PROVINCE OF DIEGO SUAREZ
Parks such as the Ankarana are rare. Caves and fortresses of stones, real natural cathedrals formed by the tsingy !
An exceptional landscape, dating from the Jurassic.
The Ankarana was once highlighted by Ushuaia Nature, because the french explorator Nicolas Hulot passed his suspension bridge and climbed over his Tsingy by a rope system. The park has since enjoyed an aura of adventure and privacy. Even if this is to nuance, the park is one of the most beautiful in the country and in some of these areas you can feel the soul of an explorer.
It has two distinct routes to the west and east. Within these circuits you can choose others, depending on their duration or contents. It's always difficult to estimate which circuit to choose. The site of the Malagasy national parks will help you with the description of each circuit, as well as the staff guide of the hotels, who will take care to plan everything with you.
For my part, I chose not to miss out any adventure, and studied my schedule according to it. West and East, to hell with greed!
Here are some elements of decision :
- The East side is much easier to access than the West because it's located at the gates of many lodges.
- The Tsingy Rary, a karst relief representing one of the most emblematic landscapes of Madagascar, can be found in the West of Madagascar. Here they are gray, and a must seen...
- The East side is more difficult to access because you will have to find a 4x4. On the other hand, it attracts fewer people, so you have little chance of meeting (small) tourist groups. When I asked a park guide which area he preferred, he told me the east.
The Eastern circuit
Departure at 8am for the main circuit which includes the "loss of rivers", the "chasm", the "Tsingy Turret", the "Tsingy Rary" and the crossing of the Nicolas Hulot suspension bridge, with the bat cave (not included in small and medium). It lasts four hours.
Focus on the Tsingy :
Described as peaks, pinnacles, needles, crests or even as spines, the tsingy are boulders of sharp rock, sculpted by water that, rather than sink on the surface, has infiltrated the subsoil, most often limestone. The weather and the rain then gave them this particular relief. There are few places to observe these karst formations. Apart from those in Madagascar, there are some in China, Borneo and New Guinea (with other names).
The country has 4 exceptional sites where to discover them : the Bemaraha and the Ankarana (East), the Namoroka and the Red Tsingy of Diego.
Tsingy Turret, natural stone fortress
It looks like a cathedral.
The white bark of the baobabs seems wanting to burst the azure sky.
The Tsingy Rary
18,000 acres of sharp spurs from the seabed by a volcanic surge. The term comes from the Malagasy verb "mitsingitsingy" meaning “tiptoe”.
Talking about sensation, a bit of walking, no climbing, but the passage of the bridge can be quite impressive for people prone to vertigo, swinging above the void while walking on wooden planks…
And of course meetings with locals.
The loss of rivers
There are three of them, lost in them by swirling during the rainy season, where the water then rises very high. A spectacle that we can only imagine, since for obvious reasons of safety the park is closed during the heavy rainfall.
The long circuit ends with the bat cave.
The point of view from the entrance of the bat cave. Late afternoon light pierces through the trees.
The Western circuit
Located 35 km from the East entrance of the park. This requires the rental of a 4x4 vehicle to make the trip of 3h (6h for the round trip + the visit: so plan the day). Warning, if no vehicle is available in the area, it will come from the city of Diego Suarez and the price will be affected. In addition, take care that it's at your sole disposal (or possibly share with tourists met at your hotel).
Departure at 7am. 4 to 5h walk on site.
A panorama at 120 meters high, a canyon, caves, including that of the potholes. A quiet place where it's good to cool off the heat of this October day.
Expected return around 4:00. Unfortunately, due to a dirty trick from our 4x4 driver and the traffic jam, we were not able to visit the rest of the West Park.
Our lodge. Chez Laurent, at the east entrance of the park. Bungalows simple but comfortable, mosquito nets, restaurant on site, but power cuts at 23h and very early alarm possible due to the noise of the generator.
Budget. Hotel and meals : 37 € per person for 2 nights.
Here, as in all the parks of the country, entry and guidance are obligatory and paid.
Entrance to the park (East or West): 17 €/ pers taxes included. So to multiply by 2 if you want to make the 2 circuits.
Guidance East: 17 € the average circuit, 23€ the big one, but to be divided by the number of people. Tip: partner with other tourists to share the same guide.
Le Guidance West: Great circuit: 23 €
Our 4x4 vehicle for this circuit: 12€/pers
If, like us, you are interested in exploring both areas of the park, negotiate the guide + the 4x4 vehicle with your guide.
Equipment. You will need good hiking shoes (no flip-flops can resist to the Tsingy Rary lol), a headlamp (if your circuit includes caves), and at least 3 bottles of water per person. The guide will arrange to order your sandwiches for lunch.