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Hiking

Madagascar fabulous landscapes invite to explore the country on foot. The hiking and trekking possibilities are innumerable and reach from easy walks until multi day trackings through a breath taking mountain scenery. Here a few “not to be missed” multi day trekking tours (from Northeast to Southeast), but of course these suggestions are not exclusive, since the range of possibilities is much more wider.

  • Marojejy National Park
Located in the rainforests of North Eastern Madagascar between the present-day towns of Andapa and Sambava, Marojejy is one of the most strikingly beautiful cloudy forests of the country. At present, only one trail in Marojejy is maintained and open to tourists.  This trail leads from the village of Manantenina to the summit of Marojejy (2.132 m).  Three camps are situated along the route; all consist of several bungalows (furnished with mattress, blankets, and pillow), along with covered eating area, well-equipped kitchen, shower and toilet.  Distances between camps are relative short, permitting a reasonably comfortable trek up the mountain (although the trail is steep and strenuous at the higher elevations).
The association travel.marojejy.com offers adventurous trekkers its support if they would like to organise expeditions into this remote part of Madagascar. Its is also an excellent information's point for trekkers wanting to explore the coastline of the Masoala Peninsula (see below).
Marojejy National Park

 Trail in the beautiful Marojejy National Park
© Madagascar Travel Guide

  • The Masoala Peninsula

The Masoala National park accessible from the town of Maroantsetra stretches to the ocean over 230 000 ha of primary. Ten species of lemurs have been found there, among them the elusive ginger Vari with its flaming coat. The wide realm of birds and Masoala unique fauna species make this far spot of Madagascar really worth the visit. A trek around the Masoala Cape, following trails along the beaches, through the forests, past the marine reserves, leading clear to the town of Maroantsetra, is a fantastic opportunity to discover one of the world’s most beautiful tropical paradises.  From better known places, like Tampolo, to the numerous remote, small coves, this is a place of absolute serenity in an idyllic setting. Travelling by pirogue or boat is practically unavoidable. Some easy trails and camping infrastructures have been laid out in the special reserve of Nosy Mangabe, Ambatoledama, at Cap East and at all three marine parks. The hard trekking from Maroantsetra up to Antahala via Cap East can take 8 days. Weather gear is essential, as this region is reputed to be one of the most rainy of the whole country.

  • Ankarana national park

Ankarana massif is surely the most rewarding hiking destination in the northern part of the country nearby Diego Suarez. It is fortress of limestone tsingy, patches of dense tropical jungle, dry forest, deep caves and rushing rivers. Getting into the centre of the park requires a guide and tough trekking in high temperatures, but is richly rewarding. Because of its seclusion, the reserve has been unaffected by the deforestation that affects much of the rest of the country. As a result, wildlife is everywhere.

The best point to arrange a visit to this intact part of Madagascar is from Diego Suarez. Camping at least two nights is necessary to reach the core of the reserve. There is a campsite at the entrance, but very little else in the way of facilities, so visitors need to bring in all of their food and equipment. The best time of year to visit is during the dry season, from April to November.

Tsingy de Bemaraha
Hanging bridges: the attraction of
Tsingy of Bemaraha National Park
©
Madagascar Travel Guide
  • Bemaraha national park
Declared as World Heritage by UNESCO in 1990, Bemaraha, in the remote Western of the country, offers some of the most spectacular tsingy (limestone pinnacles) of the country, which make it to a worthwhile destination during the dry season despite its inaccessibility. Millions of years ago, these mountains were engulfed in the sea, where corals and shells piled up and knit together to form a 200 m thick an immense plate. As the water withdrew, the rain started its long eroding work on the surface of the free limestone, which formed the joints and canyons we know today. There are several trails which cross the park and lead to the most rewarding panoramic points where the spectator can admire the impressive scenery. The park is easly accessible form the nearby twon of Bekopata, though we recommend at least one night camping, which allows to flee from the visitors crowds.
  • The highlands south from Tana

The region of the highlands offers a number of magnificent places scattered in the hills which are accessible only on foot. In Antsirabe rewarding hiking tours organized by the association Ravaka will immerse the visitor in rural daily life. The trekking two day tour “Country people of the Highlands forms a loop which starts from the west of Antsirabe to the encounter of the rural population in an environment of medium high mountains.

In Ambalavao the mountain of Ambondrombe, 45 km to the east, deserves a special mention.  Nicholas Nast, who worked in the field of sustainable tourism, has developed several proposals which include the climbing of the mountain, the visit of villages specialized in traditional silk weaving, a Manambolo steep-sided - nature tour with bivouac; valley, tombs perched on cliff sides, view over the forest of Anja, a route to the gold mines and fortifications of ancient reigning etc. (See under the section “community tourism”).

  • Andringitra Mountains

Andringitra, at an altitude ranging from 650 to 2658 m, is one of the biological hotspots of Madagascar and a worldwide recognized climbing and hiking spot. The park comprises rocky mountains of granite and gneiss, with a number of summits culminating at over 2500 m, and in between stretch mountain prairies.

There are different routes for hiking friends here: Asaramanitra tour, a 6 km route with a sacred cascade and caves. The Diavolana tour, a 13 km route which opens into a lunar landscape. The Imaitso tour, a 18 km loop with rare lemurs and birds. The Isahavato tour, a 15 km tour with rare palm trees, and natural swimming-pool. The Imarivolanitra tour, a two day trekking which leads to the summit of Peak Boby.

Andringitra National Park
Lunar landscape: only a few endemic plants can survive here
© Madagascar Travel Guide
  • Isalo mountains

The best way of understanding the Isalo mountain world, its canyons, cliffs, gorges and other striking geological features, is of course on foot. There are various routes to follow in company of a park ranger. The Tsimaso tour is focused on caves and swallow holes. The Andalamaike tour shows the various ways of vegetation adjustment to harsh weather and soil conditions. The Emande tour is great for watching lemurs and enjoying the scenery surrounding the lake. The natural swimming-pool is an easy tour, very much enjoyed by hikers. The Namaza tour leads from deep gorges to the Blue Swimming-Pool or the Black Swimming-Pool. The Canyons of Rats and Makis tour is a sportive route to the kingdom of the last king Barabe Ramieba, where you can discover a lush vegetation and watch groups of lemurs. The cave of the Portuguese and Sahanafa tour is adequate for hikers in good condition. The Malaso tour is an easy trail which covers the whole southern part of the park.

  • Andohahela

Located in the region of Tolagnaro, this national park has an extraordinary variety of ecosys- tems due to the proximity of the mountainous chain of Anosy. The eastern tropical and humid forest changes into a dry forest to the West and south with an intermediate area with little rainfall but with the benefit of several rivers from the mountains. More than 90% of the plants from Andohahela are used in traditional medicine, like the Jabihy which is used for the quick recovery of young mothers as well as for embalming corpses! The species of iguanas found here are only encountered in America, which proofs the continental drift. This is a still little known park with lots of hiking possibilities.

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