This young girl was playing catch with her younger brothers. I loved the spontaneous laugh she broke into when I tried to take her photograph. That missing tooth is priceless.
Mafana and her Brothers
The two boys looked on cautiously as their older sister posed in front of the camera, seemingly without a care in the world.
Cliffs such as these in Isalo are held in high regard by local tribes. The summits are often places of important worship. A few acacia trees and a lone buzzard soaring above the great valley beneath her made this a truly remarkable setting.
Red Carpet Chameleon
This modest, rather drab female of the Carpet species poises on her branch before scurrying into the safety of a leafy undergrowth.
A deadly trap awaits an unsuspecting beetle, should he choose to walk along this woody byway.
The boulders and cliffs offered some relief from the scorching sun that bleaches rock and dries river beds. The place had a very wild west feel.
View of Parque Isalo
We hiked for a day along deep ravines, long-grass plains and cliff edges before entering a fertile valley and a haven for lemur species and other animals.
The Golden Orb Spider
These spiders are found throughout much of Madagascar and reach the size of a human palm. This mother is weaving a nest for her offspring.
The Elephant Plant
Nature's equivalent of a tub of water, this succulent species is able to hold and conserve water in its voluminous belly and survive months of extreme drought.
Lemurs are extremely vocal primates and as we approached the rocky plateau we could hear their calls echoing around the caverns.
The red and golden hues of sandstone in mid-morning light is a sight to behold. The rocks blush a deeper shade of purple as the sun begins to set.
Savannah and scrubland stretched out for miles beyond the rocky outcrop.
Common in the arid regions of southern Madagascar, this scorpion is in a defensive position with claws at the ready.
The flora and fauna of Isalo is adapted to a scarcity of moisture.
The Painted Hills
Iron and copper leave rusty red and green streaks in the rock faces, testament to their centuries of erosion. Below the great cliffs lay swathes of deciduous forest.
A rocky outcrop fringes a wide expanse of savannah in this arid zone of Madagascar.
Hardy trees such as this acacia thrive in the thorny desert.
Perfectly adapted to life on the cliffs, the lizard has excellent eyesight to target its insect prey and watch out for predating birds and snakes.
Spiny Tailed Rock Lizard
Like all reptiles, this lizard basks in sunlight to warm its blood and build up energy. In a flash, he's back under a rock crevice.
Patterns in the Desert
The Rock Lizard's back is a beautiful pattern of black and white cross-hatches.
A Rocky Wilderness
The perfect setting for a western movie, this inhospitable landscape harbored a rich collection of wildlife in its narrow valleys, rocky crevices, and any other spot where water could accumulate.
The fiery red landscape, almost moon-like at times, was a perfect place to spot chameleons and rock lizards.
These black grasshoppers with red markings on their upper parts are highly venomous, the colour serving as a warning to lemurs and other predators.
Snakes are abundant in Madagascar and our guide produced a fine specimen from under a dry bush.
The edge of a river bed in Isalo. I love the effect that running water creates over sunlit sand.
Cracks in the Clay
A dry river bed awaits its next drink of the year.
Walk in the Park
The landscape stretched out before us in earthy browns and greens, and dotted with red or purple rocks that glistened under the sun.
A lemur's eyes are impossibly round. They give his owner an anxious look as he scurries the forest floor for food, and an almost cartoon-like humor when they are half-closed with tiredness.
The interior of such a large island mass sees clouds roll over without so much as a drop of rain. All of that changes in the wet season when tropical storms brew up in the Indian Ocean and flood the valleys.
Palm fronds blow in the gentle breeze on the edge of a dry river.
Purple hued cliffs lock themselves around a verdant trail of deciduous forest.
A Guide's Find
Scouring the ground for animals and plants is all in a day's work for Davide. Here he delicately picks up a poisonous locust species by its wings.
A dry river bed cuts its way across the arid landscape of Isalo National Reserve in southern Madagascar.
In the more exposed parts of the country, a small bird or chameleon may be the only visitor for miles around. Lemurs prefer the protected crevices and cliff edges that dot the landscape.
Black-faced Brown Lemur
Contemplating one more leap across the tree trunks or staying put to guard his bit of space in the air, these lemurs are vocal, confident and sociable.
Middle of the Day
We found a rocky plateau to rest on before continuing with our expedition through Isalo.
Vines and thorns frame the entrance to a dry path in southern Madagascar.
Large swathes of deciduous forest carpet the valley floor.
Careful grooming and cackling vocalization are just part of the complex social etiquette that brown lemurs must adhere to on a daily basis.
Shoots of young bamboo topple over one another in their struggle for sunlight. The delicate leaves glow in the mid-day sun.
The soil was dark rusty-brown in colour, testament to the great amount of iron that it contains.
Dressed in Green
A young Oustalet's Chameleon makes his way along a nimble branch in a wooded area of Isalo National Park.
Healthy ferns dripping with moisture carpet the valley floor around a spring in the middle of Isalo national park. As the leaves advance in age they crinkle and become rusty red in colour.
Mossy rocks and ancient trees frame the way forward along a humble flight of stairs etched into the rock.
The Valley in Morning Light
Mossy crevices and hidden stairways glow under the rich morning sun.
Mossy stones form a makeshift pathway across shallow waters. Streams bring fresh water from Madagascar's central highlands towards its coastal lagoons and the Indian Ocean.
Sounds of the Forest
A lemur's attention is momentarily roused by the calls of rival troops.
Logs of wood bleached by the sun are strewn over mossy rocks.
Rocks dazzle in the gentle afternoon light.
A Black and White Oddity
Those great round orbs look so deep and ghostly behind the blue filter of a camera lens.
Walking on Water
A spider uses a carpet of bubbles suspended on leaf litter to make its way across the forest floor.
A large Darwin's Spider sets herself up for the catch of the day. Many of Madagascar's woods are heavily infested by spiders.
Setting the Scene
As evening begins to descend on the grasslands and dry forests of southern Madagascar, cicadas and other insects begin their surreal chorus.
Juan and David
Another photograph of my travel companion Juan, here with David, our guide through Isalo. Juan is a birding expert with a keen sense for avian photography.
Portrait of a Ring-Tailed Lemur
These are the most sociable of all lemur species, huddling together in large groups and formulating elaborate plans to snatch food away from unsuspecting visitors.
The warm waters of this languid valley supported a great diversity of aquatic life.
Riverside plants admire their own reflections in the still water of a forest pool.
Ring Tailed Lemur Profile
Tufts of fur catch the light above this lemur's attentive ears. This is an attractive lemur species, with a long muzzle and deep-set eyes.
Whiskers and Eyeshadow
After applying makeup Lady Lemur steals one more glance in her mirror before heading out for the all important evening ball.
A loose assemblage of stones led across a valley stream in the lush valley of Isalo national reserve.
Red-Eyed and Furry
Brown lemurs have senses that are highly tuned in to the forest environment.
Young saplings cast their shadows over a Brown Lemur's face, giving him a prisoner-in-jail look.
A casualty from a past tropical storm rests on a mossy stone platform.
The heat of the day was tangible and we found a constant need to seek shade and rest on the edge of the sandy dunes.
Breakfast at the Blue Bar
A young girl stocks up on samosas and French buns for her familiy's breakfast, in the heart of Isalo.
The glare of an afternoon sun strikes the fronds of forest bracken and ferns. Long grasses and mosses provide healthy habitats for endemic species.
Sunset on Isalo
The delicate rays of light revealed the layers of sandstone that tell a geological story.
Reflecting the savannah of Madagascar's continental mother, acacia trees and flat clouds work wonders in the late hours of the day in Isalo National Park.
Notebook: On the Edge
Young trees and saplings anchor themselves to the edge of a cliff as they reach for the sun. All along our expedition we were treated to natural skylights above the valley's rocky walls.
Notebook: A Spider's Life
A Darwin spider suspends herself from a silk line that she spun across a narrow stream.
Notebook: Rising High
A narrow valley lined with evergreen hardwoods cuts deep into the arid ground.
Notebook: Grassy Banks
A skyline of grassy skyscrapers stands out against the flat clouds of Madagascar's horizon.
Notebook: An Endless Expanse
The rocks and mountains appeared to be carelessly tossed and strewn around the desert floor, as though without any reason or planning. With a little imagination, one could imagine the place underwater, as it might have been millions of years ago.