Madagascar's Tsingy de Bemaraha
the primeval mysticism of a mineral world
The spectacular mineral forest of Tsingy de Bemaraha is located near the West Coast of Madagascar. Tsingy is the Malagasy word for "walking on tiptoe." The mineral landscape is indeed like an almost impenetrable labyrinth of sharp and menacingly towering limestone needles. The entire protected area was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1990 and covers an area of 1,575 km². The Southern part (723 km²) became the National Park declared, during the Northern part a integral reserve forms, which may be entered only for research purposes. The integral reserve consists mainly of canyons, gorges, virgin forests, lakes and mangrove swamps, all showing an amazing diversity of fauna and flora. The rate of endemic species is about 85%, 47% are even locally endemic animals!
The famous "Tsingys" - A distinctive landscape
About 200 million years this unique landscape began to form. The seabed, made of limestone, was pushed up, creating a plateau that was hollowed out by the heavy rains and over the years took on its present form of tall limestone columns. The massif is formed in the east by the abrupt Bemaraha cliffswhich rise about 300 to 400 meters above the Manambolo Valley. The landscape here above the plateaus resembles a grassy savanna. Inside the deep gorges, on the other hand, the vegetation is very humid with small tropical forests and many liana plants. The western slopes of the massif rise more gently and are mainly covered by Dry deciduous forests, which are optimally adapted to the extreme climatic conditions. Also in the north, the limestone profiles describe rather gentle hills, while in the south extensive altitude formations extremely restrict access. In the midst of this difficult to access vegetation lies the beautiful gorge Manambolo, where you can see waterfalls, lemurs and beautiful virgin forests.
The rich flora and fauna of the mineral forest
In Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park live 11 species of lemurs. For this purpose are currently more than 100 bird species cataloged in the national park, including the endangered Madagascar osprey and crested ibis. Noteworthy, That each of the 45 reptile and amphibian species is endemic. Some important species that only Bemaraha provides the habitat conditions they need are the Madagascar Iguana, a locally endemic long-tailed lizard, and the Antsingy leaf chameleon.
Tour offers in Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park
Most visitors decide to spend 2 to 3 nights in this unique and special area. A visit to this unique national park can be integrated, for example, into various round trip offers. Thus, we offer trips that include some of the most beautiful natural attractions of Madagascar such as. The Tsingy of Bemaraha, Morondava and Andasibe National Park can be visited. Such a trip can be arranged in details according to your personal interests. In Tsyingy de Bemaraha National Park there are different hikes and tours that you can take advantage of:
Small Tsingy (Petit Tsingy): The tour lasts about 4 to 5 hours and takes you through a labyrinth of limestone over two impressive viewpoints.
Manambolo gorge: A canoe trip along the gorge combined with easier trails through caves with stalactites and stalagmites to the mystical family tomb of the Vazimba tribe.
Great Tsingy (Grands Tsingy): Probably the most rewarding half-day excursion in the park! It goes deep into the limestone forest and over several suspension bridges with the impressive karst formations under your feet. The trail is not technically difficult and is also suitable for children. However, you should definitely be free from giddiness!
Anjohimanintsy Tour: A two day hike with camping in the park. This tour is a combination of several shorter hikes across the Tsingy formations. The program includes a visit to an underground cave and spotting a variety of plants and animals that share the different ecosystems.
The park is only during the dry season open from May to November. It is not accessible during the rainy season from mid/late November to mid or even late May. The Grand Tsingy are even only accessible from June and can then be visited until November. Many dubious operators offer tours throughout the year and bring unsuspecting travelers thus unnecessarily in danger.
You can book serious tours in the Bekapoka park office arrange and also get detailed information about which areas of the park are accessible. The guides are very qualified, but unfortunately speak - if at all - only broken English. The entrance fee is 25,000 Ariary for one day and 37,000 Ariary for two days. The guide fees depend on the chosen route.
The journey to Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park
Getting to Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park is quite difficult. By car you follow the RN8 from Morondava to Belo sur Tsiribihina. Once you have managed to cross the river - this may take some time - drive north on a bad secondary road to the village of Bekopaka, which is located at the park entrance. If you are really lucky, you can make the drive from Morondava in one day. If you are traveling from Antananarivo, take the RN1 to Tsiroanomandidy and from there drive to Bekopaka on only moderate dirt roads.
A popular way to reach Belo sur Tsiribihina is, of course, the Tsiribihina river cruise which is often praised by other providers. For safety reasons, this tour is no longer recommended. Optionally would also come the Kanoe ride over the Manambolo in question
Within the national park there are three campsites, two of which are located on the north coast and one in the south. The sanitary facilities are very basic and are shared in all facilities. In Camp Manambolo the meals are really delicious and you can also rent tents there. It also impresses with a beautiful view and very friendly atmosphere. At Camp Croco the tents are large and comfortable. Also here are some showers with hot water and shared toilets. The restaurant serves very good food. The price for two people in a large tent is 40,000 Ariary. If you are considering a night at one of the campsites, you should find out in advance if it might be advantageous to have your own equipment. For those who prefer a good hotel, there is plenty of choice in Bekopaka.