Andasibe-Mantadia, comprised of the Analamazaotra special reserve and Mantadia National Park, is one of Madagascar’s most visited parks.
Located some 140 kms north east of Antananarivo (but some four hours by road), Analamazaotra (commonly called Andasibe) Special Reserve covers 810 ha of humid rainforest which contains a huge range of plant-life including hundreds of orchid species which flower from September to January.
The reserve is however best known for its habituated groups of the largest lemur species of all, the Indri, whose haunting cry will be heard echoing through the forest each morning. Trails throughout the reserve are well maintained and relatively flat offering more guaranteed sightings so this tends to be the priority area to visit and is therefore busier.
The larger Mantadia National Park is a bit more off-the-beaten-track and offers a more exclusive experience. Swathes of primary rainforest give the park a wilder feel and the trails tend to be steeper and narrower. Walks will generally be longer, and sightings of wildlife are less guaranteed as the animals are less habituated. Mantadia is ideal for genuine wildlife enthusiasts who are happy to work for their sightings, capable of more adventurous walking, and prefer to avoid the more touristy experiences around Andasibe.
Aside from the indri lemur other species to be seen are the common brown, grey bamboo, greater dwarf, red mouse, red-bellied, and the elusive aye-aye. Mantadia has the added draw of black and white ruffed and diademed sifaka lemurs.
The birdlife is superb with over 100 species and the best guides will be able to locate the Madagascar flufftail, Madagascar wood rail, blue coua, blue vanga, long-billed greenbul, Madagascar blue pigeon, Rand’s warbler, Ward’s flycatcher and green jery amongst others.
As the sun goes down, night walks in the forest can be very rewarding, offering the opportunity to spot some of the 50 reptiles and over 80 amphibian species that have been recorded in the area as well as nocturnal species of lemur such as the Eastern woolly, Goodman’s mouse lemur and the fat tailed dwarf lemur. As the special reserve is closed after dark, walks generally take place on the road along the edge of the forest or in the nearby Orchid Garden (best for orchids in the late season from October onwards) and the Mitsinjo Community Reserve (a community association attempting to promote conservation and reforestation).