Located about 20km from the village of Bekopaka, Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve comprises a forest of 40-50 metre high limestone peaks, and is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is one of the highlights of any visit to Madagascar.
The Tsingy are razor-sharp pinnacles produced by the erosion of limestone massifs over millions of years. Steps, boardwalks, ladders, cables and suspension bridges have been installed with phenomenal expertise to form a myriad of pathways allowing tourists to explore the Tsingy close up and in safety.
Contrary to what you might think, this limestone fortress teems with life. Described by eminent biologists as a "refuge within paradise", every bend, valley or stream reveals something totally new. The park is inhabited by 11 species of lemur including two sifaka species - Verreaux's and the rare, endangered Decken’s, and red-fronted brown lemurs. Watching the smart, white Decken's sifakas leaping from pinnacle to pinnacle effortlessly is a sight that won't soon be forgotten. The park also boasts 103 species of terrestrial and aquatic birds (including giant coua, Coquerel's coua, and Madagascar fish eagle), 15 species of bats, 22 species of amphibians and a variety of reptiles, including the famous miniscule leaf chameleon Brookesia perarmata, sound only in the reserve. Elephant's foot (or Pachypodium) and other strange succulents provide splashes of green amidst the grey limestone.
Head up the Manambolo River in a traditional dugout canoe known as a pirogue - the river cuts a spectacular gorge through the limestone on the southern boundary of the national park. Visit one of the caves filled with stalactites and stalagmites as well as a few human tombs from Madagascar’s first settlers, the Vazimba (approximately 5th century).