Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve is a must-see on a trip to Madagascar with the unusual ‘forest’ of limestone pinnacles and a wealth of wildlife, flora, and fauna.
About Tsingy de Bemaraha Park
This unique protected UNESCO heritage site is located in the Melaky region, northwest Madagascar. The Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve covers 666 sq km comprising of karstic needle-shaped limestone formations and has four different circuits you can follow.
You’ll find around 650 different fauna and flora species here, 85% of which are endemic to Tsingys de Bemaraha. The park is home to many animal species including 100 types of birds, 60 types of amphibians, and 11 types of lemurs to name but a few.
The word ‘Tsingy’ is indigenous to the Malagasy language and means ‘walking on tip toes’ or ‘the place where one cannot walk barefoot’ demonstrating how sharp they are to touch.
Guide to Tsingy de Bemaraha Nature Reserve
‘Grands Circuits’ Trek
On arrival, we were introduced to our guides Deepo & Tivi who gave us a briefing on the rules of the park. As it is considered a sacred place, you cannot point, no smoking, and ask the guide if you need to pee, they will tell you where you’re allowed to.
Next, we were fitted with harnesses for the Ferrata on our trek. The trail is only 3km but does take around 4 hours to complete with the climbing up rocks and tricky manoeuvres under the razor-sharp rocks. The infrastructure created with fixed cables, ladders, and bridges was excellent and felt safe at all times.
The narrow suspension bridge was 200m above the ground, it says only one person at a time, I wasn’t going to risk doing otherwise. On the other side, the view of the landscape of limestone pinnacles was simply breathtaking.
‘Petits Circuits’ Trek
This was a bit more leisurely than a big circuit, no harness required! Following a short stroll through the forest, we were greeted with a labyrinth of narrow walkways we had to shuffle down to pass.
Within the hole of a tree, we spotted a Sportive Lemur peeping out which was lucky to find considering they are nocturnal, he just looked straight at us but they are so-called because of the boxing-like stance they assume when threatened. We could hear the tweeting of the Madagascar Bulbul and the Vasa Parrot. Out of nowhere, a Malagasy ring-tailed mongoose darted across our path, think the nosey tourists were too much but he was easily recognisable by his bushy, ringed tail.
We crossed wooden walkways seeing huge spiders in webs glistening in the sun and smaller baobab trees nestled into the rocks. We climbed metal ladders to reach the viewpoint displaying the magnificent stone landscape into the distance. These rocks not only look amazing but they’re musical too, when you tap them they make a sound like tapping metal owing to the fact that they contain magnesium.
Our parting gift was the sighting of a rare Madagascar Fish-Eagle sat high up in the tree, a program has been launched in the Antsalova region to increase the number of individuals up to 250 so you can understand how endangered they are.
Go Chameleon spotting
Nearly half of all chameleon species are from Madagascar so we took a drive near the hotel to see if we can spot any of these vivid lizards chilling in the trees.
Contrary to common belief, chameleons change their colour to reflect their mood sending signals to other chameleons rather than to match their surroundings. They can change depending on light and temperature but they generally inhabit the surroundings to match their colouring.
We stumbled upon a few chameleons which are apparently easier to find at night with light than in the day, I’ll be honest the only time I knew we were onto something was when our driver Marc leaped out of his car to show us. Their long fingers hold onto the branches helped along by their long curly tail. They are fascinating to watch as their bulging eyes move independently from each other eyeballing all of us gawping at them. Great to see these guys out in the wild!
Malagasy Proverb: Like the chameleon, one eye on the future, one eye on the past.
VISITING TSINGY DE BEMARAHA
Best time to visit Tsingy de Bemaraha
The Tsingy de Bemaraha Nature Reserve is closed in the rainy season as the water rises to around 10m bringing in the crocodiles and making it impossible to cross the river so head there between May and November. Expect to pay 55,000 Ariary to enter the park (price correct as of 2017).
How to get to Tsingy de Bemaraha
To reach the area, we drove from Belo and crossed the Tsiribhina River by loading the 4×4’s on the ferry, three at a time. Bear in mind, that the ferry stops running at 6 pm when planning your big travel adventure.
Our trip was organised by Trekkup
Where to stay by Tsingy de Bemaraha
To stay very close to the Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park, look for accommodation near the village of Bekopaka.
We stayed in Olympe de Bemaraha which was amazing with bungalows, open plan restaurant and a covered terrace overlooking panoramic Manambolo River views. The outdoor pool was perfect for sipping cocktails after the long, bumpy drive!
If you fancy getting the full Tsingy experience, there are 3 campsites within the park itself.
Remember Travel Insurance
Always make travel insurance a priority for any adventure! World Nomads is my go-to guys, I’ve learned this from experience. You can buy and claim online even when you’ve left home. I love that they give a little back too and support community development projects in various countries.
PIN FOR LATER!
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