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Zahamena National Park

Map Zahamena

The Zahamena National Park, created in 1997, is located on the eastern part of the island, 70km northwest of Tamatave and about 25 km east from Lake Alaotra. The protected area has a total surface of 643 km², from which 423 belong to the National Park, and the rest is catalogued as Integral Natural Reserve and therefore not opened to visitors. Although the isolated location of this area has helped to its conservation, the actual human pressure of the Sihanaka and Betsimisaraka populations constitutes the main threat to Zahamena.  The climate is humid, with moderate temperatures and showers all year around. 

The park is divided into two areas (the western and the eastern one), which are partially separated by a corridor that includes several villages. It is still a very little known area, and naturalists are currently carrying out surveys to improve the scientific knowledge of the biodiversity found here.

The landscape is very hilly, with several steep-sided valleys drained by rivers, some of them flowing into Lake Alaotra. At lower altitudes the thick humid evergreen forest has a 15-20 m high canopy. The medium levels are dominated by bushes and secondary forests covered with tree-ferns and screw-pines called Pandanus. On the highest areas we find humid forest passing onto a dense montane forest.

Zahamena National Park shelters an incredibly high biodiversity, in fact one of the highest of the Madagascar
There are 45 mammal species, 13 of them are lemurs, such as diademed sifaka, black-and-white ruffed lemur, indri, hairy-eared dwarf lemur, aye-aye or the local endemic and endangered Lake Alaotra bamboo lemur.
diademed sifaka
   Diademed sifaka © Gail Johnson
A total of 112 bird species have been observed within the park, 67 of them are endemic to Madagascar. Zahamena offers the largest protected area for endemic bird species in Madagascar. Some emblematic species are the Madagascar serpent eagle, red owl, red-tailed newtonia, crested ibis, brown mesite, blue coua, velvet asity or helmet vanga.
Apart from that, there are 29 species of fishes, 62 of amphibians and 46 reptiles, like the Madagascar big eyed gecko.

The flora is as rich as the fauna: at least 60 orchid, 20 palms and more than 500 woody plants grow within the National Park and the Integral Reserve.

To reach this still less visited area, take the main road RN-2 in Tana towards Tamatave and change at Moramonga to the secondary road RN 44 which goes northwards passing through Ambatondrazaka until a village called Antanandava. From here there are only 8 km left until the Park entrance at Ankosy, although this terrible path can only be driven during the dry season between July and November. You can also walk for a couple of hours and enjoy the scenery.

There is also a taxi-brousse connection between Antananarivo and Antanandava changing in Ambatondrazaka.

So far two circuits have been arranged to explore Zahamena. Fees are 8,000 Ar per day.
The Ankosy circuit goes through the forest to spot lemurs and birds and passes by a natural pool, ending with an incredible view over the Alaotra Lake. The trek takes one whole day (14 km), so a camping place is available next to the pool to stay overnight.

The Bemoara circuit is another trek through the forest which ends at a 80m high waterfall. This trail is much shorter, but visitors normally camp by the waterfall to enjoy the terrific scenery and spot some more wildlife.
You can combine both circuits and spend three whole days and two night exploring the treasures of Zahamena.

There are some very basic accommodations in the nearby villages Vavatenina and Ambatondrazaka as well.

The Park Office is located at Antanandava. There are a pair of guides who speak some English.

Parc National Zahamena
BP 38, Sahavola – 509 Fénérive-est
Phone: + (261 20) 57 300 24 / (261 33) 07 666 12
Email : tmv.parks@gmail.com quy@ifrance.com