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 which includes driving along some rough, rutted dirt roads from the west coast town Morondava. This can be broken with an overnight stop at Kirindy Forest, which is 90 min - 2 hours drive north of Morondava. The road trip from Kirindy to the Tsiribihina River is followed by 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 settlement. Tourists travelling from Morondava to Bekopaka are accompanied by security personnel who drive in separate vehicles.

Wildlife 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 rough 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. 

* As a result of climate change, the rains fell earlier than traditionally has been the case, during the austral spring of 2022, so planning ahead, we no longer recommend travelling to this park beyond mid October. 

Derek Schuurman

Travel Specialist

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