Madagascar's Zahamena national park:
An unknown place of the East
Zahamena was declared a national park in 1997. It is located in the eastern part of the island, about 70 km northwest of Tamatave and 25 km east of Lake Alaotra. The protected area has an area of 643 km², of which 423 km² belong to the national park. The rest is classified as Integral nature reserve catalogued and is therefore not open to visitors. Although the isolated location of this area has contributed to its preservation, the local population, made up of the folk tribes Sihanaka and Betsimisaraka consists, quite large and unfortunately represents an acute threat to the protected area in their way of life. The park is divided into a western and an eastern area and includes some villages of the mentioned ethnic groups. As large parts of the area have not yet been explored, currently several scientific expeditions, with the aim of developing the flora and fauna of Zahamena, takes place. The climate is humid with moderate temperatures and frequent rain throughout the year.
The high biodiversity of the Zahamena National Park
The landscape is very hilly. Several steeply sloping valleys are crisscrossed by rivers, some of which flow into the beautiful Alaotra Lake open into the forest. At the lower levels of the dense, moist evergreen forest, the trees reach a height of 15 to 20m. The middle levels are covered by shrubs and secondary forest with tree ferns and pandanus. In the highest areas we find humid forest covered with a dense mountain forest is comparable.
The Zahamena National Park is home to an incredibly High biodiversitywhich is even one of the highest in Madagascar: 45 mammal species live here, of which 13 Lemurs like diadem sifakas, black and white varis, indris, aye-ayes or the local endemic and endangered Reed lemurs from lake Alaotra. Total 112 bird species have been observed in the park, 67 of them are endemic to Madagascar, such as the Madagascar serpent eagle, the red owl, the crested ibis, the blue silky cuckoo or the helmet vanga. Apart from these there are 29 species From fish, 62 Amphibian and 46 reptile specieslike the large patterned Madagascar gecko in Zahamena. The flora is as rich as the fauna: at least 60 species of orchids, 20 palms- and more than 500 tree species grow in the national park and the integral reserve. It is more than likely that this listing will be expanded many times over in the near future.
Your visit to Zahamena: tours and arrival
Travelers from Antananarivo, drive the RN 2 in the direction of Tamatave. Take the turnoff in Moramonga on the secondary road RN 44which leads north via Ambatondrazaka to a village called Antanandava. From here it is only 8 km to the left until the Park entrance at Ankosy comes into view. However, this path is in very poor condition and can be only in the dry season be traveled between July and November.
So far you can use Zahamena in the context of Two tours explore. The fees are very low at 8,000 Ariary per day. The Ankosy tour takes you through the forest. On the way you will be able to observe numerous birds and lemurs and at the end with a incredible view over the Alaotra lake rewarded. The hike takes a whole day with a distance of 14km to cover. In the immediate vicinity of the lake is a Camping site, where you can rest before you start the way back the next day.
The Bemoara tour is a shorter hike and can be done in one day. It ends at a beautiful, 80m high waterfall. However, many visitors prefer to camp near the picturesque waterfall to enjoy the magnificent scenery and see some more wildlife on site. You can also combine both tours and spend three days and two nights exploring the treasures of Zahamena in the national park. In the surrounding villages there are some very simple accommodations where you can also spend the night. The park office is located in the park. There are a few guides who speak some English