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Philip is an acclaimed travel writer and author of many guidebooks, including the Bradt guides to Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa.
Forest of rarities
One of my favourite national parks in Madagascar is the 1,350km2 Ankarafantsika, whose diverse flora comprises more than 850 largely endemic plant species. We hiked the Circuit Grande Boucle, which follows an extensive patch of dry deciduous forest before emerging on a grassy plateau above the spectacular Ankarokaroka Canyon, a lovely river-carved gorge whose angular sandstone pillars and fields of crystalline fairy chimneys glow golden-red in the early morning and late afternoon light. We had great views of the lovely Coquerel's sifaka and brown lemur en route, but dipped out on seeing the localised mongoose lemur, a ferret-faced partially nocturnal frugivore listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN. Bird-wise, the main draws are the localised Van Dam’s vanga, Schlegel’s asity and white-breasted mesite. I would strongly recommend a boat trip on the sacred Lake Ravelobe, which is a good place to look for the endemic Madagascar fish-eagle and Humblot's heron.