Tour to Tsimanampetsotsa National Park and 4x4 journey towards Itampolo

June 24, 2013 

The National Park of Tsimanampetsotsa is a real gem, as it hosts several baobab among the oldest in the world, a huge strangler ficus, a salty lake with flamingos and a cave where you can find a blind fish without pigmentation, which lives only here. The journey then continues south to Itampolo, another fishing village with a great beach, crossing forests of Alluaudia procera and always being careful not to run over the many tortoises that sometimes "invade" the tracks.

Blind fish in Madagascar
This small cave in the heart of Tsimanampetsotsa national park in south-western Madagascar, is known for the presence of a completely blind fish that lives in a pond a little bigger than a puddle.
Typhleotris madagascariensis Blind fish
Blind fish photos. Typhleotris madagascariensis, the blind fish and apparently without pigmentation , who lives in a dark cave in the national park Tsimanampetsotsa. How did he come up here?
The Tsimanampetsotsa National Park is known for the presence of many succulent plants, including some species of milkweed.
Smiling baobab tree

The smiling baobab is so called by locals because some wrinkles at the center of its trunk abnormal remind, with a bit of imagination, a beautiful smile.
Millenary baobab
But the real queen is this baobab of about 3000 years, possibly one of the world oldest tree.

The great millenary baobab: details on the bark of the trunk and on a fruit .
Another nice baobab, with the double trunk.
Huge ficus
Another amazing surprise is this huge ficus. It is in fact a single copy which has expanded to cover a large area, going down to a cave that contains a pond.
In the park of Tsimanampetsotsa there are also many Pachypodium lamerei that can be observed in both juvenile and adult form .
Tsimanampetsotsa Tsimanampetsotsa Madagascar
The park also includes a salty lake with very colorful waters where , especially in April, it is possible to observe two species of flamingos.
Cart pulled by sebu
After the visit to the interesting national park Tsimanampetsotsa, the journey in Madagascar continues further entering the deep south, towards Itampolo. By now I have not seen motor vehicles for a lot of miles and the only means of transport crossing is the cart pulled by zebu.
Radiated tortoise Geochelone radiata

Photos of radiated tortoises (Geochelone radiata), medium-sized turtle endemic to southern Madagascar begin to make their first timid appearance Sometimes these turtles are on the edge of the track and you have to always be very careful not to run them over (picture on the left).
Radiated tortoises
A radiated tortoise with his mouth dyed red from the pulp of prickly pear.
prickly pears Opuntia
Prickly pear

The prickly pears are not natives of Madagascar, but they have been imported and have now almost become too many thanks to the perfect climate for their needs. However, the plant is useful to the local population for the fruits as well as to feed the zebu in the event of a long drought or famine.
The journey continues towards Itampolo and like bizarre windmills the Alluaudia appear; they can be seen especially along the contour of the hills.

Beautiful Alluaudia in Madagascar.
Photos Alluaudia. Here several Alluaudia with branches generally bent towards the direction of the sea.

The Alluaudia ascendens, recognizable by its heart-shaped leaf. The trunks can have large diameters
Alluaudia that stand out against the sky, sometimes like curious lightning rods.
Alluaudia trollii

I see also a kind of Alluaudia still not met until this moment: the Alluaudia trollii, characterized by longer spines and branches which tend to be composed of several segments.

The upper part of a Alluaudia trollii
The upper part of a Alluaudia trollii.
In the evening I reach Itampolo and its crowded beach.
Experiment of photos taken in HDR.
In Itampolo in the deep south of Madagascar, I find accommodation in a spacious bungalow on the beach.
The bathroom and the door with view on the sea (and sheep grazing)
Little spider
On the sand I see hundreds of spiders that live each in a small hole.

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English translation by Lorena Anzani.