Ankarana national Park is one of the oldest Parks in Madagascar and it was founded in 1956. It is located next to the Amber national park and the name Ankarana was derived from the local people the Antankarana that live in the area next to the Park. The word Antankarana is a Malagasy word which can loosely be translated as the people from the rocks and this is due to the rocky nature of the landscape where the Park is located. It is one of the few parks in the country that is surrounded by the rivers and this gives it a beautiful scenery to look at. The rivers are joined with different gorges, rocks that are made of limestone and other amazing things to look at. The park is filled with numerous plant species that spice up the vegetation of the Park and some of these include the peeling trees, baobab trees, Adenia trees and others which offer a good backdrop when it comes to taking photographs.
The rivers are filled with crocodiles and that is why one should be conscious when crossing the river although it gives a chance to look at the Nile crocodiles that keep on swimming in the River. The Park is also filled with large forests that can be attributed to the rainfall that is received in the area which almost amounts to 2000 millimeters. The Tsingys found in the Park divide the Park into two that is the green dry forest and the dry savannah landscape these two have different habitats for example eleven lemur species live in the dry savannah landscape whereas the rest leave them in the green landscape. The Park experiences a lot of hot temperatures and that is why the trekking should be done in the evening or morning so that you do not sweat a lot.
Ankarana reserve offers a lot to all those who visit and the best activity that you can carry out is hiking. When it comes to hiking, the Ankara is divided into three parts to suit the hiker’s interests and these are:
The Big Tsingy Ankara hike is one of the most frequented parts of the forest during a hike because it offers one a good view of the forest including caves and other things along the way like the different Lemur species, the birds, various reptiles and the suspension bridge. You can also enjoy a picnic along the way after along hike but you should be aware of the sharp stones so that they do not cut you. The hike in the big Tsingy will take you an hours’ time although you can take the whole hike in two days.
The Tsingy rouge is found between the Ankara National Park and the Diego Suarez and it is different from the rest of the Tsingy because they are extremely sharp especially at the edges. These were formed due to the increased erosion that took place leaving behind stones that varied in color between a reddish brown and vanilla color. The trail can be traversed for almost an hour and you get to see the beauty of the limestone stones and take wonderful close up pictures of the trail and the surroundings.
This is also a commonly used route when it comes to hiking and it is a much shorter one as compared to the rest. The starting point of the trek is on a flat surface but after passing through the smaller part of the Park, you start the climb up the stones and while here, you will get to view the different species of Lemur, birds, bats when you visit the caves and many more other beautiful things that can be seen in the Park.
After looking at the three segments that are found in the Park, there are some major trail treks that are normally used by the tourists and these include the following:
There are numerous animal that are found in the Ankara Park and all these can be viewed when you visit the place. There is a recorded number of 96 bird species, 11 lemurs, snakes and bats. Most of the wildlife found in the Park is endemic to Madagascar and it is not always about the number of animals that you can see but about their uniqueness from the rest of the world. The different species of lemur that can be seen include the crowned lemur, the nocturnal sportive lemur, and the Eulemur lemur. The reptiles that can be found also include the rare panther chameleon, day geckos, golden hook nose snake, Henkel’s leaf tailed geckos and the Nile crocodiles that live in the caves found in the Park.
The best time to visit Ankarana is during the dry season which normally happens from the month of April to October. It is considered the best because then the roads will not be too slippery and you will be able to view the different wildlife better during the dry season although you should note that it is always extremely hot during the afternoons and therefore the best tie to go around the Park is in the mornings and evenings.
You can also visit the Park during the wet season although it will not be conducive due to the slippery roads. The rainy season normally happens between the months of December to March and if you are to visit Ankarana reserve you need to pack some warm clothes as it will be extremely cold due to the heavy rains although it can get extremely hot too during these months.
The Ankara national Park does not have many accommodation facilities as many of them are found either nearby or minutes away from the park, but you can arrange to have camping tents out up so that you can enjoy the wilderness. The tents can be put up by the tour guides but if you are not into night camping, you can opt for the hotels and lodges that are found near the park. Some of the accommodation facilities around Ankara national Park include:
The Ankarana lodge is located in the middle of a bush and it gives you the best feeling of a bush camp. They provide excellent meals, a bar and the rooms are in good condition although there is no WFI but this can be replaced by game watching.
The lodge is located just a few minutes away from the Park and it has very good basic rooms that are self-contained, good local cuisines and you also get a clear view of the Park beforehand.
The Park is located along the high way and it can easily be accessed by car and flights. The flight from Antsiranana to Ankarana takes over four hours and there are local flights that can take you to the Park at a given fee.
The road transportation that leads to the park is a bit bumpy and not pleasant like any other road in Madagascar and they have not been worked on even with the increase in tourists visiting the Park. But the bumpy ride will be worth it when you get to the park and get to see the magnificent rocks that are found in the area and the wildlife that you will not see anywhere else in the world.
The forests in Madagascar are faced with a problem of deforestation by the locals who clear the trees out so that they can be able to settle and carry out the various activities like farming and grazing. The only way to save these forests is by encouraging tourists to visit the parks so that they remain intact for tax collection and reservation.