Among Madagascar's most alluring geological phenomena are its 'tsingy' plateaux, found in the drier western half of the country. Largest of these is the 152,000ha Tsingy de Bemaraha, one of the country's World Heritage Sites. To allow visitors to explore this incredible place, walkways have been constructed with great care and careful planning. There are some steel ladders and cable ropes, enabling access to narrow canyons.
The park is most often reached by a 10hr journey from the west coast town Morondava. This can be broken with an overnight stop at Kirindy Forest, which is 2 hours drive north of Morondava. The 90 minute road trip from Kirindy to the Tsiribihina River is followedby a 45 minute ferry crossing. A lunch stop can be made in Belo sur Tsiribihina, at the highly praised 'Mad Zebu', where the chef was trained in France. The 5 hour journey from Belo to Bekopaka - the access town to the park - involves poor dirt roads and a second, quick ferry crossing just before the settement.
Wildife in the national park includes the all-white Decken's sifaka and troops of Brown lemur. Birdlife abounds, including the recently described Tsingy wood-rail. Half the country's bat species roost in the extensive network of caves here. Reptiles present include various species of snake, iguanids and 'Brookesia' chameleons.
Set aside at least three nights to make the most of your visit to this national park. Accessible from June to November, the spectacular 'grand' tsingy are a highlight. They are located approximately 90 minutes drive from the hotel along a dirt track. The circuit through the Grand Tsingy (just over 3km) takes about 4 - 5 hours. It is not for the faint-hearted. (There are hanging bridges and rope ladders. Safety harnesses are provided). A second day can be used to visit the petite tsingy (the circuit takes about 2 hours) and then the Manambolo River, along which there are impressive baobabs, some picturesque natural pools, 'Vazimba' burial caves, wooded gorges and rare wildlife. The Manambolo river excursion can be done on the same day as the Petite tsingy visit.
Please note that a reasonable level of fitness is required for negotiating the terrain in this park. We recommend taking lightweight cycling gloves to protect hands from friable tsingy formations. For any visitors with degenerative conditions of neck or spine, we recommend taking an inflatable neck pillow to cushion the spine on the poor and rutted roads to Bemaraha.
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