TSINGY DE BEMARAHA is a national park located in Northwest Madagascar. There are two geological formations: The Grand Tsingy and Petite Tsingy. Over millennia, groundwater has worn away underneath the limestone, gouging caverns and fissures — leaving behind clusters of limestone towers.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the 600-square-mile limestone fortress is nearly impenetrable, with its stone spires, deep canyons and wet caves. Tsingy, from the Malagasy language, translates to: “where one cannot walk barefoot, or walking on tiptoes.”
This unusual and unforgiving landscape has created the perfect environment for a large number of endemic species of plants and animals to thrive. Traversing this landscape, there’s a distinct possibility you will encounter an animal never seen before.
How to get there:
The southern section of the Tsingy is a National Park and has been open to tourism only since 1998, and access is still quite difficult. You have options. The easiest (and most expensive way) is to charter a plane and fly there.
If you’re traveling by car, follow the RN8 from Morondava until you reach Belo-sur-Tsiribihina. From there, head north to the village of Bekopaka and the park entrance. It will take you at least a full day to drive there. The roads are terrible; make sure you have maps.
You can also book a trip down the Manambolo River, which ends in the park. And if you want everything taken care of for you, book a tour. There are quite a few tour companies in Morondava, like this one and this one.
What to consider
- The park is only open during the dry season — from April to November.
- The Grand Tsingy is only accessible between June and the beginning of November.
- Most visitors plan to stay at least three days in the park.
- If you’re looking to stay overnight, there are 3 campsites in the park and several lodges in the area which allow for a variety of budgets.
- Entry costs ~$9 for one day and ~$12 for two days, and your guide fees will vary depending on the route you choose.
- Like lemurs? You can spot 11 different species in the park — 6 of which are endemic to the park.
- More than 100 bird species have been catalogued, but there are likely more that haven’t.
- 45 species of reptiles and amphibians found in the Tsingy are also endemic.