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Andasibe and Mantadia National Parks
The Andasibe and Mantadia National Parks (also known as simply the Andasibe Mantadia National Park) are Madagascar’s most popular reserves. With two areas of damp montane forest, the variety of lemurs, birds, reptiles and invertebrates is astonishing, and the local guides are extraordinarily knowledgeable, making a visit here worth the time spent.
If you plan to spend time in just one national park of Madagascar, this should be the one you choose.
Andasibe National Park protects the largest lemur species, the Indri indri. These are about a metre high and have a tail that is so small it seems not to be there.
The black and white markings make it look like a very thin, strangely shaped panda, but all comparisons to the Chinese bears stop there. With one kick of their extremely powerful legs, they can propel themselves ten metres in the air, and they perform some incredible acrobatics in the air if they decide to change direction mid-flight. Every visitor to the park is guaranteed to see one, and the noise they make is so unusual that it will stay with your for life; instead of a grunt or short exclamation, they sing in a strange wail that carries for up to 3 km.
There are eight other species of lemur in the park, but you are not guaranteed to see them all as some are nocturnal, whilst others hibernate in the cold season.
Other animals in the park are huge numbers of insects and spiders, as well as many reptiles such as snakes and chameleons.
For bird-watchers this is a good place to come, with specials including the velvet asity, blue coua and nuthatch vanga.
Mantadia National Park makes a bit more of an exclusive trip, especially as the trails through the park are extremely rugged and only for the brave! The variation in altitude is greater than in Andasibe, and so the number of different species of animals is greater. The wonderful thing about the park is that because it is so wild, many of the reptiles, mammals and birds that you see will be species that few other people may have seen. Two types of lemurs that are fairly easy to see are the golden-coloured diademed sifaka and an indris that is darker than that found in the sister park.
Bird-watching here is even better than in Andasibe, with scaly ground-rollers, pitta-like ground-rollers and red-breasted coua being some of the more desired species.
A waterfall and a lake in this park also provide a place to take a refreshing swim in the waters below the waterfall, an experience which is an exciting and unforgettable way to cool down in the hot sun. The hot springs of Ranomafana National Park are nearby and also make good swimming, whilst the park’s good lemurs and birds are key attractions.