Ranomafana National Park encompasses 425 square kilometres of dense tropical rainforest carpeting mountainous landscapes. Situated on the east coast of the island, Ranomafana is one of the most easily accessible parks in Madagascar and is also a World Heritage Site. The national park is a major drawcard for die-hard hikers, with many trails within the park, each of which can only be navigated together with a qualified park guide.
Additionally, there are numerous hot springs dotted across the park, warm crystalline streams, and beautiful waterfalls. The surrounding rainforests provide a home for at least 20 species of lemur and 30 endemic species of wildlife. The rare golden bamboo lemur was discovered in this area and is most certainly considered a wildlife highlight of visiting the park. Ranomafana National Park is geared towards tourism, which means abundant accommodation options. The closest town is Fianarantsoa which has a domestic airport connecting visitors to Ivato International Airport in Madagascar’s capital.
The lush rainforests house a range of unique species, and the most eye-catching flora carpeting the forest floors. There are 20 species of lemur thriving in the forests, including the red-bellied lemur, eastern grey bamboo lemur, and the extremely rare greater bamboo and aye-aye lemurs. Lemurs aside, there are plenty of other small creatures to spot in the knotted forests. Such species include bats, mongoose, seven species of tenrec, and 130 species of frog. There are a recorded 115 species of bird in both the primary and secondary forests of the park. Species to look out for include the crested ibis, rufous-headed ground roller, blue vans, and the brown mesites.
Madagascar is a tropical island with frequent rainfall. Even during the dry season, visitors can expect bouts of rain. The best time to visit is during the dry season, which is from April to December.
The safaris in Ranomafana National Park focus on spotting lemurs and birdwatching. There are five hiking circuits in Ranomafana’s rainforests, each meandering its way past unique scenes of rivers, orchid blooms, and abundant birdlife. Hikers need a qualified guide who will introduce them to the fauna and flora of the area. Visitors generally see about five species of lemur. The lengthier hikes take about six to eight hours, but the wildlife viewing en route is spectacular. It’s here that guests can potentially spot up to 68 endemic bird species such as the Henst goshawk and velvet asity.
The most visited area is the Talatakely Trail, where there are various picnic sites and lookout points. The waterfalls in this region provide the perfect hideaways for birdwatching and taking photographs. The thermal pools are also a main attraction of the area.
There are no camping facilities inside Ranomafana, but visitors who sign-up for a multi-day trek can overnight in the park. General camping facilities are available on the park’s boundary. Inside the park, there is a luxury lodge furnished with 10 well-appointed bungalows overlooking the spectacular landscape beyond. There is also an array of budget-style hotels on the fringes of the park.