Tsingy de Bemaraha
Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park is home to the spectacular mineral forest of Tsingy de Bemaraha. It stands on the western coast of Madagascar.
Tsingy is the Malagasy word for “walking on tiptoes” and the nearly impenetrable labyrinth of limestone needles justifies this name. The whole protected area, designated a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1990, comprises a surface of 1.575 km².
Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park remote area was not a tourist trek until 1998, when the southern part (723 km²) was declared a National Park. The northern section is an Integral Reserve so tourists are not allowed to enter the zone.
The reserve’s canyons, gorges, undisturbed forests, lakes and mangrove swamps display an astonishing richness of fauna and flora which have not been completely recorded. The rate of endemism is about 85%, and 47% are even local endemic!
History of Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park
The limestone seabed rose to create a plateau around 200 million years ago. This took place little by little eroded by heavy rainfalls until it became its actual shape. This massif is delimited to the east by the abrupt Bemaraha Cliffs. This rises some 300 to 400m above the Manambolo River valley. It extends several tens of kilometres from north to south.
The western slopes of the massif rise more gently, and the whole western region of the reserve forms a plateau. This comes with rounded hillocks which slope away to the west.
To the north undulating hills alternate with limestone extrusions, while in the south extensive pinnacle formations make access extremely restricted.
In the south of Petit Tsingy is the spectacular Manambolo Gorge where you can see waterfalls, lemurs and magnificent untouched forests. Despite the inaccessibility of the area, this park is more and more part of tour operator programs.
The flora has a high local endemism rate. The western part is principally covered by deciduous dry forests, which are particularly well adapted to the extreme changing climate conditions of the area.
The eastern section is formed by grassy savannas and lowland bushes. Inside the canyons we find small areas of dense tropical forests and lianas, since it is very humid among the tall tsingy formations.
Flora and Fauna in Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park
Those on Tsingy de Bemaraha tour to this Madagascar National park can spot 11 lemur species. They include Decken's sifaka, red-fronted brown lemur, fat-tailed dwarf lemur and grey mouse lemur. Others are the Cleese's woolly lemur and the Sambirano lesser bamboo lemur, which only occur here.
Other resident mammals for those touring Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park are the small carnivorous falanouc and ring-tailed mongoose, and several bats.
More than 100 bird species have been catalogued at present inside the National Park, including the critically endangered Madagascar fish eagle and crested ibis, Madagascar wood-rail, giant coua or Coquerel´s coua.
The 45 reptiles and amphibians which are found here are all endemic. There are some significant species which only occur in Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park. They are the Madagascar iguana, a local endemic long-tailed skink and the Antsingy leaf chameleon.
Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park is only opened during the dry season from April to November. This is because it is inaccessible during the rainy season (mid-end November to mid-end May). The Grand Tsingy are only accessible between June and the beginning of November.
Accessing Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park
Going on Madagascar Safari to Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park is indeed quite tough. If you are travelling by car, follow the road RN8 from Morondava until Belo-sur-Tsiribihina. You will go across the river though this can take longer than expected!
Continue northwards along a bad secondary road until the village of Bekopaka where the Park entrance is. If you are really lucky you can manage the transfer in one day.
Starting in Tana, take the road RN1 until Tsiroanomandidy. Once here you can reach Bekopaka driving through very bad roads passing by the villages of Morafeno and Antsalova.
There is a daily taxi-brousse connection between Morondava and Belo-sur- Tsiribihina and several days a week another one from Belo to Bekopaka.
A popular way of reaching Belo sur Tsiribihina is of course, descending the Tsiribihina River. A much more straightforward way to reach the park is participating on an expedition on the Manambolo River. This will end directly on Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park.
You can also access Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park on a charter aircraft.
|Currency used||Malagasy Ariary|