Ankarafantsika National Park – “The kingdom of birds”
Ankarafantsika is the last refuge of several lemur and bird species, which makes the conservation of the Park so important.
The word itself means something like “thorny mountains”, which aims at the famous canyon of the park. Besides this, Ankarafantsika is called “the kingdom of birds“, because it offers various great possibilities to spot endemic birds. This major ecotourism site, and which covers more than 130 000 ha, is made up of several ecosystems: Ravelobe lake (60 ha) inhabited by herons and ducks, Ankarokaroka canyon and finally a dense dry semi-deciduous forest sheltering 129 species of birds of which 75 endemics, 8 species of lemurs, reptiles and batrachians. There are 11 very good maintained trails, which will enable a deep glimpse into the park’s ecosystems.
Ankarafantsika National Park, and especially the Ampijoroa area, is one of the best sites for first-time visitors to Madagascar. Accommodations are good and lemur-watching is easy. With a little bit of luck one can see all eight lemur species in an afternoon, an evening, and a morning. The mongoose lemur can sometimes be elusive, but only because it is very quiet, and it is important to have a knowledgeable guide to distinguish the two mouse lemur species which can easily be confused by beginning lemur-watchers. What is more, this is really the only site where one is likely to see Microcebus ravelobensis. Curious Coquerel’s sifakas (Propithecus coquereli) often come close to visitors, you can watch them easily and comfortable.
The Park is also one of Madagascar's finest birdwatching venues with 129 species (75 are endemic) such as the banded krestel, Rufous vanga, Van Dam´s vanga, Madagascar fish eagle. 10 frogs and 45 reptiles are found here, like Oustalett's, dwarf, horned and Rhinoceros chameleons, several vulnerable snakes, the extremely rare Madagascar big-headed turtle and even crocodiles around the lake.
The flora is rich as well. More than 800 species grow in Ankarafantsika National Park, with a high rate of endemism. Some significant species are the Cedrelopsis grevei, an odorous medicinal tree used, baobabs, palisander, wild vanilla, retendrika, crocodile tree, lohavato or the sakoanala tree, all of them endemic.
The Ampijoroa area within Ankarafantsika is also the site of the world’s most important captive breeding project for endangered Madagascar turtles and tortoises, including the ploughshare tortoise or angonoka (Asterochelys yniphora), the flat-tailed tortoise or kapidolo (Pyxis planicauda), and the Madagascar big-headed sideneck turtle or rere (Erymnochelys madagascariensis). The ploughshare tortoise is one of the most critically endangered tortoises in the world, and this is presently the only breeding site for it outside its natural range.
To learn to know the national park, we recommend to stay least two days. During these two days, you and your personal guide will hike and visit this beautiful park as much as possible since it’s huge and has different circuits.
You will see all the most important thing in the park, including such as: the great Lavaka of Ankarokaroka - a unique moon-like landscape, the result of massive erosion in the canyon (his circuit is especially striking at sunset); panoramic view on the Lavaka of Ankarokaroka formation and waterfall;
the Pachypodium Circuit - you discover the beautiful pachypodium plant with its yellow flowers that has adapted well to the dry region of Madagascar. It is typically found in sandy areas or environments in very dry climate in the deep south;
the Baobab Extension Circuit - this circuit starts at Lake Ravelobe, crosses secondary forest dominated by Raplafarinifera - Sandbox trees (Hura crepitans) which seeds are dispersed by fruit bursting - before reaching the majestic baobabs (Adansonia madagascariensis) which are endemic to Ankarafantsika. Birds: flycatcher, Madagascar magpie-robin, Madagascar bulbul, drongo. Reptiles: chameleons, snakes, lizards. Panoramic view of Lake Ravelobe with the opportunity to cross the suspension bridge;
Sailing on the Lake Ravelobe - Boat safari on the quiet, 60 ha large Lake Ravelobe. Nile crocodiles. Birds: osprey, herons, egrets, jacanas, morhens, Glossy ibis, African darter, wild ducks. Various aquatic plants).
2 Night walks. The Night walk is a highlight of the Park. Insight into the world of smaller nocturnal mammals, birds and chameleons at night (Grey mouse lemur (Microcebus murinus), Golden-brown mouse lemur (Microcebus ravelobensis), Milne-Edwards's sportive lemur (Lepilemur edwardsi).
Watch more photos about Ankarafantsika National Park here.