Sunday, July 5, 2020

Two National Parks, Two Sides of Madagascar

Today an imaginary journey to Madagascar, a huge island with a very diverse ecology and many National Parks. These baobabs aren't in any national park, but they're so famous and impressive I put them here at the start anyway.

Amber Mountain

First we journey to the far north of the island, to the Amber Mountain Reserve. Amber Mountain is a volcanic eminence catches that more rain than the surrounding lowlands, and as a result is covered by a mountain rain forest. The park measures 45,000 acres (18,000 hectares) and is, people say, more accessible than most of Madagascar's parks.

The lush forests are full of streams and waterfalls, and there are two crater lakes.

And wildlife, including many species of lemurs

and chameleons, including the tiny Amber Mountain leaf chameleon, one of the smallest reptiles in the world.

And birds; to judge from the pictures people have posted, many tourists to Madagascar are birdwatchers, and the island has many unique species. These two are from a nice journal of a Madagascar nature tour you can read here.

Tsingy de Bermaraha

Tsingy de Bermaraha is a famous national park that encompasses the largest area of the karstic badlands that the locals call Tsingy. According to wikipedia, Tsingy comes from a Malagasy word meaning "where one cannot walk barefoot."

This spectacular topography of these stone forests crops up in several places along Madagascar's northwest coast, but this national park protects the largest and most impressive.

As you might imagine, life in the Tsingys is vertically divided. The National Park has trails laid out so you can explore parts of the upper zone, including what seems to be Madagascar's most photographed bridge.

But there are also places where you can get down into the bottom. 

Some of these crevasses hold water, so the plant life is much more lush than up top.

The area is home to many unique plants and animals, some confined to a few small enclaves within the stone forest.

There are many lemurs here, including what seems to be a tribe of very friendly national park ringtails, or at least everybody's tour includes a photograph of them.

And birds.

This is a dry area, which makes this trek a nice contrast to the wet forests of Amber Mountain. 

These two parks are just the beginning of Madagascar's diverse natural wonders, but there we will leave it for today.

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