, they absorb all the water they need from fruit and leaves. They also bring up their young different to the lemurs.

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