Lemur Safaris in Andasibe-Mantadia National Park
The eastern rainforests of Madagascar are a must-see on any Madagascar wildlife tour. The tropical montane rainforest of Madagascar is one of the densest in the world. Its floral diversity is particularly rich. A key attraction is the Andasibe-Mantadia National Park. The park is an easy 3-4 hours scenic drive from Antananarivo (Tana). Thus it is probably the most popular wildlife destination in Madagascar. The park boasts 13 species of lemurs, chameleons and more than 100 bird species.
A big part of its attraction is the appeal of the Indri lemurs. The Indri Special Reserve (also known as the Perinet Special Reserve) protects the Indri, with some 60 family groups in the reserve.
Ideally we recommend 3 nights for your Andasibe safari as then you can visit both the Indri (Perinet) Special Reserve to see the indri and also the wilder Mantadia area. It also allows enough time to relax at your lodge, take a night walk (available in season) and even kayak across the lake to Lemur Island.
Andasibe National Park
Andasibe is separated into two parts. The most accessible part is the Indri Special Reserve. (Also known as Speciale d’Analamazaotra or the Perinet Special Reserve, its old colonial name.)
The 810 ha ‘reserve within a reserve’ has several well-maintained forest paths, which are mostly gentle in terrain. Typically you visit the Special Reserve at dawn to see the Indri lemurs when they are most active. Walking through the rainforest, as its distinctive siren-like calls emanate from the mist-covered canopy is one of the most memorable experiences of your Andasibe safari.
The Indri looks more like a teddy bear or bizarre panda than a lemur. He stands about a meter high, with a stump for a tail, black-and-white markings and a beguilingly startled expression. You will see them relatively easily, even if you stay on the marked trails. But for longer sightings you must scramble after them through the forest, craning up as they execute balletic leaps from tree to tree. Their long back legs are immensely powerful; an indri can propel itself 10 meters (30ft)!
As well as the amazing Indri lemurs you may also see the Eastern grey bamboo lemur and red-fronted brown lemur. There are also impressive reptiles like Malagasy tree boa and two foot long Parson’s chameleon on show. You might even be fortunate enough to see the giraffe-necked Weevil, the golden Mantilla frog or the leaf-tailed gecko.
Pack a headtorch as you can join a night walk in the Mitsinjo forest reserve to see nocturnal wildlife. Look out for Tenrecs (spiny hedgehog like creatures) with your guide. At night another world emerges in the forest, making night walks especially interesting. It’s also much easier to spot the chameleons. Nocturnal lemurs include the Eastern woolly lemur, Goodman’s mouse lemur and the furry-eared dwarf lemur.
For a wilder lemur safari to see the golden sifaka lemurs, we recommend visiting the Mantadia part of the Andasibe-Mantadia National Park. This has pristine forest and more challenging terrain, with steeper trails (which can be slippery in the wet summer months), so it’s best if you are reasonably fit. (However there are also some shorter, flatter trails on offer.)
The forest is primary rainforest so there is a greater variety of wildlife here including the diademed sifaka, the black-and-white ruffed lemur, common brown lemur, red-bellied lemur and the grey bamboo lemur.
Birding in Mantadia is especially good with over 100 species including the likes of the rare brown mesite, pitta-like ground-roller, brown emutail and the velvet asity all to be seen. (Your chances of good birding increases on the longer trails.)
Ideally we recommend 2-3 nights for your Andasibe safari as then you can visit both the Special Reserve and also the wilder Mantadia area. This also allows enough time to relax at your lodge, take a night walk, visit Lemur Island or take a day-long hike if you wish.
For more on other rainforest areas in Madagascar, click on The Route South for the Ranomafana National Park and click on Ankarana & the North for more on Diego Suarez and the Montagne D’Ambre reserve (Amber Mountain) in the far north of Madagascar.