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Ranomafana National Park
There are 19 natural parks, 5 reserves and 21 special reserves in Madagascar. If you are looking for a good natural park to start your lemur discoveries, visit Ranomafana National Park, a dense rainforest taken straight from Jurassic movies!
Ranomafana is a town in eastern Madagascar which is home to a national park of the same name, an important research center and habitat for many endemic species of lemurs and reptiles.
Being a rainforest, as you would expect, it rains throughout the year, the only difference is that during the "dry" season rains are slightly less frequent and plentiful. This biosphere reserve is considered to be the most humid enclave on the island. For the best time to see its rich biodiversity and animals (especially reptiles) we recommend a tour in Ranomafana during the rainy season (October to March), bearing in mind that the humid heat can be oppressive and that some trails may be closed due to flooding or streams. In the remaining months of the year less animals can be seen, but the strolls can still be pleasant and without the risks of finding closed trails. It is one of the greatest and most visited parks in Madagascar. It has served as a model for other parks and reserves in the country and abroad. The average temperature varies between 14 and 20 ° C with a minimum of 2-3 ° C and a maximum of 37 ° C. The average rainfall is between 2,300 mm and 4,000 mm a year.
Inaugurated in the year 1991, it didn’t take long for Ranomafana National Park to become a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The park is situated between the city of Ambositra and the province of Fianarantsoa in a mountainous region of dense forestation. Ranomafana National Park consists of more than 40 000 hectares of land and is part of a complex ecosystem rainforest of Atsinanane. This park is huge, you can’t even visit the third of it in one day, but no need to. The park is teeming with life and it is very easy to see birds, butterflies, chameleons or geckos. You’ll find numerous species of plants, animals and many reptiles and insects. If you are planning to visit Ranomafana, a guide is a must but below are some quick information to introduce you to this beautiful tropical forest:
Ranomafana National Park comprises of numerous valleys and hills crossed by river streams feeding lush vegetation and their occupants. It is located at the plateau of Madagascar and is extremely mountainous with altitudes ranging from 600 to 1,400 meters: variety of altitude that allows the development of different types of forest, from the plain to the rainforest. The park was originally founded as an aim to protect the endangered species of lemurs of this rainforest. Ranomafana is now a true refuge to a large variety of plants and animals, including twelve species of lemurs, rare birds and amphibians.
Ranomafana National Park’s entrance is located in the small village of Ambodiamontana, about 10 hour drive from the capital Antanarivo. You can go by public transport or by taxi if your hotel is not far. We recommend this park for everyone visiting Madagascar, whether you like nature, trekking, bird watching, waterfalls or just to see Lemurs, take the journey, it is a unique experience. Also, you can book a guide at the entrance and participate in a group guided tours and excursions inside the rainforest.
There are several routes to explore Ranomafana National Park. Beginners and seasonal trekkers can take shorter trails like Ala Mando that is usually completed in a couple of hours. Ala Mando can also be trekked at night. Some prefer to explore the rainforest at night for better chances of spotting lemurs, chameleons and other animals. Also there are campgrounds for those who want to rest within the park. There are different routes in the park depending on the time you have to visit it. Here are the 3 main routes:
- Ala Mando trail (short route), which lasts about two hours, goes up to the lookout and back down.
- The Madian route (average route) goes up to the viewpoint, goes into the forest and looks for lemurs and down the Namorona River.
- Multi-days trip. To visit the park and its deepest secrets.
Ranomafana is a primary rainforest that is home to the largest and most diverse animal and plant biodiversity in Madagascar. The great miscellany fauna and flora of the reserve have called the attention of many biologists and naturalists from all over the world for decades. No need to be researcher, you can discover the park on your own, but we highly recommend a guide who know much better the park and how and where to spot lemurs. You can book a guide for as low as €10 euros for a day.
Visiting Ranomafana National Park feels like a visit to a natural underworld. You instantly plunge in the wet environment, greeneries with abundant water with the presence of the river Namorona. The river crosses the park by creating beautiful waterfalls and small ponds. As you go deeper and deeper into the green, you’ll come across several chameleon species, some are perfectly camouflaged and look like leaves, and one can easily miss them without the expert eyes of a guide.
Look above, you’ll see abundant species of birds. In fact, look everywhere, you might see lemurs in their natural habitat or lizards, geckos and various insects. Every once on your trip, you’ll arrive at several viewpoints.
Tips for the visit:
Wear a raincoat, and proper footwear (the ground can be slippery due to rainfall and constant humidity).
Bring water, some snacks or cereal bars.
Long trousers to avoid scratches or allergic reactions from rubbing with lush vegetation.
If you find leeches, they are not dangerous. Put some salt or tobacco to take them off.
Bring lamps and batteries for overnight visits.
A weather resistant camera
Book your flight to Antananarivo and enjoy your trip to Ranomafana National Park.