THE FRIENDLY REPTILE CENTER
Ok, reptiles may not be for you, but this place is a natural wonder. The MADAGASCAR EXOTIC (REPTILE FARM) actually breeds a variety of reptiles and insects. This means you can see great examples of truly exotic fauna all in one place very quickly. You would need months to see all these varieties in the wild. Some of the chameleons are truly exceptional and unique. Some are brightly coloured, others blend in with the environment. You would truly miss out on seeing half of the natural diversity of Madagascar without a visit to this remarkable place.
The center is also known as Réserve Peyrieras, after it's founder, Mr. Peyrieras. They are open 7 days a week from 7 am to 6 pm and it costs less than $5 (US) to get in.
Please click on the photos for a better view!Related to:
- Jungle and Rain Forest
Brown Lemurs are friendly and cuddly. These friendly guys are actually 'Red-Fronted Brown Lemurs' or Eulemur Rufus. It’s a little hard to tell the difference between the males and females because they are the same size. A give-away that it’s a female is when they are carrying a baby (last picture). These cute little guys live for up to 30 years and they definitely love bananas. They also eat fruit, flowers, leaves, bark, sap, soil, insects, centipedes and millipedes. Obviously they are not picky eaters. They live in mixed groups of 13-18. Females have a gestation period of 130 days and give birth to 1-2 babies between August and October.Related to:
- Jungle and Rain Forest
Madagascar is one of best place to visit on Indian Ocean , this island is unique , rich for the wildlife , culture, beaches resort and so on...
If you will be there on December , it's rain season so east part is not best place to visit because it's wet area and too much rain so the south part is best place for you or north.
If you lead to the south follow the national road 7 , visit Ranomafana park, Anja reserve, Isalo park and after you long journey , you could relax at Anakao beach before you will fly back to Tana.
For the north start in Ankarafantsika then continue to Majunga then extend your tour to Diego Suarez visit Ankarana and Montaigne d'ambre then drive back to Ankify where you will catch the boat to Nosy Be , one of best place for relaxing .
About the Tour Operator you have to compare the price and best option, justez hire car for your trip and it's enough you can arrange yourself your trip and try to deal with the owner.
Mantadia-Andasibe NP (Périnet)
The first park we visited was the Mantadia- Andisabe National Park, also known by its colonial name Perinet. In every park you must hire a guide to go with you on your hike. In this case we had a very good one (especially compared to the others during this trip). He was specialized in birds and found the crested nightjar, a rare endemic nocturnal bird, for us. He also showed us a girafnecked beetle.
But like most visitors here we came to see the Indri-Indri, the largest of all lemurs. Judging to the calls (you can hear the whale-like call for 5 km) they were around. After going into the hills we soon found several familygroups. One mother jumped from one tree to another and dropped the young in the proces. The baby dropped at least 4-5 meters. We all held our breath. The female Indri-Indri came down slowly, the youngster was crying for her on the ground. She picked it up very carefully and went up in the tree. It seemed to have a happy ending. The guide told us he had never seen a lemur dropping a baby before, lets hope he will never see it again.
On our external website we have a short movie in which you can hear the call of the Indri-Indri: http://www.tomengonnie.nl/movie/Indri.WMVRelated to:
- National/State Park
The second rainforest we visited was Ranomafana. Ranofamana became a NP after they discovered the golden bamboo lemur in this area. Ofcourse we had to book guideservices. As we were with 18 people we had several guides and the group was devided in smaller groups. One group decided to do a 3 hour walk, while the other groups wanted a four hour walk. At this point the guides started to talk us into taking a 4 hour walk because we wouldn't see anything on a 3 hour walk........ Ofcourse this was not the point, the point was they get payed less for a shorter walk. We sticked to the plan, but the guide was not interested in showing us anything special after this discussion. There goes the tip...... no good guide, no good tip.
We did manage to see some bamboo lemurs though. The only down point being we had to walk down (or up) the hills, without any tracks, to end up under a tree with lemurs in it and about 40 tourists under it. The Ranomafana Park is natural beauty though.
For our thought on the nightwalk in this park see the tourist trap section of the tips!Related to:
- National/State Park
Visit a montane rainforest!
Montagne d'Ambre was the first of the national parcs visited by us. It is a montane rainforest - meaning that it is found between 800 and 1300 high. The difference between lowland rainforest? It has tree ferns , spectacular to watch , bamboo is common , leaves are smaller an tougher ...etc.
Why we enjoyed montagne d'ambre?
A guide is not obligatory here. We probably would have seen more with a guide , but since we were going to visit 2 other national parcs were guides are obligate we choose not too. We even decided to stay for 2 nights. Aren't we brave? Frederik gave himself the title of 'mister Madagascar adventure 2005'. The camping place here is a stunning location , an open area with shelters in the middle of the forest - 3 km from the entrance of the parc and 7 km from Joffreville - the nearest ex-colonial village.
It is because of that village , that used to be a pleasure resort for the French military , that the rainforest here isn't 100% pure. There is a botanical trail and some species don't really belong on Madagascar.
Did we see wildlife? Yes we did. The montagene d'Ambre is among the most accesible of the Madagascar national parcs. If there is a cruise ship in Antsiranana (Diego Suarez) they will all visit the parc. They drive into the parc , walk hunderd meters to the sacred waterfall and walk back - eat what the cooks left behind on the camping site serve them and leave. They didn't bother us too much. Space enough. The first day we found the 3 waterfalls , the highest plunges 80m deep into a fern filled grotto-shape U-turn and was reached by us after half an hour steep walk. (not recommended when it would rain).
Montagne d'Ambre (part 2)
We found lemurs within the first hour of our visit. We climbed up , and I heard noices , like likke pigs...and there they were. The first lemurs spotted on Madagascar , in the wild , by myself. We also enjoyed bird life , the plants and the spectacular red chameleon that soaked up the un in the morning. Interesting insects too.
The nights are long in Madagascar. Light goes out at six and then the forest seems to come alive. In october a strong wind sets up the minute the sun leaves and temperature that is already lower then in Diego (10°) takes another drop down , by the morning it becomes very chilly.
If you are of the scared type....don't stay overnight. It seems like a lot of animals are waiting to come alive during nighttime. The loudest visitor we had was a fosa. They are rarely seen , but I can asure you that we could hear the largest predator in Madagascar loud and clear. And if I didn't knew what they look like before I would run for sure. The Fosa was high in a tree on the edge of the campsite. AMAZING.
Visit a dry decidious forest : Ankarana
Let me take you to 'Ankarana special reserve' or 'réserve spéciale de l"ankàrana' in French. (if you want to pronounce it in Malagasy , leave the last a hehind and say something like Ankarn) This réserve is considered among the most adventurous of all. The réserve is very close to the rainforest of Montagne d'Ambre , but oh so different. About 100 km south of Diego Suarez is the Ankarana massif. The Tsingy of Ankarana - Tsingy are karst or limestone pinnacles This massif is about 30 km long and surrounded by dry forest. Trees and wildlife here are adjusted to a long dry period and periods of heavy rain. From mai to december is the dry season , but Jacques our guide told us that they first call to know when the season opens.
We visited the western side of the parc , which is hard to reach and even not possible during the rainy season.Only 4x4 can make it here. But we choose to go that way since this was the most rewarding site for scenery. Fauna and flora are not as abundant as in the rainforest BUT are easier to spot.
Don't expect any luxury here. We stayed for two nights in a tent. Days are sizzling hot here and nights acceptable pleasant. There are basic toilets and a 'douche Africaine'. (take a bucket and a beker - there is your douche).We stayed at the 'Andrafiabe camping ground'. There are 4 spots where it is allowed to camp. You get up in the morning very early to avoid the 'no mercy' -policy of the sun since it takes some effort to see the tsingy. Watch out for the scorpions (nightactive and large) - they are not mortal , but you'll remember it for the rest of your life if you get bitten.
I'm not the fittest person in the world , but I was willing to do the effort. It was sometimes a hard walk , difficult to climb...etc. But it was all so rewarding. The scenery is amazing. I enjoyed the isolation and the 'lonely planet' feeling here. But I realise that this is not suitable for everybody. (go when your young and healthy. ;-))Related to:
- National/State Park
National parks and nature reserves (esp. lemurs)
This is the only way to see all species (or most of them) of fauna, especially birds, lemurs, chameleons... Madagascar forests are home to lemurs as well as gigantic chameleons and butterflies. Strange to believe that only there are lemurs. Elsewhere, their era ended hundreds of thousand years ago... Seeing them moving, making gesture, sitting just made me feel strange as they are so close to humans... Lemurs in Madagascar are about 15 sorts.
* Vakona Forest Lodge (private) is in Andasibe, near Andasibe national reserve. This concept is I like most. One may rent a bungalow within the forest lodge and have activities to discover nature (horseriding, trekking) and other sport activities.
* Andasibe National Reserve is worth the visit as well. Located 150 km East of Tana, at an altitude of 1000m, it "offers" many species of lemurs (especially, Indri, the tallest one), birds species (falcons, parrots..), orchids...
* Isalo national park with its natural freshwater pool and many fauna and flora species (several species of lemurs, reptiles and 50 birds species). Several hotels in and near the park. Would like to return to witness those gorgeous sunsets & sunrises while camping in this lunar landscape surrounded by silence.
* Tsimbazaza national zoo (Antananarivo), not my fave but if you can't get out of Tana, it's a consolation. From mid-2004, it was under refurbishment.
GO AT TSIMBAZAZA ZOO IF YOU HAVE TO STAY FOR ONLY FEW TIME. IT HOUSES SEVERAL FAUNA AND FLORA SPECIES FROM THE WHOLE ISLAND
Hiring a local ANGAP agreed guide is mandatory entering those NPs. ANGAP stands for "Association Nationale pour la Gestion des Aires Protegees": national association for protected areas management.Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
Charming Antsirabe, litte Europe in Madagascar
While Toamasina and Mahajanga welcome great influxes of holidaymakers during winter holidays (well, they use to be the summer European and US holidays) from July to September, Antsirabe or Bira welcomes holidaymakers in Easter holidays.
Go there to relax as the city is really calm, rather clean. Antsirabe is also the trade place of precious stones that are extracted in Southern Ilakaka. It is also known for its thermal springs (and produces our mineral waters "Visy Gasy" & "Ranovisy").
Tritriva and Andraikiba lakes are worth seeing. Both have their own legend. Ask your guide to arrange a trekking there. Beware, a fady exists concerning Andraikiba lake: No pork meat is allowed.
For it being 160km off Tana, it is a very affordable trip (transportation-cost wise: a taxi-brousse ride is around 5usd, Ar 13000). It has many hotels of different categories t choose from. Plus, the Tana-Antsirabe liaison is a good road and served by taxi-brousses (in Tana, head to Anosibe station to step in your taxi-brousse).
See my page on Antsirabe and Tlogs in Faritanin'Antananarivo page as wellRelated to:
- Budget Travel
- Hiking and Walking
A trip within a trip... Going through Horombe plateau is like discovering many countries at same time, in only 41 kms.
The desert plateau of the Horombe stretches as far as the eye can see. As trip goes by, rocky hills with ricefields at their foot (Asia) are replaced by grey stone blocks along with yellow grass in winter (People use to say it is like in South - American Andes). Another face of plateau de l'Horombe: spotted with satrana palm trees and tiny baobabs (African savannah)
BTW, "Horombe" means "Huge grass"...
Another tip: bring many films as you can, you may be short of films.. It would be a pity... as driving through Plateau de l'Horombe is a trip in a trip, so as going across Isalo region..Related to:
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Road Trip
Isalo region, a unique place in Madagascar
Isalo region is located in the South part of Fianarantsoa province, just before entering Toliara's. Its landscape's feature is a series of ruiniform rocks. Winds and rains had made their work on those rocks, by eroding them, so as to provide them with strange shapes. Yellow-to-orange grass with specific palm trees (satrana in Malagasy).
Go there before it all disappears (read my Tangorombohitr'Isalo page)!
- Isalo national Park
A silent park with canyons, home of 50 species of birds, lemurs species (see "Lemurs canyon"), chamilions, geckos as well as plants (such as "Pied d'elephant"). Not to be missed as well: a natural rock pool that receives clear fresh waters from galleries in the rocks.
Take time to visit this park as it's worth it. Something I will do is to return there and take more time to visit (even camp).
- Isalo window
A window- shaped rock through which you will had a nice "view" of the vast park as well.
- La Reine
It's a pity! I saw it but the guide was in another car and did not mention that this haughty feminine-shaped ruiniform rock is La Reine (the Queen).
Ask your tour-operator to arrange this while touring in South part of Madagascar. They call this classic trip "Big South" or "Grand Sud". Or even better, hire a local ANGAP agreed guide. ANGAP stands for "Association Nationale pour la Gestion des Aires Protegees": national association for protected areas management. It would cost you less and money would go to those guys who know about animals, plants, hidden places and best moments to find them.
See below URL to see my page on this Isalo National Park (under Tangorombohitr' Isalo destination)Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
- National/State Park
Heading East of Madagascar
372 km to drive through Imerina soil and then lush rainforests. To join Toamasina, 6-hour drive is enough. If you stay in nature reserves in Andasibe, Moramanga, it's up to you to stay in hotels and forest lodges before following your path.
Road uses to be well preserved unless it suffered from cyclones disasters in rainy seasons. Then, drivers encounter collapses and landslides. Within few days following landslides, things will be put in right place thanks to public roadworkers and civil engineering.
Landscape starts with ricefields in plains in Imerina region, eucalyptus forest then from Ambatoloana (59 km from Tana), it will swift into forests. The latter are home of thousands of medicinal plants, orchids, trees, fern, lemurs... Next village is Mantasoa, worth a visit with its lake, industrial area that had been designed by Jean Laborde (see tip on Mantasoa).
Gradually, you will descend to reach coastal area. Up to now, you were in the highlands. But soon, you have to descend Falaise de l'Angavo, (Angavo cliff), in Mandraka. From an average altitude of 1400m, you will reach an intermediary altitude of 900m. Combined actions of heat and humidity keep forests thick. While descending, you will see Mandraka hydraulic barrage.
Next city: Moramanga ("where mangoes are cheap"). Halt for lunch (if you left Tana at 9-10 am) after scenic 115 km drive. See my tips on restaurants in my Faritanin'i Toamasina page.
Next: Andasibe Rainforest Reserve, home to the tallest of lemurs, Indri. Birds, other lemurs and chameleons have their VRPs there as well. From there, landscape is packed with green tiny hills, tropical trees (incl. Ravinala, palmtrees..)
Hire a ANGAP agreed guide. ANGAP stands for "Association Nationale pour la Gestion des Aires Protegees": national association for protected areas management. It would cost you less and money will go to guides, not TOs.
My fave since it is no too long, not tiring and just bucolic. More pics in my "Heading East" Tlogues I, II in my Faritanin'i Toamasina page.Related to:
- Business Travel
- Road Trip
There are around 20 national parks in Madagascar. Be aware that they are different form North America or Europe: they are not huge areas of wilderness with a network of hiking trails where you can wander at will. You can only visit parts of the park with a guide. You will need a permit to visit the reserves and national parks. It is obligatory to be accompanied by a guide, and they also require a fee. Guide prices vary from park to park. You can find a list in the park's office. Additionally it is usual to tip your guide if you are satisfied.
River trip + trek at NPs in Mada
We went down to Tsiribihina a month ago with our trustworthy guide Belaza; it was an unforgatable trip for us since we observed the daily activity of the people along the river, we also trekked to the amazing of Tsingy of Bemaraha which is unique in the world; we ended up our trip along the RN7.
l can say that Madagascar is an amazing country we have visited so far.
If you want tp live such an amazing trip like we did write to our guide at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website ( www.gassitours.com )
Happy travellersRelated to:
- Luxury Travel
- Adventure Travel
- National/State Park
La Varangue was a beautiful and peaceful place to rest in busy Antananarivo. We has 2 short stays...more
Lot 66 B Antanetibe Ivato, Antananarivo, 105, Madagascar
Good for: Solo
Le Royal Pallisandre is a very good quality hotel in the heart of the city. The rooms and public...more
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