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Tsingy de Bemaraha National park – The Labyrinth of the Stone Forest

Consists of the throat of the river of Manambolo, the intact forests, the lakes and the mangrove swamps, the dense and dry forests, and the tsingy which make the fame and the magnificence of the site. "Tsingy" is points of sharp, high and ripped limestones.

The history tells that 5 million years ago, the vast limestone plate knew a river erosion which thus worked this spectacular landscape of peaks, faults and cracks that the “tsingy form”. Two rivers dominate the tsingy: Saohany and Manambolo. Manambolo River is the starting point of the descent in the dugout. This massif is delimited to the east by the abrupt Bemaraha Cliffs, which rises some 300 to 400m above the Manambolo River valley and extends several tens of kilometers from north to south. The western slopes of the massif rise more gently, and the whole western region of the reserve forms a plateau with rounded hillocks which slope away to the west. To the north undulating hills alternate with limestone extrusions, while in the south extensive pinnacle formations make access extremely restricted. In the south of Petit Tsingy is the spectacular Manambolo Gorge where you can see waterfalls, lemurs and magnificent untouched forests. Despite the inaccessibility of the area, this park is more and more part of tourist programs.

Attractions of the park remain centered on the discovery of its “tsingy”. Walks are the best to explore the interior of the park and to appreciate the nature and breathtaking landscape while visiting the park, so unique, that UNESCO classified it as part of World Heritage in 1990. The site is very well arranged that active people will be pleased to involve themselves during tsingy climbing… We can say that everyone can find its happiness there. Botanists, ornithologists, speleologists, photographers, lemur lovers, active people will not be ready to forget this adventure of the century. For every one’s interest, various trails were established.

The unusual geomorphology of the Tsingy de Bemaraha World Heritage Site, which encompasses both the National Park and the adjacent Strict Nature Reserve, means that the Site is home to an exceptionally large number of endemic species of plants and animals that are found only within extremely small niches within the tsingy. For example, the summit, slope, and base of a tsingy’s limestone needle form different ecosystems with different species clinging to their exceptionally steep slopes.

Despite barren appearance, the maze-like stone forest is home to an unbelievable variety of animal species, which you wouldn’t assume in such a region on first sight. Next to the biggest mammal predator of Madagascar, the fossa, live 13 types of lemur, including for Decken's sifaka, red-fronted brown lemur, fat-tailed dwarf lemur, grey mouse lemur or the Cleese's woolly lemur and the Sambirano lesser bamboo lemur, and over 100 bird species,  including the critically endangered Madagascar fish eagle and crested ibis, Madagascar wood-rail, giant coua or Coquerel´s coua. Inside the caves live about 15 bat species. From time to time, you can watch them even in the daytime. Reptile friends won’t be missed out either in the Tsingy de Bemaraha: These scaled animals are well represented with about 60 species next to several amphibians. Some rare Malagasy tortoises only live inside this region and nowhere else. You’ll only find them with a big portion of fortune, as well as the either rare pygmy chameleon Brookesia perarmata.

As in nearly all of Madagascar’s national parks, over 85% of Tsingy de Bemaraha’s fauna and flora is endemic. About 650 different plant species got their home here.  You can admire succulents like the famous bottle trees or beautiful orchid all around the park. Rare plants lovers will appreciate and will be under the charms of the various adaptation forms like: plants which do not have leaves but only thorns in their place to limit the water loss, the trunks of the shrubs are large to be able to store water, several dwarf vegetations, of the large trees such “Dalberdia sp, Commiphora sp, hildegardia erythosiphon”, of the fatty plants, euphorbiums and kalanchoe, of pachypodium and the fig trees. The baobab trees shouldn’t be omitted as it is very current in this Western part of the country.

The road hither lasts a little long but the landscape which it offers is worth the pain. The way goes through Belo sur Tsiribihina, a very convivial typical village where the population is cordial and the site quite charming. By the waterway via Ankavandra. It is a tour in the dugout along the Manambolo river Rowing and camping are within the program lasting at least three days. Washing in the natural swimming pools, tents are pitched on sand banks which give all the benefit to star gazing during the night and real nature which will not cease filling you. Lastly, by private chartered planes, small planes can land at the nearby small runway.

Experiencing the Tsingy during the usual heat surely is a challenging mission, but it’s worth it for the versatile, fantastic experiences in any case! Generally most visitors coming to the park usually stay over three nights to explore this unique and amazing place.

Watch more photos about Tsingy de Bemaraha National park here.