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We head off around 4:30 AM to catch the sunrise. Benja and I climb a mountain near the main road and observe a gorgeous daybreak as black kites and pied crows circle us at eye level. Quite a nice way to start the day.

We hike to two beautiful canyons - Canyon des Rats (named for the presence of Giant Jumping Rats) and Canyon des Signes (also known as Canyon des Maki). Both canyons are spectacular with crystal clear water, colorful sheer cliffs, and verdent/vibrant vegetation including palms and ferns.

We hike the smaller of the two canyons, Canyon des Rats, first. It is deserted -- just us, some Verreaux's sifakas and a couple of snakes. Canyon des Signes is virtually emply as well. It's all about the timing.

On the way back we see a group of ten sifakas playing together [video Windows Media]. Nearby we find some adult flatid leaf bugs [adult form | nymph form] along with some other interesting insects.

In the afternoon we climb a peak near the national road. It takes about a half hour to reach the top and the view is breath-taking. We sit on the edge of a nausetating-high sheer cliff and watch pied-crows, black kites, and Malagasy kestrels circle as the sun sets and a tremendous thunderstorm approaches. When we're hit by the intensely strong wind we begin it time to head back down. It now becomes a race to beat the storm as lightening flashes and thunder rumbles. As we run across the savanna towards the truck we realize we're cut off by a grass fire. We manage to outrun this and reach the vehicle.

Waiting with the driver is a Bara man and his daughter. The peak we just scaled has their family tomb and they wanted to know what we were doing up there. Once we explain that our interest was the sunset not his tomb everything was fine. We stayed and talked for a while and his daughter pointed out a chameleon in a bush.

For those with more than a couple days in Isalo, the 4-5 day Sakamalio hike is highly recomended along with the Portuguese cave ("grotte des Portugais") hike.

In order to catch my connecting flight out of Tulear I leave Isalo at 3:00 am. There is a thick fog that forces the driver to go excruciatingly slow. He makes up his driving hesitation by blasting his old Texas-style country music. We get harrassed more than usual at checkpoints by the military and police (probably the bad music makes us suspect).

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Almost all pictures on this site were taken with a Konica Minolta

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