Ilakaka is located more than 150 miles east of Tulear. The road from Tulear is paved and in excellent condition. As in most parts of Madagascar, there are few cars and more pedestrians and cattle. This part of south central Madagascar is high dessert plain, - warm or hot in the day and windy and cool at night. Before the discovery of gems, the only attraction was the nearby Isalo national park known especially for its unique painted rock formations and there are an estimated 300,000 hand-miners
in the Ilakaka area working in the field at present day.
The town of Ilakaka is only two or three years old. There are perhaps 100 small one or two storey hastily built shanty/buildings with wooden shutters instead of glass windows. The buildings include gem offices, two or three room hotels, clothes stalls, petrol pumps and garages. This town is here for the gems and I cannot imagine any other reason for its existence. The highlights include the Thai hotel/ restaurant 2 km outside of town and the Les Renes De L’Isalo (Hotel in the Rocks) in the national park about 10 km away. A small grass airstrip lies outside of town near Les Renes De L’Isalo. The government recently moved the gemstone buying
area a few kilometers out of town.