Why visit Ranomafana National Park?
With picturesque waterfalls, majestic jungles and a spectacular range of endemic species of flora and fauna you might see nowhere else on the planet, Ranomafana National Park is one of the best tourist destinations that Madagascar has to offer. This national park, in the southeastern part of Madagascar, in Haute Matsiatra and Vatovavy-Fitovivany, is spread across 161 square miles and is one of the six national parks on the east coast of Madagascar that make up UNESCO’s World Heritage Site called the Rainforests of the Atsinanana.
Ranomafana in Malagasy means “hot springs”. You will find a large number of hot springs in this region. The Ranomafana National Park was established in 1991, after the discovery of the golden bamboo lemur in 1986.
The wet, misty climate of Ranomafana, with an average temperature of 14-20 degrees Celsius, even when the rest of Madagascar is sun-drenched makes it the ideal go-to place for a wildlife trip. The long drive to the Ranomafana village from the city of Tana is the perfect start to this one-of-a-kind experience.
You can find plenty of accommodation options from hotels to Eco lodges at the Ranomafana village. Despite being a remote village, Internet facilities are usually available here. Some of the good hotels here are Hotel Csoyannis, Three Palms Fianar, Setam Lodge, and many others. The park also hosts a number of campsites within the park for trekkers to stay.
Entry fees range from 25000 Ar for a one-day visit to 37000 Ar for two days and should be paid at the Park Office, at the entrance in the village of Ambodiamontana.
The Ultimate Trekking Experience
Ranomafana National Park offers the best African safaris in the continent. So, without wasting any time, walk over to the circuit counter and choose the circuit and trekking package.
You need to pay separate fees for the circuits, which depends on the circuit you choose and the number of participants. At an average, it will cost about 50000-80000 Ar for a day for a group of 1-5 participants. Some of the circuits that you can choose from are:
Varibolomena circuit: A 4-hour easy trek, passing by a majestic waterfall, spotting the golden lemur.
Sahamalaotra circuit: A 10 km trek through the forest spotting lemurs and birds mainly and reptiles and frogs, if at night.
Vohiparara circuit: A trek across the entire National Park for two days, spotting lemurs, birds and other animals and visiting a sacred lake.
Varijatsy circuit: 1 or 2 days trek across the forest looking for lemurs and birds and passing by a waterfall and a natural pool where you can take a bath.
Soarano circuit: 2 or 3 days hard trek (about 20 km) through the forest discovering many indigenous plants, lemurs and other animals. You will also be taken to a few traditional Tanala villages within the forest.
During the treks, you will be accompanied by a local guide and his wildlife “spotter”, who will help spot the different species of animals and birds you may come across on your way.
What you’ll find on your treks?
The main attraction here is undoubtedly, the spotting of the lemurs. The park is home to twelve species of lemurs. Some of the other mammals that you could come across are tenrecs, bats and some carnivorous such as Malagasy striped civet and some mongooses. Very often, the spotters rub banana paste on palm leaves and wait for the lemurs to approach so that tourists may take pictures at a close proximity.
Some of the common reptiles in this region are chameleons, snakes, frogs, satanic leaf-tailed geckos, butterflies, several fishes and crayfish. They come in all shapes, sizes and colors!
You will also find many bird species that are endemic to this park such as Rufous headed ground-roller, velvet asity, the threatened crested ibis and Henst’s goshawk.
All through the national park, you will come across a majestic species of palm known as Dypsis Catatiana.
Don’t miss out on these
If you’re a person who enjoys hikes, then you should definitely plan a trip to climb Mount Vatovavy, which is located outside the village of Kianjavato.
There are a number of natural water pools within the park where you are allowed to get into the water and have a good time. There is a sacred lake as well.
Also, go for a cultural visit to the Tanala villages, most of which are in the middle of the forest. It is quite fascinating to get to know about their age-old culture and traditional practices. You should try their traditional dishes made of pork and beef such as Romazava and Foza sy hena-kisoa.
While you’re at the village of Ranomafana, don’t miss out on the weekly markets for their artisan crafts sold.
Madagascar is rightly called as the “eighth continent” due to abundant biodiversity found here. So, if you are looking for the ultimate wildlife experience, then head over to Madagascar’s Ranomafana National Park.
PS: The best visiting months are May, September, October and November.
Author: E Jey
Just a passionate traveler who loves scribbling his expeditions @ www.jauntmonkey.com, www.outonroads.com, and www.blogthatall.com