Andasibe Mantadia National Park is a large, dense rainforest which is home to many species of lemurs including the famous Indri. The Indri is the largest living lemur and is well known for its unique singing call which can be heard up to one mile away.
It is the closest National Park to the capital city of Madagascar, Antananarivo making it one of the most visited on the island. Due to its location and accessibility, many visitors will come to Andasibe Mantadia National Park and the Analamazaotra Special Reserve for even a one day trip.
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Where is Madagascar Located?
Madagascar is an island country that is part of Africa. It is located roughly 266 miles east of Southern Africa in the western Indian Ocean. Madagascar is the 4th largest island in the world.
How to Get Around Madagascar
For the duration of our time in Madagascar we had our own private driver and guide. We arranged our entire trip through Tanzania and Madagascar with a highly rated company named Piper & Heath. We also used them for our trip through South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana and they are one of the best in the business.
Having a driver and guide throughout your stay in Madagascar is definitely recommended. The road conditions are very poor throughout the country and many people do not speak english.
Madagascar Landscape Along the East Coast
Traveling along the National Route 2 out of Antananarivo towards the island’s east coast you will experience a different type of Madagascar landscape. Unlike the dry, deciduous forest of the west, the east side is lush with greenery like the endless supply of banana trees and the over-populated eucalyptus tree.
Fields of rice patties fill the open Madagascar landscapes interrupted only by tiny villages or slashed and burnt hillsides along the dirt road you’ll travel. The temperatures will start to become cooler and the air more humid.
You’ll be heading towards the Analamazaotra Reserve and the Andasibe-Mantadia National Park in search of the many species of lemurs that are found there. The most famous of these lemurs is the Indri which is the largest species of Lemur in the world and is unfortunately on the critically endangered list.
The Analamazaotra Special Reserve is smaller than the Andasibe-Mantadia National Park and has better maintained trails. However, this means that it is more crowded so if you have the time I would recommend visiting both parks on separate days.
Where is Andasibe Mantadia National Park Located?
The Andasibe Mantadia National Park is located in the eastern part of Madagascar about 16 km outside the town of Andasibe. Due to the conditions of the road the journey takes around 1.5 hours from Andasibe to reach the entrance to Andasibe Mantadia National Park. The National Park is also located 159 kilometers east of the capital city of Madagascar, Antananarivo.
To reach Andasibe Mantadia National Park from Antananarivo you will drive over four hours along the National Road 2 (RN2). The road is very bumpy and filled with potholes forcing the driver to proceed at a very slow rate. This is why it take s a very long time to get around Madagascar.
Andasibe Mantadia National Park Madagascar
The Andasibe Mantadia National Park is a large rainforest area filled with dense vegetation and trees including moss, ferns and orchids. The Andasibe Mantadia National Park was founded in 1989 and consists of two parts: the Analamazaotra Special Reserve and the larger Mantadia National Park.
The Andasibe Mantadia National Park encompasses a large area of 16,000 hectares (roughly 39,537 acres) and is made up of a complex labyrinth of paths and circuits. We did the Tsakoka circuit which takes roughly 4 hours.
The trail is longer, hillier and a bit more difficult as you will venture into denser forest. However, the longer circuit allows for more animal sighting opportunities which is useful since the lemurs are harder to find in such a large area.
The Andasibe Mantadia National Park has fewer established trails then the Analamazaotra Reserve but due to its size you probably won’t run into many other people. With our guide we stuck to the designated trail about 90% of the time.
If our guide Victor spotted a lemur family just off the trail then we would wander deeper into the forest to have a look.
While walking through the lush rain forest we eventually found a family of Black-and-White Ruffed Lemurs snacking high in the tree tops. The majority of the lemur species can be seen in both the Andasibe Mantadia National Park and the Analamazaotra Reserve expect for a few.
The black -and-white ruffed lemur, for example, only lives within the Mantadia rainforest and is not seen in the Analamazaotra Special Reserve.
The black -and-white ruffed lemur is known as the acrobat of lemurs. They contort their bodies and hang upside down to reach the berries on the trees.
These lemurs are one of two species of ruffed lemurs that are endemic to Madagascar, the other is the red ruffed lemur. They are unfortunately a species of lemur which are critically endangered mainly due to deforestation.
During our time at the Andasibe Mantadia National Park and the Analamazaotra Special Reserve we had a local guide with us named Victor. It is absolutely necessary and required to visit these parks with a guide. They will provide invaluable knowledge on the flora and fauna in the area.
We learned so much about the different species of lemurs and we even saw a rare giraffe weevil because of our guide. It is also required to have a guide with you and you will not be allowed into the park without one. You can pre-arrange a guide with your tour company or you can find one at the main office when you arrive.
Where is the Analamazaotra Special Reserve Located?
The Analamazaotra Reserve is located within the Andasibe-Mantadia National Park and encompasses a smaller area of only 1,500 hectares (3,706 acres). The smaller area of the Analamazaotra Special Reserve allows visitors a higher change of lemur sightings within a smaller range and shorter trail circuits.
Analamazaotra Special Reserve
The Analamazaotra Special Reserve is broken up into a few paths, labelled as “circuits,” each one following a different route around the reserve. Specifically there are 4 routes: The Circuit Indri 1 (2 hrs), Circuit Indri 2 (3 hrs), Circuite Adventure (4-6 hrs) and the Palmier Circuit (1-2 hrs).
We chose the Circuit Indri 1 trail because it is the most popular and accessible. Plus, it is passes through the territory of an Indri family so the chances of spotting them were incredibly high.
Our guide, Victor is one of the local guides of the Reserve and neighboring National Park. He is also a master lemur spotter. Almost immediately after entering the Reserve, Victor spotted a sleeping Woolly Lemur and a Red-Fronted Brown Lemur.
It wasn’t long after that we saw our first glimpse of an Indri lemur. High up in the forest’s canopy was the distinct black face and tailless body of the Indri. Unfortunately, he was very high and quite difficult to see so we continued on in search of other lemurs. We followed Victor through the thick forest and came upon a family of Diademed Sifikas.
At first they were high in the trees but as we stood and watched they began “dancing” through the trees, slowly making their way to the forest floor. We crouched down quietly beside them and two of the lemurs began playing around right in front of us.
A mom, baby and two more Diademed Sifikas relaxed on the ground while the baby bounced around, leaping from mom’s back to the tree to another Sifika. Eventually the lemurs began bounding away so we continued along in search of more Indris.
The Analamazaotra Special Reserve is also home to the largest living lemur species called the Indri. In fact, this is the only place in Madagascar where you can see the Indri lemur.
The Indri can reach lengths of 2.4 feet and can weigh up to 19 pounds. It lives in small family groups which reside amongst the canopies in the rainforest and is endemic to Madagascar.
The Indri is probably most well known for its distinctive call which is more like a song lasting from 5 seconds and up to 3 minutes. This loud call can be heard up to one mile away and it’s how we were able to find them in the forest while walking along the Indri Circuit 1 Route.
Other Lemurs that you can see within the Analamazaotra Reserve and the Andasibe-Mantadia National Park are the Grey Bamboo Lemur, Woolly Lemur, Red-Fronted Brown Lemur and the Black and White Ruffed Lemur.
In addition to the lemurs, many species of insects, birds, chameleons and amphibians can also be found here.
Entrance Costs to Andasibe-Mantadia National Park and the Analamazaotra Special Reserve
The local currency of Madagascar is the Malagasy Ariary. The conversion is 3,783 MGA = $1 USD. The entrance fee to the National Park and Reserve is 45,000 MGA (~$12 USD) per person.
The park is open from 6:00 AM to 4:00 PM and it is required to enter with a guide. The prices for guides vary depending on which site you are going to and which circuit you choose.
For example, we chose the Indri 1 Circuit in Analamazaotra and that cost 40,000 MGA ($10.50 USD). For Andasibe Mantadia National Park we did the Tsakoka Circuit which cost 70,000 MGA ($18.50 USD).
What is the Climate in Madagascar & When to Go
The climate in Madagascar varies not only in the different parts of the island but also during the different seasons. In the east the temperatures are cooler and more humid from the rainforest. Whereas in the west it is drier and hotter due to the desert.
- The peak season and best time to go to Madagascar is between May and October. The weather is dry and it is when the country experiences the least amount of rainfall. Of course this is also when Madagascar will be the most crowded with tourists. The best time to visit is around September and October. The summer months are more crowded with and it is the hottest months.
- The rainy season goes from December to March so I would avoid that time. You’ll want to spend most of your time outdoors and doing so in the rain won’t be much fun. Plus the roads can often times get flooded and create a problem if you are trying to move around within the country.
- The shoulder season is November, April and May. This would be a good time to go if you were looking to save money and avoid some of the crowds. However, you will have to take your chances with the rain.
What to Pack for Andasibe Mantadia National Park
- Wear long hiking pants and trail shoes to protect your feet from the insects or branches along the forest floor.
- Apply sunscreen and insect repellent before heading into the forest
- Pack bottled water as most visits to the parks last about 2-4 hours
- Bring a backpack with you to keep all of your things in so your hands can be free to take photographs
- Bring a camera with a zoom lens
What to Expect in Madagascar
1. What Language is Spoken in Madagascar?
The official languages of Madagascar are Malagasy and French. Madagascar was once a French Colony which is why French is widely spoken.
2. Is Madagascar Safe?
Yes, the country of Madagascar is safe. The main thing you need to worry about in Madagascar’s capital city of Antananarivo is pick pocketing. While you are out in the smaller towns, the national parks and the countryside you will never need to worry about your safety.
3. What is Madagascar Known For?
Madagascar is mainly known for lemurs, chameleons, the famous baobab trees and unique biodiversity due to its geographical location.
4. What Animals are in Madagascar?
Madagascar is known for being home to many different species of animals that you cannot find anywhere else in the world. Some of these include lemurs, fossa, aye-aye, chameleons, and different species of birds, reptiles and insects.
5. What is the Population of Madagascar?
As of 2020 the current population of the island of Madagascar is just over 27.5 million people.
Andasibe Mantadia National Park Hotels
There are a few hotel options nearby the Andasibe Mantadia National Park and Analamazaotra Reserve where you can stay. I stayed at and can recommend the Vakona Forest Lodge. Centrally located with access to both National Parks, the Vakona Forest Lodge is a great place to stay for a few nights while you explore the area.
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WHAT CAMERA GEAR DO I USE?
- Main Camera: Sony A7III
- Wide angle lens: Sony G Master 16-35mm f/2.8
- Zoom lens: Sony 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3
- Prime lens: Sony 85mm f/1.8
- Secondary Camera: Canon 6D Mark II
- Canon wide angle lens: Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L
- Canon lens: Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L
- Underwater camera: Leica X-U
- Camera with gimbal: DJI Osmo Pocket & Underwater Housing
- Drone: DJI Mavic Pro 2
- Camera Bag: Polar Pro Drone Trekker
- External Hard Drive: LaCie 2 TB rugged mini external hard drive