Anja Community Reserve, the reserve is also known as “Rocky Park”
Welcome to Anja Community Reserve, a unique environmental and cultural preservation site in the south of Madagascar. It is an ideal ecotourist destination. Here you can easily see and photograph the ring-tailed lemur (Lemurian Catta), there are around 400 individuals in the reserve and they have grown accustomed to visitors so you'll get the chance to get relatively close. Anja's lemurs are famous for sunning themselves on the boulders (generally early in the morning).
This ecological reserve is a dry forest nestled at the base of three, large granite mountains. The reserve is impressive with staggering granitic boulders and green valleys. Its nickname is “Anja Park”. Due to its rocky character, the reserve is also known as “Rocky Park”. The rocky landscape mainly consists of granite, and is located at the feet of the “three sisters” (telo mirahavavy), a nearly 500m high rock formation, ringed at the base by a narrow forest full of ring-tailed lemurs. For centuries, the Betsileo tribe used many of the canyons and caves as shelter, and until 1930 years for graves of important personalities, too.
Although the area is relatively small, it today offers animals worthy of protection, which makes the reserve an attraction to travelers from all countries. The famous ring-tailed lemurs, several species of chameleons (among them Furcifer campani, the carpet chameleon Furcifer lateralis and the only here occuring Brookesia brunoi). There are 3 species of lizards in Anja: androngo or the Madagascar Girdled Lizard (Zonosaurus madagascariensis), Katasataka (Phelsuma barbouri), and Dangalia (Chalarodon madagascariensis). Lizards are often seen scaling the sides of the many rock faces in the forest. A few species of snakes live in the reserve, but the most spectacular is the Do or Madagascar Tree Boa (Sanzinia madagascariensis), an endemic snake to Madagascar. It is a mild animal, but can be dangerous if provoked. Don't worry, there are NO poisonous snakes found in Madagascar. Anja Park has other species of animals, often difficult to see. The “Ampaha” greatly resembles a domestic cat; most Malagasy call it Piso dia or Saka dia (wild cat) because it inhabits similar spaces, but is removed from the village. The Lowland Streaked Tenrec or Sora (Hemicentetes semispinosus), in Madagascar's only marsupial family, is nocturnal. There are also many species of birds in the reserve. 11 species of birds are officially protected by AMI.
Reserve has many types of plants from around the island, including many plants of the spiny deserts in the south, the central highland mountains, and the western dry forests. The plantlife in Anja Reserve is extremely diverse, including several families of saxicol plants and orchids. There is a species of orchids that has previously only been found at the top of one of the granite summits in Anja. Almost all plants in the reserve have medicinal properties. Despite western medicine and clinics quickly replacing traditional practices, the guides at the park retain a wealth of information based on traditional practices. If you are keen on seeing endemic plant species, make sure to indicate to our guide that you would like to go on a circuit that highlights the beautiful plant species of the reserve.
If you want to explore this area we recommend our longest guided hike, which lasts several hours - Large Circuit Loop is a six-hour hike to the top of the mountain. The large loop will allow a rest at the top of the mountain at 1400m, with a 360-degree view that includes Ambalavao 13km away. Only very few people do this long hike. It's amazing, like being directly in a Discovery Channel documentary! Past travelers enjoyed checking out Anja Community Reserve on foot. But no worries, there’s no need to bring climbing equipment, just remember to wear good shoes.
But there is and Small Circuit Loop, it will take two hours maximum. You will easily see families of ring-tailed lemurs, a variety of flora, two traditional Betsileo tombs and perhaps a natural cave or two. The Anja Reserve is actually the most visited ecotourism site in Madagascar. The never-ending train of tour buses easily makes that believable. Anja sees around 25 000 tourists a year, so you are unlikely to be alone at this Circuit, will be crowded, particularly from April to November.
Anja is also a rich cultural site, preserving ancient tombs from the previous two centuries. Family tombs located on the rock faces are in active use to this day, most are extremely difficult to access. Reserve also preserves anthropological evidence of humans in the forest during the time of the Betsileo monarchy. Before 1815, the forest served as a safe haven where around 200 people could support themselves on the food and water and be protected from invaders. In 1817, The Merina conquered the Betsileo kingdom of Anja. After the French invaded and conquered Madagascar, the people has establish villages, farms, and begin to pay taxes. Many of the same clans live in Anja today and are a part of the village association that protects the land of their ancestors.
Watch more photos about Anja Community Reserve here.