Montagne des Francais reserve, a unique and exceptional area of adventure and discovery
The Montagne des Francais reserve (French Mountain) protects deciduous dry forest characteristic of the north of Madagascar. Much of the forest is on a calcareous massif that has been eroded into karst formations known locally as Antsingy. The forested area ranges of around 5,000 hectares and ranges in elevation from 100 - 450 meters above sea level. This mountain is thought to receive more rain than the surrounding area (Antsiranana receives approximately 1000mm precipitation annually) which explains the lush vegetation in an otherwise very dry bioclimatic zone.
Preliminary botanical and zoological inventories have been done that show these forests are rich in both fauna and flora and include a remarkable number of local and regional endemic species. In particular this is one of the best places to see one of the most beautiful baobabs, Adansonia suarezensis as well as an aloe, Aloe suarezensis, both of which are restricted to this area of northern Madagascar. Other locally endemic plants of interest include a spectacular flame tree, Delonix regia, the extremely rare Diegodendron humbertii that is the only representative of the family Diegodendronaceae and known from only a few dozen individuals, and Baudouina solleyformis, which is used locally as a traditional protection against witchcraft.
Zoological surveys to date have identified 19 species of amphibian, 52 reptile species, 56 birds and 21 mammals.
French Mountain is part of the larger Ramena protected area complex which also includes Orangea Reserve and the Ambodivahibe Marine Reserve.
The ascent offers superb views over the bay, and the prospect of good birding and sightings of Sanford's brown lemurs. Birds, lizards and even lemurs can surprise you and accompany you during this ascent which presents no major difficulty. There is a French fort and the only (non-rockclimbing) ascent possible are through dug-out worm hole tunnels which could be used to ambush enemy troops. At the top, the caves and vestiges of the colonial era await you. You can explore the canyon area and some caves. Then opens the magnificent panorama view of the bay in its entirety and its 156 km of coastline and onto the city, the Bay of Diego and its "Sugar Loaf", which are part of the very select "Club of the most beautiful bays of the world".
The French Mountain is a unique and exceptional area of adventure and discovery in a dry tropical forest: The best for trekking in the North of Madagascar! A multitude of circuits adapted to your level of the leisurely journey to the day to the most remote sporting adventures... We have many trekking tours and different difficulty.
The area of the «Ambohitra Antsingy» forest, also called French Mountain is among the best place for caves in the North! A Karstic Mountain digged one more than 15 kilometers will allow you to discover many caves, some of them for the first time!
Montagne de Francais is a popular spot for climbers. The cliffs and caves attract rock climbers. The site includes 180 channels ranging from 3 to 7c on 12 sectors, with very different grades of difficulty. Best climbing time is from June to November.
Almost equidistant between Ramena and Diego Suarez, the Montagne des Francais Reserve this dramatic massif lying just across the bay from Antsiranana (Diego) and adjacent to the popular tourist site of Ramena Beach.
The small traditional fishing village of Ramena closes the southern end of the Bay of the French. Its 3 km of white sand beach will delight fans of relaxation and bathing. A typical beach of coral sea, where the swimming does not present any risk: neither sharks, nor current, nor waves because the bay.
A trip to the nearby beach at Ramena is very recommendable. From here you can go on foot to Three bays:
*The Sakalava Bay is famous windsurfers. The Varatraza (trade winds) blows regularly during the dry season, making it a popular spot. There are installed a restaurant and a kitesurfing school and windsurfing.
*Bay dunes and Bay pigeons do succeed their white sand ribbons on the eastern coast of the peninsula. Uncrowded, yet untouched by any tourism project, they will appeal to lovers of calm and swim.
Watch more photos about Montagne des Francais Reserve here.