Ankarana National Park
Ankarana Madagascar National park is sometimes refered to as Ankarana Special Reserve and was established in 1956. This reserve occupies an area of 1820sq km in the northern region of Diana. There are several things that can identify with this Madagascar holiday destination and they include the limestone karst painnacle called Tsingy, sacred lakes, botanical trail and the dolinesof Andohalambo.
The park is largely a dry deciduous forest growing on the chalky mountains which extend in the west to form the Ankarana. The massif grows intoa basaltic plain at 50m above sea level. Four major rivers run through Ankarana: the Besabola, the Ankarana river, the Antenan' Ankarana and the Manjeba
There are an estimated 330 species of plants and trees growing in the deciduous forests. Some of the species are endemic to the northern part of Madagascar in Ankarana Park and they include Pachypodium baronia, Adansonia perrieri, Delonyx velutina, Hildegardia erythosyphon.
There are also raised savannas made of Commiphora of the Burseracea family, Hildegardias of the Sterculiacea family. The canopy culminates over 20 meters. It is the kind of well-known forests in the west of Madagascar.
Other endemic species of plants and trees in the park include the Madagascar Boabab (Adansonia madagascarensis) growing on the Turrets of Tsingy, Euphorbia ankaranensis a grass of very rough and spiny trunk with red blooms, Vazaha tree-tree that peels is another unique species of Madagascar tree that peels during the dry season. Many of the endemic species of vegetation grow on the Tsingy and are adapted to the harsh dry conditions.
The best time to visit the forest for naturalists is during September to November when the plants and trees are at full bloom.
Ankarana National park is one of the most ecological gifted zones of Madagascar. There are more than 50 species of amphibians, 40 reptiles, 50 moulluscs, 14 speceis of bays and other species of mammals living in the park. Many of them are endemic to the park and are classified as threatened species.
Among these particular species are the rock dwelling frog, the ground boa, snakes, green geckos, flat tailed gecko, nocturnal lepilemurs, black tailed crocodile, giant fruit bat, Fosa,panther chameleon, ring tailed mongoose and Heteroliodon lava (known only from Ankarana). 11 species of lemurs live in Ankarana with the most famous Propithecus perrieri, locally called Black Sifaka, northern sportive lemur, crowned lemur and the Amber mountain fork-marked lemur…to mention a few.
More than 96 species of birds were recorded in the park including the crested ibis which is endemic in the forests of Ankarana National Park near the green lake, Greater Vassa Parrot, Madagascar paradise-flycatcher and many others
Ankarana is located south of Antsiranana (Diego Suarez) 180km and can be accessed via the gate near Anboandriky or at Matsaborinmanga. Only 4WD can cross through the rugged landscape. The best time to visit Ankarana is during the dry months of April to November although temperatures are high during this tiem of the year.
The rainy season runs for the rest of the year with some parts of the park becoming inaccessible due to flooding.
Tourists are encouraged to carry light clothing, comfortable pair of walking shoes, a sun hat and a flashflight for night tours in the forest.
There is accommodation in Ambilobe or Diego Suarez and also at the park entrance at Mahasima along RN6. The camp has basic accommodation facilities and a restaurant, self catering kitchen and water.