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Tsingy de Bemaraha National park, Madagascar

December 3, 2014

Located inland about 70 km from the west coast in the northern sector of the Antsingy region of the Bemaraha Plateau, north of the Manambolo River Gorge, in Madagascar, much of the reserve integral to Tsingy de Bemaraha comprises limestone karst, delimited to the east by abrupt cliffs which rise some 300-400 m above the Hanambolo River valley and extend several tens of kilometres from north to south.

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The Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park is a protected UNESCO world heritage site, and it is literally nothing but spiked fence. Tsingy is a 250-square-mile tiger trap made up of massive limestone obelisks riddled with jagged spears.

Most visitors stay over three nights to explore this unique and amazing place. Petit tsingy is a circuit of 4-5 hours of duration that passes through a labyrinth of limestones and two view points over the impressive pinnacles. There are some good chances to spot the Decken’s sifaka and red-fronted brown lemurs.

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Manambolo gorge is a canoe trip along the gorge combined with an easier path through caves, stalactites, stalagmites and the famous family tomb of the Vazimba tribe.

Big Tsingy is probably the most rewarding half-day trip within the park as it goes deep into the limestone forest passing through several hanging bridges with the impressive karstic formations below your feet. The trail is not technically difficult and even children can cope with it, but you certainly should not suffer from vertigo! The look down from the hanging bridge is something to avoid for the easily fainted.

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A two day trek with camping within the park is also possible (Anjohimanintsy trail). This circuit is a combination of several shorter treks up and down across the Tsingy formations visiting an underground cave and discovering the different plants and animals sharing the different ecosystems.

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The Park is only opened during the dry season from April to November, since it is inaccessible during the rainy season (mid-end November to mid-end May). The Grand Tsingy are only accessible between June and the beginning of November. The access to Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park is indeed quite tough.

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If you are travelling by car, follow the road RN8 from Morondava until Belo-sur-Tsiribihina and once you have managed to cross the river (this can take longer than expected!) continue northwards along a bad secondary road until the village of Bekopaka where the Park entrance is. If you are really lucky you can manage the transfer in one day.

Starting in Tana, take the road RN1 until Tsiroanomandidy. Once here you can reach Bekopaka driving trough very bad roads passing by the villages of Morafeno and Antsalova.

There is a daily taxi-brousse conection between Morondava and Belo-sur- Tsiribihina and several days a week another one from Belo to Bekopaka.

A popular way of reaching Belo sur Tsiribihina is of course, descending the Tsiribihina River. A more straightforward way to reach the park is participating on an expedition on the Manambolo River, which ends directly on the park.

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The entry price costs MGA 25,000 (USD 9.40) for one day and MGA 37,000 (USD 14.00) for two days. The guide fees will depend on the route chosen.

Several tour operators in Morondava (where most of the organized trips to the Tsingy start off if you have not opted to take the tour on the Tsiribihina from Antsirabe) offer 4×4 for hire.

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