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Discover the wonders of the Tsingy de Bemaraha

Discover the wonders of the Tsingy de Bemaraha: History, the circuit and activities in Madagascar

The Complete Guide to Tsingy de Bemaraha

A short story:

The Tsingy de Bemaraha is a stunning natural wonder located in the western part of Madagascar, about 600 km from the city of Antananarivo. This incredible site is within the Bemaraha National Park, which spans 152,000 hectares and was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1990.

Originally used as shelter by early inhabitants of the island, the Tsingy has now become a place of worship and ceremony for the local population, particularly for “tromba” and tomb rituals. It holds great cultural significance for the people living in the area.

The Tsingy are unique rock formations made of limestone and fossilized seashells. They were sculpted by rainwater over hundreds of years, creating sharp peaks and craggy surfaces that resemble cathedrals. The word “Tsingy” means walking on tiptoes in Malagasy, reflecting the cautious exploration needed to navigate these otherworldly landscapes.

There are two main areas of Tsingy: the small Tsingy and the large Tsingy, which differ in height reaching up to 60 meters. The lower parts of the Tsingy have high humidity and support plant life, while the upper parts are dry and hot with soaring temperatures. Deep cavities can be found throughout the Tsingy, adding to their mysterious allure.

The Small Tsingy: Exploring Miniature Limestone Formations

The small Tsingy are like an introduction to the big Tsingy, and they’re found in the village of Bekopaka. You walk 20 meters above the ground through a narrow corridor and dense forest to reach the caves. It’s a tight squeeze through the corridor.

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The big Tsingy is made of rocky ridges and towering peaks. It’s a rugged limestone landscape covering about 72,000 hectares. The area is a chaotic expanse of sculpted limestone.

Bemaraha National Park: A Brief Overview

The Tsingy are a part of the Bemaraha National Park in Madagascar. The park is home to a diverse range of animals and plants, including rare species like lemurs, terrestrial and aquatic birds, bats, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals. There are over 400 different animal species found here.

In addition to the unique wildlife, the park also boasts more than 650 endemic plant species. A dense dry forest covering 80,000 hectares provides a safe haven for these diverse forms of life. The remainder of the park is characterized by a karstic system where unique bird species such as olive-capped couas and Madagascar fish eagles can be observed.

Two major rivers, the Manambolo and Tsiribihina flow through the park’s landscape. This area is rich in biodiversity due to its representation of animals and vegetation that are exclusive to Madagascar.

Overall, visiting the Tsingy means getting an opportunity to explore this entire natural reserve which serves as a sanctuary for many rare and endangered species.

Park Activities:

A lovely boat ride on the Manambolo River:

The Manambolo River starts in Tsiroanimandidy and flows through the village of Bekopaka, the Bemaraha National Park, and eventually empties into the Mozambique Channel.

You can take a canoe ride to explore the deep valleys of the Tsingy de Bemaraha. The landscape features cliffs and sandbanks that lead through stunning gorges.

To see the wonders of nature at the Tsingy de Bemaraha, there are several tour options available. It’s highly recommended to have a guide with you for this visit.

The Andadoany and Ankeligoa circuit

To fully appreciate the stunning Tsingy landscape, visitors can explore the canyons and navigate through the labyrinths. They can also climb to the top of the Tsingy for a panoramic view and visit the caves. The Andadoany circuit offers a 4-hour, 2km walk while the Ankeligoa circuit covers 6km with a 5-hour hike.

Andamozavaky Circuit: A Simplified Overview

To enjoy the breathtaking panoramic view of the Tsingy landscape and witness the beautiful sunset, you’ll need to hike for 4 hours on a challenging trail.

Anjohimanitsy Circuit: Exploring Anjohimanitsy

Spending a night or two exploring the mysterious world of Tsingy is an adventure worth experiencing. You will get to witness various forms of Tsingy, such as concretion galleries, limestone plateaus, canyons, crevices, cathedrals, and caves. The itinerary includes the Ankeligoa, Manambolo, and Andamozavaky circuits. There are options for a simple 1-day 5km circuit or a more challenging 2-day 9km circuit.

The journey promises to be filled with awe-inspiring sights as you marvel at the unique formations of Tsingy. Whether opting for the shorter or longer circuit, each offers its own set of discoveries and challenges. From towering cathedrals to intricate cave systems, there’s no shortage of natural wonders to explore in this otherworldly landscape.

Guides will lead you through these surreal landscapes while sharing insights into the geological processes that led to their creation. As you trek through rugged terrain, you’ll encounter breathtaking scenery and gain a deep appreciation for the sheer magnitude of nature’s artistry on display in Tsingy.

Manambolo Gorges Circuit

The pirogue journey takes you through steep gorges, lush vegetation, and dense forests. You’ll explore caves with impressive limestone formations and admire the beauty of the Tsingy before reaching the foot of the cliff. Along the way, you’ll encounter the tombs of the Vazimba. The 6-kilometer trip in a pirogue takes about 3 hours and is considered moderately challenging.

Manambolobe Circuit: A Guide to the Route

– Rappelling down a limestone well and exploring underground caves
– Journeying through the mysteries of Tsingy
– Spotting lemurs and lush canyon vegetation
– Choice of 2-day trek covering 9km or 1-day trek covering 5km, moderate difficulty.

Oliha Circuit: Simplified Explanation

– Explore natural pools, vazimba tombs, and tsingy in Manambolo Gorge.
– The trip can last about 8 hours for a round trip.

Berano Circuit: Simplified English Version

This circuit is located at the North entrance of Parc d’Antsalova. It features underground tunnels, canyons, and caves with various shapes, suitable for caving enthusiasts. The circuit is of moderate to high difficulty level.

Ranotsara Circuit

The circuit near Bekopaka features massive limestone cathedrals, dense networks of faults, deep crevices, and sculpted rock formations. Visitors can admire the panoramic view from a high lookout point on top of the Tsingy. They can also experience a sense of emptiness while crossing a 20-meter-long suspended bridge that hangs 70 meters above the ground. The trail leads through archways of Tsingy and descends into a canyon and forest tunnel. It’s possible to witness the sunset during this challenging 4 to 6-hour, 3km hike.

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Visitors looking for more challenging trails can take a test circuit to explore the unique Tsingy formations and observe diverse plant and animal species. The easy 2km, 1-hour trek offers a chance to appreciate the natural beauty of the area.

Alternatively, adventurers can embark on a mountain biking excursion across the Bemaraha plateau or experience the thrill of rappelling into limestone wells and underground caves.

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