The National Park of Ankarafantsika (formerly known as Ampijoroa Forest Station) is one of the largest and last remaining areas of dense, dry, deciduous forests in Madagascar.
Ankarana Special Reserve is situated 110 kilometres southwest of Diego Suarez (Antsiranana). And covers an area of almost 1,350 square kilometres, consisting mainly of low and scrubby forest with savannah areas around Lac Ravelobe. The park is also the last refuge for a number of endangered and endemic species of lemur and birds, making Ankarafantsika’s conservation so important.
Despite being hard to get to and involving camping overnight, this is one of the most popular parks in Madagascar due to its fabulous scenery and friendly wildlife, which shows little fear of humans, and we recommend two to three nights here, to make the most of your visit. Ankarana is reached from Diego Suarez in the north, or from Ambanja in the south. Once inside the park the 30 kilometre track to the campsite is passable by four-wheel drive, but becomes impassable to vehicles after rain (November to April), when it can be still be reached by hiking the last 11 kilometres.
The reserve consists of a massif of limestone rising sharply from the grassy plains; a rocky outcrop eroded by subterranean rivers and rain forming a vast system of caves and canyons through the rock and producing razor-sharp limestone points called ‘tsingy’. This dramatically rugged terrain, and its cultural significance as a place of refuge and royal burial for the local tribe, has protected the wildlife from human influence.
Many habituated groups of lemurs live within the park, eight species of these fascinating and entertaining creatures have been observed here, including beautiful Coquerel’s sifakas and elusive mongoose lemurs. Rewarding night walks will reveal nocturnal lemurs; woolly, sportive, and mouse lemurs, the world’s smallest primate. Very rare, but present are Perrier’s black sifaka, western grey bamboo lemur and aye-aye. Also present are northern ring-tailed mongoose, fanaloka, fosa and several species of bat. Birdlife is equally well represented, including the rare brown mesite, Rufous vanga and the Madagascar fish eagle. Reptiles include Oustalet’s chameleon, white-lipped chameleon, two bigheaded geckos, two leaf-tailed geckos, Madagascar tree boa, and Nile crocodiles in the underground rivers. Botanically, Ankarafantsika’s flora is rich and varied with more than 800 species growing here.
The wildlife here shows little fear of humans and troupes of audacious lemur and ring-tailed mongoose come to steal food during camp meal times!
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