Tsingy de Bemaraha, Madagascar

Recently I was contacted by the Dailymail to contribute to an article about our experience in the Tsingy de Bemaraha in Madagascar.

You can read the article HERE

BUT!! since they only used like 2 sentences and 4 images of the extensive experience I wrote, I thought it would be nice to post it over here myself!

So here is a short bit about the Tsingy we visited in 2013 (way nicer to read than the dailymail article!)


 

Tsingy de Bemaraha

 

After another interesting flight from Antananarivo to Morondava in the western part of Madagascar, our 4×4 with driver was ready to take us to the Tsingy de Bemaraha. It is an UNESCO heritage nature reserve with a unique geography, consisting out of sharp limestone formations.

Despite that the drive is only about 100 km, it was definitely more easily said than done. The road to the Tsingy is essentially non-existing and is only a dusty and bumpy path straight through the beautiful dry Baobab landscape of Madagascar and it would actually take us 2 days to reach the Tsingy.

After visiting the Baobab trees and crossing rivers with homemade ferries on the first day, we camped in the Kirindy forest. Kirindy is one of the driest (and hottest) places in the world and home to the elusive Fossa and Malagasy Jumping rat. Also the Madame Berthe’s mouse Lemur lives there along with red-fronted brown lemurs and Verreaux’s sifakas. Luckily we were there in winter, so it was only 35C and not 60C…

After another long drive the next day, we finally arrived in Bekopaka, a little town on the river from where we would visit the park.

The next morning we started the adventure with a canoe river trip to see the Tsingy from the water and in the afternoon we visited the ‘Petit Tsingy’, the part of the park closest to Bekopaka. Here, the rocks and cliffs aren’t as daunting as in the ‘Grande Tsingy’, so it is a good start to get used to the sharp limestone formations. After a beautiful sunset seen from the viewpoint we went to bed early to get ready for the real deal; the ‘Grande Tsingy’.

After about a 2 hour drive the next day we arrived at the starting point for the hike through the Grand Tsingy. The rocks were about 3 times as high as the day before, so we used climbing gear for safety when we climbed the 15-20m high rocks. Still extremely hot for us tourists it was not an easy hike, but luckily the hike took us for a big part through the Tsingy at floor-level in the shade. I remembered some completely worn out elderly people we saw earlier on their way back in the car… now I understood why. When we had to climb up it was all well arranged with ladders and ropes, but it’s still quite a climb and you have to look out for the sharp rocks, you definitely don’t want to slip over there…

On top of the Tsingy you have an amazing view over the landscape and when you’re lucky you can see the Sifakas jumping over the rocks with no effort at all. Unfortunately we were not lucky lemur-wise, but we did see a Malagasy ring-tailed Mongoose.

We enjoyed another beautiful sunset from the highest viewpoint in the Grande Tsingy and went on our way back. Still there were 2 challenging obstacles to be taken; a vertigo inducing rope-bridge and off course the climb down.

After getting down safe and easy we hurried to get back before dark and get some well-deserved rest. After all, we still had the 13-hour pothole drive back the next day…

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