Anjanaharibe-Sud Special Reserve – “Place of the Great God”
Little known and infrequently visited, the Anjanaharibe-Sud Special Reserve is one of Madagascar’s secret jewels. Nestled deep in the remote and rugged mountains of northeastern Madagascar, Anjanaharibe-Sud contains some of the last intact stands of virgin mid- and high-elevation rainforest left in the entire country. It is a place of outstanding beauty and solitude, a place that offers a glimpse into the primeval past.
The Anjanaharibe Massif harbors the most diverse ecosystems known in Madagascar. The mountainous terrain creates a wide range of microclimates for an astoundingly wide variety of plant and animal species. Altitudes in the reserve range from 500 m to the summit of Anjanaharibe-Anivo Peak at 2064m.
Access to this remote reserve is not always easy, but for those adventuresome travelers who take the time and make the effort, the rewards are great. A visit to Anjanaharibe-Sud is always a memorable experience.
Anjanaharibe-Sud is particularly significant for a number of reasons. Most importantly, it contains an unusually rich flora and fauna, including many rare and endemic species. It thus is a very high priority for biodiversity conservation. In addition, the mountains and forests here are central to the local residents’ rich cultural heritage: in Malagasy, Anjanaharibe (pronounced “an-dzana-hari-bay”) means “Place of the Great God.” In addition to its remarkable biodiversity, Anjanaharibe is home to many rare and unusual species of plants and animals which are found almost nowhere else. Three of these include the Takhtajania, the black babakoto (indri), and the simpona fotsy (silky sifaka).
Anjanaharibe-Sud Special Reserve is home to the northernmost populations of babakoto, or indri. Here, the babakoto show a nearly all-black coloration that is quite different from the indri found further to the south (for example at Andasibe-Mantadia). Babakoto live in small family groups and maintain communication between groups with haunting songs that can be heard miles away. Local people say the songs of the black babakoto in Anjanaharibe-Sud are different from those that live further south, but scientists still know very little about the babakoto in this region.
The simpona fotsy, or silky sifaka (Propithecus candidus), is a very rare and beautiful all-white lemur that is found only in the mid-elevation rainforests of the Anjanaharibe-Sud and Marojejy mountains. This is one of the most critically endangered primates in the world, with possibly only one hundred individuals left in the wild, and none at all in captivity. Its survival is directly linked to the preservation of the rich forests of Anjanaharibe-Sud and Marojejy on which it depends.
The Takhtajania (Takhtajania perrieri) is a “living fossil” — a very ancient species of tree that has been growing on earth since the days of the dinosaurs 120 million years ago. This small tree with large, aromatic leaves and small red flowers was one of the first flowering plants to evolve on earth and so is of great interest to scientists. It was first discovered and collected in 1909, but because it is so rare and the forests are so remote and dense, it was not found again until 1994. In fact, it was not until three years later, in 1997, that it finally was officially recognized as being the long-lost Takhtajania species.
Anjanaharibe-Sud offers an outstanding wilderness and cultural experience for those in search of rugged adventure. The reserve is open year-round. Although it can be rainy at any time of the year, the driest months are generally October and November, and April and May. For several years a camping site has been built inside the reserve, the camp Indri in the middle of the territory of one group of Indri and close to many others. It's a very friendly and nice place, close to the Andranomena river and the calls of the Indri will be heard in the heart of the rainforest to accompany your mornings.
If we consider than one day is a good timing to get there so it's the same for the way back, in this case it's good to spend at least two other days there to make 4 days/3 nights stay. Hiking in the reserve ranges from relatively easy to very strenuous, and includes several trails.
Watch more photos about Anjanaharibe-Sud Special Reserve here.