Expert Reviews – Ankarana SR
Philip is an acclaimed travel writer and author of many guidebooks, including the Bradt guides to Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa.
1 person found this review helpful.
Mountains of pins
Bypassed by the main road between the popular resort island on Nosy Be and the port of Diego Suarez, Ankarana is of greatest interest for protecting a massive ‘tsingy’ eroded limestone formation less impressive but far more accessible than its counterpart at the Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park. Day hikes into the reserve lead into the spectacular bleak and jagged Grande Tsingy, parts of which need to be crossed on a suspension bridge, via a lovely green crater lake and sinkhole where two rivers vanish underground. We felt the reserve to be notable more for its unique scenery than for wildlife, though we did see crowned lemur and Sanford’s brown lemur, along with endemic birds such as lesser vasa parrot, crested coua, blue vanga and sickle-winged vanga. More macabre is the Grottes des Chauves-Souris, which supports some 50,000 bats, and is also scattered with the bones of locals who took refuge here to avoid the invading Imerina army in the 19th century.
Ariadne is a renowned African wildlife photographer whose work is featured in many well-known guidebooks and magazines.
The ancient tsingy of Ankarana
Ankarana Special Reserve is known for its strangely beautiful limestone tsingy formations. The virtual forest of stone needles is the result of a unique process of vertical and horizontal erosion, which might have started more than 200 million years ago. The inhospitable environment (tsingy is a Malagasy word translating into ‘where one can’t walk’) has been made accessible with pathways, viewing platforms and suspension bridges offering different perspectives of the Ankarana massif. It also protects a whole different world underneath in the form of about 100km/62mi of natural tunnels and caves, many of them harboring huge bat colonies (with an amazing variety of over 15 species recorded). Most of the wildlife in Ankarana lives in the forested valleys between the tsingy but I was lucky to see a group of crowned lemurs tiptoeing across the sharp limestone karst. Other wildlife highlights were a very relaxed nocturnal Ankarana sportive lemur and a beautiful Madagascar ground boa.