Manombo Special Reserve

Map Manombo Manombo Special Reserve is located 30km south of Farafangana, on the eastern part of Madagascar and was created in 1962. It covers a total area of 53 km² of lowland rainforest and marshlands partially turned into rice paddies, and a 5km long beach with littoral forest and huge dunes. The Reserve is divided into two differentiated areas by the National road R12 connecting Farafangana and Vangaindrano. Manombo protects typical but as usual threatened ecosystems of the Southeast of Madagascar, including some local endemic plants and frogs. It also has the biggest number of snail species of the whole island. 90 % of the flora and fauna found in Manombo is endemic to Madagascar!

The forests of Manombo offer a habitat to 7 different lemur species, such as the black-and-white ruffed lemur, the extremely rare white-collared brown lemur, which is extremely hard to see, brown mouse lemur, Eastern and Lesser woolly lemurs and sportive lemur. Other mammals found here are the very rare web-footed or aquatic tenrec (the only semi-aquatic mammal of Madagascar), eastern falanouc, ring-tailed mongoose, red forest rat or the fossa.
58 bird species have been observed within Manombo, such as the Madagascar pond-heron or the cuckoo roller.

Madagascar frog
   Beautiful tree frog on a leaf  © j_fi

This lowland humid forest, typical of the eastern region, shelters also 10 reptile species, such as Madagascar crocodiles, some endemic green-blue geckos and; 12 amphibians, among them several rare frogs such as Bernhard's mantella (an extremely rare poisonous frog which only occurs here) and some freshwater endemic fishes discovered in 1994!.
Apart from this, there are 52 different land snail species in the reserve, many of them local endemic.
In October humpback whales pass near by the coast and hundreds of sea turtles lay their eggs on the beach at night.

The flora of Manombo is specially varied and, the same as the flora, with a high rate of endemism. Even some entire families growing here are endemic, such as the Sarcolaenaceaes, the Asteropeiaceaes, the Physenaceaes, and the Sphaerosepalaceaes.
Some significant species are the Fatsinakoho (Humbertia madagascariensis), a huge tree that only grows in this area, hintsy forest, and more than 50 different palm trees. From June to August, visitors can enjoy the spectacle of the orchids blooming.

The main ethnical groups living next to Manombo Reserve are the Betsileo, the Vakinankaratra, the Antemoro, the Antesaka, the Antefasy and the Zafisoro. They live from fishing, cattle, agriculture and handcraft (specially traditional baskets made of palm leaves). As they are dependant of the natural resources to survive, these human activities together with illegal tree falling, bush fires and poaching are the main threat to the vulnerable forest of Manombo. black and white ruffed lemur
Black-and-white ruffed lemur  © Antony

The Reserve is easily accessible during all the year, since the main road R12 just passes by and divides literally Manombo in two parcels.  Manombo lies on the half way between Farafangana and Vangaindrano, where the road ends.
If you are travelling by your own, there is a daily taxi-brousse connection from Fianarantsoa to Farafangana and once here another daily route until Vangaindrano. Just ask the driver to drop you out at a village called Bemelo, where the entrance office is.   

The climate is humid with frequent showers and warm temperatures all the year around. Visitors should avoid coming to Manombo during the cyclone season from December to February, since this coast is regularly hit by them.

There are currently no circuits available, but you can contact to some local guides who will show you the different ecosystems, flora and fauna of the Reserve. Visitors can also make a pirogue excursion to meet the crocodiles on the Manatsimba River and to visit the beautiful Rianambo waterfall  and the natural swimming-pool outside the reserve and take a bath on the lonely beach of Takoandra.

It is possible to camp inside the reserve with very basic facilities (bring your own tent and equipment), but most visitors stay at Farafangana, where there are several hotels, bungalows and restaurants.

The entrance fees are paid at the Reserve Office in the village of Bemelo, where you can arrange a local guide for your visit.

If you want more information in advance you should contact the ANGAP Office at Fianarantsoa:

Madagascar National Parks in Fianarantsoa
BP 1363 Antsorokavo  Fianarantsoa
Tél : + (261 20) 75 512 74 / (261 32) 07 595 26
Email : angapfnr@mel.moov.mg angapfnr@yahoo.fr