Andringitra National Park
The Andringitra National park is found in south central Madagascar. It is home to the Andringitra mountains, a granite outcrop in south-central Madagascar. It is characterized by high mountains, deep valleys, and ridges.
Explorers in the early twentieth century recognized the ecological importance of the massif and, in 1927, the central part of the mountain range was declared a Strict Nature Reserve.
However, the area was little known to outsiders until the early 1990s when the Malagasy Environmental Action Plan was introduced and the Andringitra National Park was established.
Over an area of 311 km² is subdivided into three ecosystems: low altitude rainforest, mountain forest and high altitude vegetation. The park is located in the Fianarantsoa Province of Madagascar, 47 km south of Ambalavao.
Biodiversity in Andringitra National park
Andringitra National park is also one of the most biologically diverse and endemic places in all of Madagascar.
The Andringitra National park has over 100 different species of birds, over 50 species of mammals including 13 of lemurs, (ring tailed lemur are quite frequent).There are 55 species of frogs and more than 1,000 plants are known to inhabit the park.
Its highest elevation is Pic Boby, 2.658 m high, is the second highest summit in Madagascar standing out as prominently above the barren lunar plain.
It is also an important central link in the longest unbroken chain of rainforest remaining in Madagascar, which stretches 180km from Ranomafana National Park in the north connecting to Pic Boby in the south
Culture Around Andringitra National park
There are three cultural groups living within the boundaries of the park. Each one has its own identity and value system and is adapted to the local habitat.
The tropical forests to the east host the ethnic group of the Bara Haronga, whose main subsistence crop is the rice.
Betsileo tribe lives in the northern foothills of the massive and has developed an irrigation system for rice cultivation on the mountain flanks.
The Bara in the west and south uses the open savannah as grazing fields for their cattle.
Climates range from humid tropical in the eastern lowland rainforests to extreme temperatures at higher elevations, which can descend to -8°C.
Tourism Tracks in Andringitra National Park
There are two tracks for those on Madagascar tour to access the park at the moment. Oneis from Ambalavao to Antanifotsy. The other one starts at 37 km of the RN 7 to Ambalavao near the village of Tanambao (there are signs on the road!)
This second track heads for Vohitsaoka, where a toll fee of Ar 5,000 per person is charged, and heads after to Camp Catta. A 4x4 is indispensable for those on Madagascar safari, since it is no possible to reach Andringitra with public transport.
There are two ANGAP offices, one located in Antanifotsy (Namoly) and the other one in Morarano (near Camp Catta). The park fees cost Ar 10,000 one day, Ar 15,000 two days, Ar 20,000 three days and Ar 25,000 four days.
The guide tariffs are set depending on the tour chosen. If you are making a multi day trekking you'll probably need a porter too.
Circuits Within Andringitra National park
There are different circuits within the park. The paths in this park are maintained in a very good state. On difficult patches of the paths one has created solutions, so everyone who is fit can make the hike.
This 6 km long track takes you to a beautiful 300m high waterfall passing through dense forest.
The Diavolana trek begins at the main campsite. The initial forest is slowly substituted by alpine meadows covered by orchids at the end of the rainy season.
The path passes by the Riambavy (the queen) and Riandahy (the king) sacred waterfalls, which tumble 250m down the escarpment.
They are said to be the embodiment of a royal couple who could not conceive a child. They climbed up to the falls with a spiritual healer and sacrificed a white-faced zebu to the ancestors, so that they could conceive a child.
As the path gains altitude, the granite peaks and pleated escarpment dominate the view. At the highest point, 2,100m, there's a rock slab that serves as a convenient picnic spot and offers an excellent viewing point to spot the ring-tailed lemurs on the opposite cliffs.
These high mountain lemurs have grown thick feather to protect themselves against the cold of this high altitude habitat. The whole tour takes about 10 hours, it is strenuous but certainly one of the most beautiful trackings in the area!
Imarivolanitra climb (ascent of Pic Boby)
The view from Pic Boby offers a breathtakingly panorama on smooth granite blocks and the rice paddies of the Betsileo tribe. Usually this trecking is made in two days from the main campsite.
On the first day the path follows the same circuit that the Diavalona route. But after you have arrived at a bifurcation on the falls, hikers continue at a steep path leaving the forest that comes out onto the Andohariana plateau and climbs up further on a higher plateau behind granite mountain tops, where the second campsite is located.
On the second day hikers climb to the Pic Boby very early in the morning (at about 6 am). You have to cross the river behind the campsite and follow the path that runs along the slope aloft. At a basin in front Pic Boby, the path is marked by "stone men".
The ascent takes about two or three hours, depending of you pace. The peak, which is the highest accessible peak of the country, is easy to climb. The mountain was name by the French after a dog (the Malagasy name is Imarivolanitra).
It is said that a French botanist was camping in 1920 with his dog called Boby below the summit. One night Boby got lost. The investigator, who had heard his dog barking in the fog, tried to find the dog. But instead of finding him he reached the summit of the mountain.
This trail leads you to the primary forests that build the Eastern corridor east of the park. The circuit is 14 km long and usually involves 8-9 hours of walking through a humid environment.
Ishavato is the name of a high altitude plateau where some rare palm tree species grow up. You can also visit a nearby waterfall and admire the wonderful sunset over the rocky plains below. The circuit is 15 km long and can take about 12 hours to complete. Mostly it will involve a camping night.
Accommodation in Andringitra National park
Within the park you can sleep in one of the ANGAP rooms at Namoly and Morarano (about Ar 15,000 in Namoly -quite comfortable place with warm water supply- and Ar 5,000 in Morarano).There are several campsites in the park.
The main campsite for both Asaramanitra and Diavalona circuits is located at Belambo, and is equipped with a kitchen, water and WC.
The two-day ascent of Pic Boby involves overnight at the Andranolava (kitchen, water from the river, WC, no showers!) and Andriampotsy campsites (with kitchen, water, WC and showers).
If you have decided to make the Isahavato trekking, you can overnight at the Iataranomby campsite which is equipped with a kitchen and a WC, but has no showers or drinking water.
Outside Andringitra National park you can stay overnight at the beautiful bungalows and luxuy tents of these two lodges both located in the amazing Tsaranoro Valley:
This camp offers different accommodation options. There are four comfortable bungalows equipped with private facilities and solar water heaters at the price of 50 € / 60 € (low and high season respectively).
It offers also eight traditional-styled bungalows with private and shared facilities at prices starting from 20 € and some tents equipped with a foam mattress at only 7 €-10 € for the budget travelers. If you have your own tent you can also pitch it here for mere 3 € per night.
Accommodation at Tsara Camp is provided in ten fully furnished tents, each equipped with two simple beds. Hot water is provided every morning in a wash-basin next the tents.
Behind each tent is a small private bathroom with an outside shower and chemical toilet. No electricity. You can ask for further information at the ANGAP Office in Fianarantsoa or at the National Park in Ambalavao.