Tsimanampetsotsa National Park
Tsimanampetsotsa National Park is named after its spectacular lake and main park highlight. This Madagascar national park is located in the southwest of Madagascar, not far from the coast. It is approximately 90km south of Tulear and comprises 430 km² of spiny forest and wetlands.
This area was already protected in 1927 due to its biological meaning (90% of the flora and fauna is endemic!) mainly as habitat for water birds, and became a National Park in 1966.
The water supplies are basic both for humans and for animals and plants, since Tsimanampetsotsa (which means “lake without dolphins” in Malagasy) lies in the most arid zone of the island, which receives only around 300 mm rain each year.
Apart from the lake itself, there are two main landscapes inside Tsimanampetsotsa National Park. They are a calcareous plateau covered with dense xerophilous thickets (a locally endemic spiny forest), huge baobabs and banyan trees.
The other is the sand dunes along the coast covered by a grassy blanket. Tsimanampetsotsa National Park also has numerous caves and sinkholes, which are the result of an underground stream.
Flora and Fauna in Tsimanampetsotsa National Park
Tsimanampetsotsa National Park is a birders paradise. There are more than 100 species are found here. They include pink, greater and dwarf flamingos forming big colonies on the lake and 5 coua species, Archbold´s newtonia. Others are Madagascar plover, red-shouldered vanga or Lafresnaye´s vanga.
Apart from birds, there are 12 species of mammals, among them the extremely rare and local endemic Grandidier´s mongoose and 4 lemur species: ring-tailed lemur, Verreaux´s sifaka, Gray-brown mouse lemur and white-footed sportive lemur.
Among the 39 reptile species, the most significant one is the radiated turtle, which is endemic to this region and extremely endangered to extinction.
Because of the chemical composition of the saline lake, no fish can survive in it. Nevertheless, the unique blind fish of the world is easy to find in some underground caves.
Tour Circuits in Tsimanampetsotsa National Park
There are several easy circuits designed to suit all fit conditions and personal interests for those on Madagascar safari tour to Tsimanampetsotsa:
This is the cave circuit where you can admire the stalactites and stalagmites and observe the famous blind fishes while on Madagascar safari in Tsimanampetsotsa National Park.
The Andaka circuit includes a short walk along the lake shore special for flamingo lovers. While on your Madagascar tour here, you will enjoy beautiful views and get to see many other birds and plants.
The Emande circuit allows you to visit old tombs and enjoy some terrific landscapes whilst trying to spot lemurs, reptiles and water birds.
This is a botanical walk through arid landscapes focused on baobabs, radiated turtles, land birds and the underground cave.
Best Time to go to Tsimanampetsotsa National Park
The best months to go to Madagascar on safari to Tsimanampetsotsa National Park are between April and December. This is becausse the lake is covered with the flamingo colonies.
Tsimanampetsotsa National Park is opened between 7 am and 5 pm every day. It is strongly recommended to bring walking shoes, sun protection and plenty of drinking water!
Tsimanampesotsa National Park is accessible all the year round and a Madagascar safari to this park can be anytime.
How to Get to Tsimanampetsotsa National Park
If on a Madagascar tour to Tsimanampetsotsa National Park from Tulear take the road along the coast southwards passing through Anakao until the town of Beheloka. From here continue along a sandy poor path about 1-2 hours until Efoetse, where the main entrance is situated.
It is also possible to reach the Park by boat from Anakao. A Madagascar tour from Anakao to Tsimanampetsotsa National Park takes around 4 hours depending on the type of boat available.
There is no public transport heading to the park, so visitors will need their own car or arrange a day trip from a hotel in Anakao or Beheloka.
Accommodation in Tsimanampetsotsa National Park
There are two camping sites within Tsimanampetsotsa National Park where you can experience true nature at Soarano and Mitoho with basic facilities. Fees are 10,000 Ar per night/person,
another cheap option is one of the modest hotels at Beheloka, ideal for budget travelers.
Just some km from the park the Hotel Ambola offers a more comfortable accommodation. This beautiful complex has 15 large, comfortable and charming rooms. There is a pool, satellite TV, a cocktail bar and an excellent restaurant.
Many activities are offered (whale watching, diving, fishing, excursions to the national park), as well as vehicles for renting and transfers. The hotel owns a 1km long private beach