Nosy Hara archipelago Marine National Park. an idyllic place, cut off from the world
The Nosy Hara archipelago off the northern tip of Madagascar is made up of about 12 small islands surrounded by coral reef, making it a popular site for swimming and snorkeling. All are of unique Malagsy 'tsingy' ecotype, made up of cliffs and crags of weathered limestone. Four of the islands, Nosy Hara, Nosy Lakandava, Nosy Anjombovola, and Nosy Andranzara, have forest as well, growing up and upon the cliffs and crags, and inhabited by endemic birds, frogs and lizards. Among them a pair of the endemic and endangered Madagascar Fish Eagles, one of the rarest birds of prey in the world.
Nosy Hara lays inside the Baie du Courrier (Courrier Bay) in north Madagascar, 30 kilometers from Cap d'Ambre. It is part of the region Diana. The name of this national park means as much as “mountainous island”, “hara” comes from Malagasy “harana” which stands for mountains. It refers to the needle stone formations that form the characteristic face of Nosy Hara. Nosy Hara has been under some kind of protection for many decades. The local Malagasy people, mainly Sakalava, think of their islands as fady, which means sacred or taboo.
Nosy Hara is a little bit of paradise still little known. It is one of the most extraordinary seascapes in the world. This has earned it the status of national marine park since 2012. It is an idyllic place, cut off from the world. The site is a real giant and natural aquarium. The fauna and flora are surprisingly rare. Nosy Hara contains 279 species of coral fish, 108 species of corals, 5 species of sea turtles, whales (migrants) and dolphins, 31 species of birds, and 18 species of reptiles including brookesia micra, The smallest chameleon in the world. There may also be 2 species of baobab.
If you get yourself into the adventure and nature of Nosy Hara, you will learn to know Madagascar from one of its most beautiful sides. Madagascar velvet geckos (Blaesodactylus boivini), Pantherchamäleons (Furcifer pardalis) and fish scale geckos (Geckolepis ssp.) climb trees and rocks, Madagascar fish eagles (Haliaeetus vociferoides) search the island for prey from the blue sky. The Madagascar ground boas (Acrantophis madagascariensis) living here are often curious enough. In 2015, scientists discovered dwarf lemurs in the dry forest, that could not been assigned to any existing species. Probably these inhabitants of Nosy Hara are an undescribed new species – and there are many more!
Birds in the area include such representatives as the Malagasy paradise fly-catcher, large Green Pigeons, small Button Quails and many more within the forests. Along the coast and the cliffs, the rare endemic Madagascar fish eagles, Halieutees vociferoides can occasionally be seen, as well as such species as the Dimorphic egret and the Gray Heron. In December, tens of thousands of graceful Sooty Terns flock to nest on the islands of Nosy Vaha and Nosy Fotsy.
The flora is exceptional as the fauna, with baobabs, and pachypodiums, bizarre succulents clinging to the rock faces, and large pungent flowers. At the start of the rainy season in December, bright patches of color burst out of the green canopy, splashing it with red and purple.
Finally, although the terrestrial biology of the islands is without a doubt exceptional, there is little question that the marine biology is even better. The WWF Marine Programme Advisor described the coral reefs as representing some of the highest biodiversity he had ever seen.
Snorkeling is popular with many tourists. one of the best places in the world to snorkel is at the Nosy Hara archipelago. Swim alongside manta rays and sea turtles. For visitors, this area is a wonderful way to experience the beauty of Madagascar. The Indian Ocean is a temperate 27 degrees all year round and the crystal clear waters teaming with colorful sea life is inviting to those who interested in exploring the mysteries of the ocean. It’s an easy, inexpensive way to get up close and personal with some of the inhabitants of the coral reefs of Madagascar.
Snorkeling is so easy, anyone can do it. Take a loved one and spend the day in water, up close with sea turtles, manta rays and even harmless sharks. The great thing about snorkeling is that almost anybody can do it. There are no expensive courses or equipment required. You just pop on a mask and you are ready to see clownfish and eels swimming alongside you! It is estimated that 95% of the world’s coral reef will be dead by 2050. Do yourself a favor and go and visit the Nosy Hara Archipelago, take some snorkels and make a day of exploring this magical sight!
Northern Madagascar is hot and despite the close sea rather dry. Due to the coastal location of Nosy Hara, it is sometimes not reachable during rainy season, when cyclones and rough sea stop boats from driving there. During dry season, you should know that temperatures usually reach 30°C and more. In the night, temperature drops only little – sun cream, much water and cool clothes are a must have her.
If you dare to visit Nosy Hara, you can expect one of Madagascar’s last real paradises. The Archipelago impresses not only with a dreamlike bays with sand beaches and turquoise blue sea, but also with its unique rock formations, the Tsingys. From the highest point of the Archipelago, you have a fantastic view over the sea and the steep cliffs, that surround the Archipelago.
Undisturbed by humans for centuries, Nosy Hara offers a completely unique, untouched nature.
Discover for yourself the Nosy Hara archipelago, a small paradise that nature offers us.