Reniala (meaning baobab in Malagasy) Private Reserve is a small 45-ha protected area less than 1km from the Mozambique Channel near the village of Ifaty-Mangily. The reserve is trying to develop eco-tourism in the area.
The bizarre spiny forest (or spiny thicket) is one of the oddest and most unique habitats on the planet. Reniala is a small community-managed reserve of only 45 ha, but is a properly protected portion of spiny forest crowded with species found nowhere else on earth. It hosts more than 2,000 plant species, 95% of which are endemic to this rare habitat, including a whole plant family, the alien-like ocotpus trees (Didieraceae).
Along the reserve's botanical trail you will come across some of the most spectacular and oldest baobabs in Madagascar (there is a giant baobab of 12.5 m diameter). In the bird sanctuary look out for mammals including the grey mouse lemurs, rare endemic reptiles including beautiful spider and radiated tortoises, and some of Madagascar's most sought-after endemic birds including red-capped coua and blue vanga. An early morning visit near guarantees sightings of two spiny forest specialities and must-see species for visiting birders; long-tailed roller and subdesert mesite.
Nearby Ifaty is also a beach destination with a number of diving and snorkeling excursions as well as kite surfing and boat trips.
Reniala Private Reserve: where to stay
: With 20 bungalows sitting right on the beach and a gorgeous infinity pool looking out over Ifaty Bay, Le Paradisier
is a simple eco-lodge just an hour from Toliara.
has just 5 spacious and stylish rooms, all with spectacular views and West-African inspired decor and artwork. There is a spa and swimming pool, and a variety of excursions are available.