Perinet is the French name for the railway station at the town of Andasibe and for the Analamazaotra Special Reserve. It forms part of Andasibe-Mantadia National Park. With its well-maintained, broad and gentle trails, 'Perinet's' location only 145km east of the capital, Antananarivo, makes this the most visited reserve in Madagascar. Spectacular primary rainforest can be seen in nearby Mantadia National Park, where slopes are steeper and trails can be narrower than in 'Perinet'. Across the road from the Special Reserve is a rainforest concession managed by the inspiring initiative Association Mitsinjo, the only place where visitors can experience the eastern rainforests at night.
Analamazaotra (Périnet) is a 810-hectare fragment of mid-altitude (900 - 1250m) rainforest. Mantadia is a further 37km north by dirt road and Vohimana is a short drive past Maromizaha rainforest. Madagascar's rainforests are among the densest in the world but with a lower canopy than those elsewhere.
The protected areas in this rainforest block are renowned for their habituated groups of the endangered Indri, the largest surviving lemur – almost everybody sees them. The Indri is about a metre in height and has powerful legs allowing it to leap up to 10m from tree to tree. The animals’ whale-like calls emanating from the rainforest, as the mist lifts off the canopy in the early mornings, is even more compelling than watching the Indri themselves. Indri are monogamous and live in small family groups of up to 6, comprising an adult pair and their dependent young. The female Indri gives birth to a single young every two or three years, usually in June.
There are eleven other species of lemur in the area and you are likely to see the diurnal Common brown lemur and the Eastern grey bamboo lemur. On a night walk, you could encounter Eastern woolly lemur, Goodman's mouse lemur and Furry-eared dwarf lemur. Night walks are most productive in the spring, summer and autumn months (September to May), when the nocturnal lemurs of the area are more active. Several species of tenrec are found in the reserve, as is red forest rat. In Mantadia you have the chance to see Black & white ruffed lemurs.
The area has a rich herpetofauna: key species include the impressive, 2-foot long Parson's chameleon and the tiny Nose-horned chameleon. Many species of gecko, skink and snake may be seen by day. Most reptiles and frogs are seen during night walks, which are conducted in the rainforest concession managed by Association Mitsinjo.
The brightly coloured Golden mantella, Madagascar's flagship frog, is found only in the nearby Torotorofotsy marsh. 'Perinet' claims a world record for number of frog species among rainforests of comparable size - over 100 documented to date.
Birders come to 'Perinet' and Mantadia to seek the island's rainforest-dependent endemics. It is a particularly good location for - among others - Madagascar blue pigeon, Blue and Red-fronted couas, Common Sunbird-asity and the Coral-billed nuthatch vanga and, at night, Madagascar long-eared owl and Collared nightjar. All 4 rainforest dependent ground-rollers may be seen in Mantadia, along with a select band of other rarities.
Birders can visit the marsh of Torotorofotsy to seek rare endemics like Slender-billed flufftail, Grey emutail, Madagascar rail and Meller’s duck, but it is a 4-hour walk. An easier option, with some of the rare endemics, is Ampasipotsy Marsh.
When to visit
This is a rainforest: average annual rainfall is 1700mm, falling on over 210 days per year. Though wildlife viewing is most productive from mid-September to April, the fauna is used to inclement weather and the area can be visited year-round. The wettest months are January to March; the driest, September to mid-November. The mean annual temperature is 18°C, with temperatures around 10°C in July and August rising to 26° or 27° November – January.
145km east of Antananarivo by good tarmac road (drive time approximately 3 hours)