Ilakaka, sapphire mines – Madagascar Ilakaka (pronounce it Ilakak) is located between Fianarantsoa and Tulear right on the west edge of Isalo National Park. It all started in October 1998 when a farmer found a bluish stone, it was a sapphire. At this time, there were only 40 souls along of this place on interstate 7 and then the western rush started with its crowd of migrants dreaming the new El Dorado, its settling of scores and its disillusions. Today, there are more than 10,000 inhabitants and those who made a fortune are the Thais and above all the Sri Lankans, owners of concessions. The much-desired stones are located at approximately 25 to 25 meters deep in the ground. First of all, we dig 1 meter-large shafts to make test drills of the ground. Difficulty lies in the fact that this first bed is made of sand and consequently it is very flaky, easy to drill but very favorable to collapses that are always tragic. No wall strengthening, no shoring and no ventilation. At this depth, in these vertical guts, air is almost unbreathable. Once this work done, if the collected samples are conclusive we excavate open-air, then a human caterpillar armed with shovels sets up. Here all is done with the force of arms. We also find unofficial people who are trying their luck with parcels abandoned by multinational companies but where we still can find some stones. All the family until children, throw their hearts and souls into it. On evenings and mornings, they are going to try to sell back their small harvest to buyers found along of the road. The ballet of transactions is very fast, fever is palpable. Buyers, in their store behind bars, fitted with a lamp, check the quality of the stone and if this latter interest them, they make a proposal and the deal is made right after it. Some carve the rocks on site, it is the case of the company Color Line created by a French and a Swiss person. It also proposes you to discover the site of Ilakaka.