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South Madagascar

With the backdrop of the ocean, the sand dunes, and the savannah and bush plains, Toliara (or Tulear) sits quite magnificently amongst some stunning vistas.  It is a university town and has a vibrant, lively feel.  It is a major import / export hub and the port attracts a whole host of goods on their way into or out of the country.

 

The town is a great place to stock up on souvenirs with its shops and market.  The market is one of the best places to buy lambas (traditional Madagascar sarongs) – a must have souvenir! The municipal museum and the sea museum are also both worth a visit if you have time to spare here.  The municipal museum provides an interesting insight into the culture, tradition and history of Madagascar and the Malagasy people, with the main attraction at the sea museum being the preserved prehistoric fish.  

Toliara

Ranomafana National Park

Meaning ‘hot water’ in Malagasy, Ranomafana is a spectacular national park.  It was here that Dr Patricia Wright discovered the golden bamboo lemur back in 1986; her work in the area helped lead to Ranomafana being declared a national park in 1991.  Today the park protects twelve species of lemur (including the woolly lemur, red bellied lemur, easter grey bamboo lemur, brown mouse lemur and the aye-aye), chameleons, birds, frogs, tenrecs and carnivores.

 

Ranomafana is also an ornithologists paradise – over 100 species have been identified here, around 30 of which are endemic to this area of Madagascar, including Hensts goshawk, Rufous-headed ground-roller, velvet asity and the crested ibis.  

 

Botanists will also enjoy Ranomafana, with its orchids, carnivorous plants and towering trees.  

 

There is a choice of five trails to explore the park, a number of easy treks as well as longer overnight treks for the more adventurous.  

Andringitra Park

The Andringitra National Park was established in the early 1990’s, it is made up of three different ecosystems – low altitude rainforest, montane forest and high altitude forest.

It contains great biodiversity and a number of endemic species.  Over 100 different bird species, 50 mammal species and more than 1000 plants have been recorded in the park.  The park is home to a large number of lemur species, the ring-tailed lemur is especially prolific here.  

 

Andringitra acts an important wildlife corridor linking Ranomafana National Park in the north to Pic Boby in the south.

 

There are a number of different hiking trails within the park, so it is possible to find one to suit every ability.   There are also overnight trails for those wanting a little more adventure.  Waterfalls, orchids, granite peaks, huge escarpments and stunning viewpoints can be found as you make your way along the trails with the wonderful sounds of the wildlife that inhabit the park as your background noise!

Ambositra

Ambositra is home to Madagascar’s wood carving industry.  It is a fascinating town and a great place to while away a few hours.  

 

Artisans can be seen in their workshops or sometimes just around the streets of the town.  The creative flair is easily apparent and the goods are quite remarkable.

Zombitse and Vohibasia National Park

Andasibe-Mantadia National Park

Antsirabe  

Andasibe-Mantadia National Park is situated right next to the town of Andasibe.  The flora here is quite exceptional with some stunning orchids, tremendous trees and towering bamboos.  

 

Andasibe is famous for the Indri, the largest of the lemur species as well as thirteen other lemur species (including the aye-aye, black and white ruffed lemur and diafemed sifaka).

 

As well as the lemurs and other mammals, more than 100 species of birds (many of them endemic, like the Madagascar yellowbrow, Madagascar baza, Madagascar wagtail and the Madagascar serpent-eagle), around 50 different reptiles, among them the biggest chameleon of the island, the boa manditra and many leaf-tailed geckos and more than 80 amphibians. There are also a few local endemic fish swimming in the small rivers and hundreds of insects, among them some extraordinary colourful and big butterflies.

 

There are a number of different trails within the park, most of which  are quite flat and easy to negotiate – the main difference between them being their length.  

The third largest city in Madagascar, Antsirabe is famous for its thermal baths.

 

As well as the hot springs, the town it also synonymous with its sparkling mineral water, made famous as it is used in the production of the famous ‘THB’ (Three horses beer).

 

The city is relatively compact and is easy to explore on foot; the eclectic mix of architectural styles makes wandering around incredibly enjoyable.  Antsirabe is also known for its rickshaws, and even today, they provide a novel means of exploring the city.

Located around 100km west of Isalo National Park, the Zombitse, Vohibasia and Vohimena Isoky parks are today isolated fragments of forest due to the rife deforestation that has occurred predominantly as a result of slash and burn agriculture.   That said, the Zombitse-Vohibasia is one of the Madagascar’s most important remaining areas of dry deciduous forest.  

 

Despite the devastation that the forest has been subjected to, the park is still home to a number of lemur species, including the sifaka, red-fronted brown lemur, ring-tailed lemur and Hubbards sportive lemur.  Birds are also prolific here, including a number of endemic species such as the Appert’s greenbul.  The flora is especially diverse here, with baobabs and orchids especially prevalent.

 

There are a number of different walking trails that allow guests to explore the flora and fauna of Zombitse-Vohibasia.

 

© ecoTravel Africa 2011