These Natural Parks are the reason why your next holiday destination should be… Madagascar!!!
Travelling opens our eyes to the beauty of the world as if we were exploring the pages in the vast book of mother nature. While some places you go are pages, travelling to Madagascar for your next holiday will definitely give you whole chapters of that book of nature.
When the squirrel pushes the acorn too hard… the earth divides
At some point in the prehistoric times, a 226, 917 square miles of land was cut out of Gondwanaland (instigated by Ice Age’s super hype squirrel Scrat and his misadventure with the acorn!). That piece of land has become a melting pot of everything from cultures to wildlife and plants. The now fourth largest island in the world is recognized as one of the world’s 17 megadiverse locations identified by Conservation International. To be a megadiverse country, the requirements are to have at least 5000 species of endemic plants and also housing marine ecosystems on its borders.
Madagascar also houses more than half of the world’s chameleon population, over 100 lemur species and subspecies – there is your good chance to see a live King Julien XIII for those familiar with the Madagascar the movie – 7 terrestrial regions, 5 freshwater and 2 marine regions. The Red Island is very blessed with a rich amount of flora and fauna. All of that makes it a great destination for the curious observers of nature and really for anyone who decides to have a breath of real fresh air in terms of holiday destinations.
Madagascar has beautiful landscapes now organized in protected National Parks and Reserves. Madagascar’s network of protected areas is managed by the Madagascar National Parks Association, a private organization operating under the wings of Madagascar’s Ministry of Environment, Ecology and Forests. We have selected six of the must-sees National Parks in Madagascar so buckle up and let’s roll.
Need to cool off after the Year’s Labour? Say no more… Amber Mountain National Park
The Amber Mountain National Park (AMNP), 1000 kilometers north of the capital Antananarivo, spans on about 45,000 hectares of land. It is one of THE places to visit on the Big Island. It has cooler conditions compared to the surrounding hot regions due to its altitude. AMPN gives you an atmosphere that encourages exploration and discovery of various sights and sounds of animals and plants that you have never seen and will probably never see again if you leave Madagascar.
This is your destination if you really want to see different species of chameleons. The chameleons are as beautiful as they are much. You can spot here the famous Amber Mountain leaf chameleon (Brookesia ambreensis), one of the smallest reptiles in the world. This chameleon is difficult to see but is easy to catch since when it feels endanger, it makes the dead.
You should also check out the waterfalls at the Montagne d’Ambre from the Cascade Sacree to the Cascade Antanakarana and Cascade Antomboka. You are guaranteed a refreshing and serene feel. Now, that sounds like a holiday, doesn’t it?
More perks at the park include ring-tailed mongooses, the popular (or rather unpopular?) fossae, over 10 species of lemurs (of course!), 75 different bird species, and numerous frogs and butterflies. Look out for the endemic Mountain rock thrush, a bird species only found in the Amber Mountain massif.
A note for the bold and extremely adventurous : this happens to be the only park in the country where you can explore without the compulsory assistance of a guide. The park-pathways are well marked out and well maintained.
Home of the Ring-Tailed Lemur – The Andohahela National Park
Andohaleha National Park is a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) world heritage site, i.e., a site of special cultural or physical significance. This is probably the park that you will love the most. The lemur Catta, family and relatives of Madagascar’s movie King Julien run about wondering when they’ll get their chance at Hollywood. All lemurs are available at this park. So if you are desperate for a lemur dose, this is THE park to visit. You should get going to see all those side dancer Lemurs.
Located in the South-East of Madagascar, the Andohaleha National Park is the only place where the local endemic trihedral palm (Dypsis decaryi) occurs naturally. You can also see the traveller tree or Ravenala (Ravenala madagascariensis), the octopus tree and the dwarf baobab.
Isalo National Park to experience the World within a Park
Isalo is the most visited park in Madagascar with about 28,000 visitors every year. Located 700 kilometers southwest of the nation’s capital Antananarivo, it is a home to landforms just as it is to wildlife. Its 201,490 acres of land has proven to be an eye-catcher. The dry landscape of Isalo National Park has incisions made by 17 rivers. Erosion has been quite a good and proficient architect in handling the sandstone massifs in the areas. It has shaped them into ridges, canyons full of color, plateaus and valleys. . It is a very unique park to visit and a breathtaking destination for your holiday.
Other bonuses in this Park include many bird species, such as the rare Benson’s rock thrush. It perches on rocky boulders, dry stone walls, poles, overhead wires and other dominant sites, which often makes this particular thrush easy to see. The lemurs are not left out of the fun at the Isalo National Park and will be there waiting for you when you make your way down. There are many lemurs to see whether it is daytime or nighttime.
This park is in the Toliara Province of Madagascar. One of the cuddliest and fluffiest of man’s best friend has been named after this province: the famous Coton de Tulear. It is a breed of small dog with a very soft hair comparable to a cotton ball, hence the name.
Are you a stickler for Marine Life? The Answer is the Mananara Nord National Park
For those interested in marine life, this 355,832 acres of park is the one for you. It is the first marine park in Madagascar. The park was founded in 1989 and is located 250 kilometers north of Toamasina (aka Tamatave) the capital of the Atsinanana(East) region . Around 80% of the park is dedicated to marine life: many coral reefs, an estimated 180 species of fish, mollusks and echinoderms. Humpback whales can also be seen in the area and are easily sighted during the third quarter of the year.
The 20% taken by terrestrial life is certainly nothing to sniff at. It is rich in landforms such as deep valleys and waterfalls. There are also the Mangroves which are tropical humid forests and marshlands very rich in terms of biodiversity. These conditions allow adjoining communities to be able to abundantly grow rice, coffee, vanilla and clove.
As if it is not vibrant enough, more colors are added by colorful bird species such as the red-tailed Vanga (Calicalicus madagascariensis), reptiles, amphibians, rodents and lemurs including the Indri (locally known as the Babakoto). Indri is the known largest species of lemur. Amphibian species feel certainly at home due to the dual nature of the Park: marine and terrestrial.
Madagascar looks forward to seeing you on your next holiday.
Andasibe-Mantadia National Park: where you will find the singing Lemur Indri (Babakoto)
Talking about the Babakoto, a park that encompasses two distinct and beautiful areas: the Perinet also known as Reserve of Indri of Analamazaotra and the Parc National de Mantadia. This is the most accessible rainforest park from the capital of Madagascar.
The Indri call out to all who come around this park. Their songs, similar to those of whales, can be heard kilometers away before arriving to the Park. If you are lucky, they might be willing to join you for lunch, especially if you have fruits with you. After a visit to this park, the kids usually sing like Indri so be ready for it… Let’s be real, even adults do! The Indri’s calling are so distinctive…and fun to imitate!
There are also other types of lemur such as the diademed Sifaka and the black and white ruffed lemurs. There are other animals like the Firasabé of Madagascar (Eutriorchis astur), previously known as Madagascar serpent eagle. Both Perinet and Mantadia are exceptionally rich in frogs and reptiles. Same goes for the accompanying flora that makes the visit cool and beautiful.
Walking on tiptoes but having Fun at the Tsingy de Bemaraha
This park, located in the western region of Madagascar, is well-known for its intricate and complicated limestone needles. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. Though there are some parts that are off bounds to tourists, there are enough sights to leave you with a once in a lifetime experience. The park is a tough one to visit and is only open between April to November.
Limestone needles, though exceptional, are not the only attractions available at Bemaraha. There is also the spectacular canyon of the Manambolo river, rolling hills and high peaks. The primary forests, lakes and mangrove swamps are the habitat for rare lemurs and birds. The Madagascar Iguana would also be one to look out for in this park.
Truth is whatever park you visit, Madagascar is filled with beauty from one end to another. Get ready for THE holiday of a lifetime. Is it not time to book those tickets now?