Berenty Private Reserve is the easiest place to see Ringtail lemurs and ‘dancing’ Verreaux sifakas in a natural setting and, consequently, probably the island's best known nature reserve. Created some 80 years ago by the de Heaulme family, which still owns and runs it, Berenty Reserve is a tract of dry gallery Tamarind woodland and the remarkable southern 'spiny bush' (Eurphorbia-Didieracea bush) in a sea of sisal fields. Dr. Alison Jolly’s Lords and Lemurs is a vivid account of the creation of Berenty and relations between the de Heaulmes and post-colonial Madagascar. Our 2022 and 2023 clients thoroughly enjoyed their wildlife experiences in this reserve.


West of the Ranopis Mountains, which mark the transition zone between the semi-arid southern domain and the permanently humid eastern domain, Berenty is a small reserve on the banks of the Mandrare River. Its roughly 257 hectares encompass spiny bush and, closer to the river, dry Tamarind gallery woodland. Due to its floral composition, the spiny forest at Berenty looks quite different from that at Ifaty. The arboretum near the Berenty restaurant contains a collection of the extraordinary flora of the spiny forest, all identified, and may enrich your exploration of this threatened habitat.

There is a network of broad, well-maintained trails along which easy exploration is possible.


By day, you will see numerous Ringtail lemurs and Verreaux' sifakas, as well as some hybrid Brown lemurs, which were introduced to Berenty. At night, look for White-footed sportive lemur, Grey mouse lemur, the newly recognised Red-and-grey mouse lemur, and Common and Lesser hedgehog tenrecs. There is a raucous roost of Madagascar flying foxes (Fruit bats) in the reserve.


Reptiles are prolific, including Warty and Jewell chameleons, various skinks and lizards and snakes such as the Madagascar ground boa. The critically endangered Madagascar radiated tortoise, Geochelone radiata, and the Spider tortoise, Pyxis arachnoides, are both found in the reserve and in enclosures. The latter were rescued from markets or bred in captivity. All endemic Malagasy tortoises are gravely threatened by the illegal trade in reptiles.


Birding is good and around 100 bird species have been recorded at Berenty. Among the most sought-after resident species are Madagascar cuckoo-hawk, the stately Giant coua, Crested coua, White-browed owl, Sickle-billed, Hook-billed and Chabert's vangas, Common newtonia and Madagascar mannikin.

When to go

Berenty can be visited year round. It has cold, dry winters and hot summers (Nov– Feb), when temperatures can exceed 40°C and heavy thunderstorms can occur. Ringtails generally give birth in Sept/Oct, at the end of the dry season, enabling them to wean their young in February/March, the season of abundance.

If you wish to spend more than a night at Berenty, plan your trip well in advance.


Berenty is west of Fort Dauphin, about 3 hours’ journey along a recently upgraded road (July 2023 update). You will know you are close to Berenty when you arrive at the sisal plantations surrounding the reserve, redeemed only by some splendid specimens of the large baobab, Adansonia Za.

Derek Schuurman

Travel Specialist

I'm here to tailor-make your perfect holiday. Give me a call and I'll use my expertise to create your personalised experience.
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