Berenty Reserve occupies a tract of dense forest along the Mandrare River in southeast Madagascar. This small but noteworthy private reserve is famous for its dense populations of lemurs and has only been open to the public since 1981. Visitors can spot up to six different types of lemurs, some of which are habituated. Both primatologists and documentary makers flock to the reserve to study and observe these comical creatures.
Additionally, birding is a big pastime in this region of Madagascar, and avid twitchers flock to the area to spot endemic birdlife, such as the Madagascar cuckoo hawk. The reserve is home to the south’s largest colony of bats, affectionately referred to as Madagascar flying foxes. Berenty Reserve’s claim to fame is its protected section of spiny forest, a unique forest of strange tentacle-like trees punctuated by fat baobabs. Its landscape is truly remarkable, and there is so much to see in this revered destination.
Berenty Reserve is about 86 kilometres from Taolagnaro and a visit must be arranged before arrival. There is a private airstrip for small planes, and the nearest international airport is Tôlanaro Airport.
Famed for its abundant lemur population, Berenty Reserve plays host to both diurnal and nocturnal species. Brown lemurs, ringtail lemurs, and Verreaux's sifakas can be seen during the day, while the white-footed sportive lemur, reddish-grey mouse lemur, and grey mouse lemur can be spotted at night. Most of the lemurs are habituated to people, which means visitors can enjoy up close and personal sightings. Lemur sightings are guaranteed. One of the more unusual species in the area is the fruit bat. Affectionately referred to as Madagascar flying foxes, these giant bats nest in the region and occupy a large territory.
Although the reserve is relatively small, there are over 100 species of birds in the area. The Mandrare River provides the perfect habitat for water-fowl, and the unique spiny forest provides shelter o species such as paradise flycatchers, elusive cuckoo hawk, Malagasy white-eye, Malagasy Kestrel, and the Malagasy brush warbler. The white-browed owl, Torotoroka scops owl, and more commonly spotted scops owl can be spotted during nocturnal visits to the reserve.
Berenty is a year-round destination with extremes in temperatures. December to March is the rainy summer season and is extremely wet. It’s also hot and humid during this period. June to August are the coldest months. April is considered the best month to visit as this is when lemurs are the most active.
The spiny forest is one of Africa’s most fascinating destinations and is best explored on foot. Night walking safaris through this eerie paradise is a highlight of any visit to Berenty and reveals exquisite sightings of nocturnal lemurs and owls. There is a mosaic of easily navigable trails through the reserve, which visitors can explore on their own. Most accommodation options have a guide on hand to locate lemurs and introduce guests to other wildlife. Night walking safaris also offer a rare opportunity for guests to spot dense colonies of the Madagascar flying fox. Birdlife is the most active first thing in the morning when it’s ideal for exploring the forests.
There is one accommodation option in the reserve, comprising 30 comfortable air-conditioned bungalows. The bungalows are situated in the depths of the forest and are constructed from wood. Each bungalow comes complete with its patio with a view. On-site, there’s a restaurant, gift shop, and private airstrip.