Tsingy de l'ankarana
Ankarana is 110 Kilometers and 2.5 hour drive from Antseranana. We entered by the eastern gate and our trek encompassed suspension bridges and amazing views including from the Tsingy Rary platform. We also visited the bat caves, an ancient sacred site and home to hundreds of Rousette bats.
This "Lost World within the Lost World", the Ankarana massif, an area some 80 kilometres long and 50 kilometres wide, is a wild region with grand limestone karst pinnacles known as ‘Tsingy’ and deep narrow canyons covered by forests. Underneath are awesome caves, passages and subterranean rivers in which live Nile crocodiles (south west area), blind cave fish and bats. Some of the largest caves have collapsed, permitting isolated pockets of river-fed forest.
This rocky 'tsingy‘ rose up in a grand movement of the techtonic plates and has subsequently been eroded by subterranean rivers and rain. There are only two limestone ‘Tsingy’ in the world, this and another on the south west coast of Madagascar.
Dry deciduous forest grows around the periphery of the massif and penetrates up into the larger canyons. The vegetation is fig and baobab trees inside the canyons with pachypodium and euphorbia on the high tsingy.
Inside the park live many species of lemurs - Crowned lemur, Sanford’s brown lemur, northern sportive lemur, fat-tailed dwarf lemur, Amber Mountain fork-marked lemur and western woolly lemur - various kind of mammals (the tail stripped mangoose, ring-tailed mongoose, fanaloka, fosa), 83 species of birds, geckos, chameleons, bats and crocodiles in underground lakes. The Rousette bats are the smallest of Madagascar’s three endemic fruit bats, although they can have a wing span of up to 60cm. As in other fruit bats, the face of the Madagascan rousette is rather dog-like, with a pointed muzzle, large eyes, and fairly conspicuous, widely separated ears. Very rare but present are Perrier’ black sifaka, western grey bamboo lemur and the aye-aye. In fact, Ankarana is thought to contain the highest density of primates of any forest in the world.
It is also a sacred site for the Antankarana ancestors, and hosts the royal mast coronation ceremony of the quinquennial "Tsanga-tsaina" relic-washing festival. Apparently, the Tsingy got its name because a tribe, being hunted, escaped into the rocks to seek refuge but the rocks were so spikey that they had to walk on tip-toe, which in Malagasy is Tsingy, Tsingy.