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 small area of Tamarind woodland and spiny bush in the middle of 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 clients thoroughly enjoyed their wildlife experience 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 forest 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 independent exploration is permitted.
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.
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, Sicklebill, 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 monotonous sisal plantations surrounding the reserve, redeemed only by some splendid specimens of the large baobab, Adansonia Za.
Located in the centre of Fort Dauphin, La Croix du Sud is a simple hotel with 32 en suite rooms facing into a quad, where there is an attractive tropical garden.Rooms are equipped with satellite TV, telephone and mini-bar. Internet connection is also available. Meals are taken at its adjacent, sister hotel, Le Dauphin, only about 100 meters away.La Croix du Sud is a convenient option when visiting...
Berenty Lodge has 31 en-suite rooms and recently saw a substantial refurbishment. The lodge is opposite Malaza Forest, in one of Madagascar’s oldest reserves, established by the De Heaulme family in 1937. Breakfasts are served in the snack-bar, near the bungalows, from where you can watch wildlife while you dine. There is a recently renovated restaurant with a fixed menu and nearby, a fascin...
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