Andasibe and Mantadia
The Andasibe and Mantadia National Parks are accessed by a 150km winding road from Tana that takes approximately 3.5 hours. Access to the less touristy Mantadia National is only in a 4 x 4 vehicle. Well worth a visit is the Lemor Island and Crocodile reserve at the Vakona Lodge. Lemor Island is a refuge for lemors that were previously pets (a practise banned since 2001). The lemors are very tame and jump on your shoulders/arms. You can get some great close up photos. The crocodile reserve also has some of the rare fossa, chameleons, turtles, wild fowl and a small museum.
The Andasibe-Mantadia National Park is an amalgamation of Analamazaotra Special Reserve (or Perinet or Indri Special Reserve) and the nearby Mantadia National Park. Andasibe is an area of mid-altitude montane rainforest rising to over 1,000m and Mantadia features lowland and mid-altitude rainforest with little or no flat ground and many very steep slopes.
The Analamazaotra Reserve is a ‘special reserve’ established
for the protection of Madagascar's largest
and only tail-less lemur the Indri Indri
(babakoto). These largest of all living lemurs
are monogamous, and do not live in captivity
anywhere in the world. They greet the morning
with a unique display of elaborate calls
that echo throughout the forest.
There are nine species of lemur here, so as well as the habituated groups of Indri Indri there are also the Brown Lemur, Lesser Bamboo Lemur and three nocturnal species, the Rufus Mouse Lemur, Greater Dwarf Lemur and Eastern Woolly Lemur. There are many endemic rainforest species of birds: Madagascar Green Sunbird, Cuckoo Roller, Blue Pigeon, Blue and Red-Fronted Coua, Madagascar Falcon, Madagascar Long-Eared Owl, Vangas, four species of Ground Rollers, Vasa Parrot and non-endemic including the Madagascar blue pigeon, the Nelicourvi weaver, The Madagascar paradise flycatcher, the blue vanga and the Madagascar buzzard.
Mantadia National Park
To the north is the larger, more impressive Mantadia National Park rain forest although access is more difficult with hilly terrain and few established trails so a 4x4 vehicle is required. There are two species of lemur not found in the Analamazaotra Reserve, the Black-and-White Ruffed Lemur and the beautiful Diademed Sifaka. Throughout the park there is a good chance of seeing chameleons including the impressive, two-foot long Parson’s Chameleon and the tiny Nose-horned Chameleon with the best viewing season being the end of the rainy season in October/November. The area claims a world record for the number of frog species and includes the brightly coloured Golden Mantella. Most reptiles and frogs are seen during night walks which are most productive in the spring, summer and autumn months (September to May), when the nocturnal lemurs of the area are also more active.
Chameleons, geckos and praying mantis seen at the Vakona Lodge:
The crocodile reserve
The path runs above the lake that is home to about 30 crocodiles so viewing is good. The gate at the entrance to the crocodile area is a mere bar across the road which does not prevent the crocodiles from strolling out of their lake area. However, we were told that they always returned because they knew they would get fed!