Madagascar: A gemologist’s journey (Isalo National Park Morning)

On the way from Amboarohy corundum deposit to Illakaka sapphire deposit we pass Isalo National Park, Madagascar’s most visited national park…and probably the most beautiful.

This unique park has incredibly diverse landscapes including grassy plains, mountains, deep canyons and tropical oases with picturesque waterfalls dropping into inviting teal-blue pools of cool water. Our eight hour hike took us through all of these in one day!

Isalo National Park
We begin our day-long hike in terrain that is reminiscent of the Badlands of South Dakota. It’s hot, but the views are spectacular, making it all worthwhile.

Isalo National Park
We pass Frankenstein Rock, an old tomb and a hornet’s nest before descending upon…
Piscine Naturelle: A gorgeous tropical oasis complete with ring-tail lemurs. This area was so beautiful and the water so inviting. It’s one of the favorite tourist locations in the park.

Isalo National Park
We follow the small oasis until it ends and we’re back in the hot arid landscape. We walk some distance under the direct sun before stopping under a nice shade tree for a break. Shade trees are rare in this area.

Our guide takes a moment to show off a tiny scorpion, and the wings of a grasshopper, which mimic a poisonous plant. Then we’re off again!
Isalo National Park

As we ascend a small mountain, we can see our starting point behind us in the distance, and flat grassy plains in front of us.
Isalo National Park
Hiking just a little further takes us peering over deep canyons like the desert southwest. Ken stops to take a selfie over the cliff.

After a busy morning hiking, we stop for an amazing BBQ lunch of ice cold beer, salad, zebu kabobs and rice, while a group of four lemurs entertains us.

Isalo National Park

Tomorrow we continue our beautiful hike in Isalo National Park.

Author: Michelle M. Rahm is a GIA-trained Graduate Gemologist and is President of Colorado’s Mile High Chapter of the GIA Alumni Association. She has been selling gemstones and jewelry online since 1997. Visit her websites and

About mrahm

Michelle holds a Graduate Gemologist Diploma, Graduate Diamonds Diploma and Graduate Colored Stones Diploma through the Gemological Institute of America's distance education program. Michelle currently serves as President of the Mile High GIA Alumni Association. She also serves on the board of the Rocky Mountain Jeweler's Association and is a member of the American Gem Trade Association.
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