Ifotaka is a remote Antandroy village notable for its dry Tamarind gallery forests, two of only four stands in the Mandrare River Valley. Its ground-breaking community ecotourism project began in 2001 and the luxury Madagascar Classic Camping’s Mandrare River Camp is situated nearby.
From Easter through New Year, you can explore intact, sacred gallery forest where the island’s national mammal, the Ringtail lemur, and the adorable, critically endangered Verreaux's sifaka - are commonly seen. They are equally at home in the healthy Spiny Bush which travel writer Dervla Murphy so aptly Christened ‘Nature’s Botanical Lunatic Asylum’. The Baobabs in this part of the south are of the large southern Malagasy species Adansonia za, standing like sentinels among much bushy Euphorbia, endemic Aloes and tall, spiky Finger trees (Didieraceae).
Reptiles such as the now critically endangered Madagascar radiated tortoise still exist there, and birding is rewarding, with specials such as Giant, Running and Crested couas being frequently spotted, along with garrulous Sicklebill vangas and Sakalava weavers.
While parts of Ifotaka's spiny bush have been decimated due to 'hatsake' (slash and burn agriculture), there are still impressive tracts remaining (2018). In many cases, parcels of forest or woodland are protected when they conceal tombs, so are considered 'ala fady' (sacred forests). Guests at Mandrare River Camp are usually taken by guides to see examples of Antandroy tombs in the ala fady, during which time it is also possible to learn about the resident culture.
Read more about Ifotaka Community Forest