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Ranomafana National Park
Ranomafana National Park is famous world-wide for being the place that the golden bamboo lemur was discovered. It has some of the finest hot springs in Madagascar and an incredible wealth of wildlife that causes many visitors to the park to ignore the springs completely.
The drive to the Ranomafana National Park is an incredibly scenic one, with dry highland vegetation changing to greenery and flowers, with the Namorona River coming into view, and then the change from hillside to virgin forest that shows the reserve is close.
Walking through the forest itself is an experience; there are plenty of paths to choose from, with short ones if you are keen to fit other activities in, or a long one which will take 6 to 8 hours, but it’s worth it to see the different types of forest. Ordinarily one will only see secondary forest, but on the longer routes you’ll go into the primary forest which has thicker vines, larger trees and a quieter atmosphere due to the greater age of the trees.
Twelve species of lemur live in the trees, and more than 100 species of birds make their home here with 36 of these endemic to the country. These are the diademed sifaka, red-bellied brown lemur, red-fronted lemur, black-and-white ruffed lemur, mouse lemur, woolly lemur, leplemur, greater dwarf lemur, aye-aye and three different species of bamboo lemur. The reptiles, butterflies and other insects are also outstanding. One of the best things about this park is that the different vegetation and scenery make it extremely interesting to walk through, even if there were no wildlife in the park. You can also swim in the crystal clear waters of the Namorona River.
For a bit of a difference, it is also possible to do a night viewing to see the nocturnal animals at a viewpoint called the Belle Vue; mouse lemurs, red-bellied lemurs and civet are attracted by a meal that is put out for them, and this is the only way in which you will see these types so it is worth the effort.
The thermal baths are just the right temperature, and are a relaxing way to spend the afternoon. It is possible to get a massage here, and also to have a night swim with a poolside barbecue with ice-cold beers.