ANDASIBE & MANTADIA
ANDASIBE & MANTADIA (Best lemur experience)
The Andasibe and Mantadia National Parks (also known as simply the Andasibe Mantadia National Park), were founded in 1989 and are located just Southeast of the capital city, Antananarivo. Due to their close proximity to the capital and their good road structure, they are popular parks, which are open year-round.
The primary forests of Andasibe-Mantadia contain a dense humid montane forest covered with lianas, moss, tree ferns and over a hundred orchids species blooming between September and Januar. Other common plants include pandanus, ravinala palm-tree, tambourissa, bamboos and some precious wood species, like palisander and ebano.
Andasibe probably offers one of the best lemur experiences in the world and almost guarantees lemur sightings. It is the best place to spot the teddy bear-like Indri, given that there are a couple of families that have become habituated to humans! Indri’s are the largest living lemurs reaching up to 3 feet tall and are unique in being the only lemur with a short tail. Their eerie, yet beautiful call can be from over a mile away, while seeing them in the wild is an absolutely exhilarating experience. They live in small family groups and cannot survive in captivity. They are considered throughout Madagascar, but despite this they have become endangered due to deforestation of their habitat.
Besides the Indri, the park is home to another 13 species of Lemur, including the woody lemur, grey bamboo lemur, diademed sifaka, brown lemur, red mouse-lemur, red-bellied lemur, black and white ruffed lemur and even the elusive, nocturnal aye-aye.
Andasibe is also home to some wonderful reptile and amphibian species. Among it’s 50 reptile species are the enormous Parson’s chameleon and the tiny nose-horned chameleon, as well as the majestic infamous boa manditia. It also has over 80 species of amphibians, including a myriad of frogs. This is a bird watchers paradise, with over 100 bird species (many endemic), like the Madagascar yellowbrow, Madagascar baza, Madagascar wagtail or the Madagascar serpent-eagle, and also the velvet asity, blue coua and nuthatch vanga. It’s also home to hundreds of insects, including some extremely huge, and extraordinarily colorful butterflies.
Besides wildlife watching Andasibe-Mantadia National Park is great for a range of activities, depending on your fitness levels and how long you plan on staying. There are hiking circuits in both Andasibe and in Mantadia, to suit everyone.
If you are a serious hiker, enjoy a wilder, denser forest with older and taller trees, and not as many visitors, go to Mantidia. Trails here are extremely rugged and more varied, and not for the faint of heart! The variation in altitude (900 to 1200m) is greater here than in Andasibe (which is generally flat).
Sacred Waterfall Circuit (this is a cultural path passing through several holy places of the ancient inhabitants, it takes 2 hours), Rianasoa circuit (you will spot indris and see orchids as well as visit the sacred waterfall and a nature pool where you can take a bath, this circuit usually takes one or two hours), Tsakoka circuit (longer trail of 4 hours in which you will try to find more lemurs and other animals) and a night tour (1-2 hours), Belakato circuit (a harder trail going up and down while looking for indris and other species and passing by the waterfalls, around 3 hours).
The local NGO Mitsinjo has an office located just opposite to the Park entrance. This fabulous organisation manages the Analamazaotra Forest Station located just behind the office and offers some great opportunities for wildlife spotting and gives shelter to some habituated Indri families and other lemurs, as well as a range of chameleons and geckos. You can also enjoy some rewarding night walks here for a chance nocturnal lemurs (like the Aye-Aye), frogs and nocturnal reptiles.
Association Mitsinjo is a Malagasy organisation that started as a community initiative. Located in Andasibe Mitsinjo it works in conservation, nature-based tourism, environmental education, habitat management, and sustainable development. Apart from being less than the National Park, you entrance fee to this park, will also help to support several community projects.
The best place to stay during your time in Andasibe is the comfortable Vakona Lodge or Andasibe Hote