When you hear of Madagascar you probably think of an island close to Africa, lemurs and probably of one of the funnist animation flims ever. However, this is far from ending here. Even though not very large, the island of Madagascar has a lot to offer from more points of view; and if you happen to get here, then Tsingy is not something to miss. Imagine an untouched place where endangered species of lemurs and birds live among countless limestone “needles” and that would be just the beginning. So welcome to Madagascar!
The Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve is located on the western coast of the island and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990. The southern area was transformed into a national park covering 666 square kilometers ( no, no evil conspiracy there), while the northern part remains a protected complex. The limestone “daggers”, which make the area so unique reach up to 30 meters and were created by the rich rain in the area (about 1800 mm/ year), which dissolved the softer rock at the top, thus creating the landscape we see today.
The scary rocks got their name after the sound they make when they are hit, which is similar to the one made by a cracked bell. The locals claim that in the area there is not inough place to lay just on foot on flat ground. This isn’t very far from the truth as the area is so rough that it destroys even the toughest boots not to mention the fact that one missed step could be enough to get some bruises or even to end up with a sectioned artery. Maybe for most it would be a good idea to see the area safely, from a plane.
But, as rough as this place may be, that hasn’t stopped the local plants and animals to flourish in the area. The monkey bread, numerous figs and palm tees fill the spaces between the blades. The animals are just as rare and spectacular, the area being known for its species of lemurs, our little, big-eyed relatives, but also for the tens of species of birds. The only cave crocodiles in the world can also be found here. Even though they can easily reach 6 meters, they are usually almost lethergic because of the temperature of the cold water they live in. The 1,2 meter-long eels should be a more important reason to worry about.
In order to protect the area, the farmers are now encouraged to plant indigenous trees, to stop cutting the forest and to use the irrigation systems efficiently. If you want to visit the park you can get there by road from Morondava, which is about 150 kilometers away, or from Antsalova, which can be reached by plane from Antananarivo or Mahajanga.