Mikea National Park. Madagascar’s Forgotten Forest
The Mikea forest region is home to nine species of lemurs – the highest diversity of lemurs of any forest in the Southwest region of Madagascar. It has incredible ecological traits and is home to some of the world’s rarest flora and fauna. The original habitat includes extensive areas of dense spiny bush (Euphorbia-didieraceae bush) interspersed with three species of baobabs, notably a stunted version of the largest, Grandidier's baobab.
Mikea National Park - is dense dry forest, sand and limestone, lakes, marshes and aquatic fauna, nocturnal and diurnal lemurs, local endemic fauna, and includes, among others Mangoky River, Manombo and Befandriana seasonal rivers, Ihotry and Namonty lakes. A terrain is flat so graded as easy. Walking around the otherworldly landscape created by the thorny Didiera trees (Octopus trees) is unforgettable. As you will venture out early, you are sure to see some of the endemic birds in the area such as Running coua, chabert and Sicklebill vanga. And deeper into the national park, you will can marvel at enormous specimens of the 'stunted' form of the gigantic Grandidier's baobabs: this is the same species that creates the famous 'Alley of baobabs' much further north near the town of Morondava.
The richness of the park is made up of 310 species of plants with 28% endemicity rate, 2 endemic families including 20 species classified IUCN and 6 endangered, 3 species of endemic baobab. 63 species of birds live in the Mikea forest, 58 of which are endemic to Madagascar, 9 species of lemurs, 8 species of micro mammals, 6 bat species, 65 herpetofauna species, 24 species of fish including 3 endemic.
The Park is about 120km north of Toliara (on the coast between Ifaty-Mangily and Morombe), in the semi-arid south-western region. As such, rainfall here is very low, with precipitation occurring generally only on a few days each February. For the rest of the year, climate is mostly warm to hot, sunny and dry. The park covers 184,630 hectares and is named after the mysterious, little known Mikea, among the few remaining people still practicing a hunter-gatherer lifestyle.
You can will visit a Vezo-Sakalava village and gain an insight into the culture of these semi-nomadic people, who trade with the mysterious and little known, hunter-gatherer Mikea people living in this area. If the head of one of the Mikea families who lives nearby is around, then you will be able to visit the family briefly. (This is never guaranteed however).
Aside from the otherworldly setting created by the spiny bush and baobab woods, there are kilometres of quiet, white sand beaches and rewarding sites for snorkeling.
Watch more photos about Mikea National Park here.