Ring Tailed Lemur In Madagascar

Berenty Reserve and Ifotaka Forest Safaris

Ring Tailed Lemurs

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The perfect holiday in Berenty and Ifotaka

Madagascar's most famed protected area for its abundant wildlife including ringtail lemurs and 'dancing' Verreaux' sifakas

89km inland from Fort Dauphin and on the bank of the Mandrare River, Berenty Private Reserve is an oasis of dry gallery woodland and spiny bush in a sea of sisal plantations. This southern ‘spiny desert’ looks a little like it belongs in Mexico, and stretches out as far as the eye can see. Unfortunately Madagascar’s most compellingly unique habitat is disappearing fast because of ‘hatsake’ (clearance for agriculture and pasture, and charcoal production), all the more reason to go on your tailor made Berenty Forest holiday now. Along the road the villages with small square wooden huts belong to the Antandroy, the ‘People of the Thorns’. The villages are often surrounded by fences constructed either of raketa (prickly pear) cactus or the endemic Alluaudia (octopus) trees.

Visitors may wander about unguided, as Berenty is privately owned and the network of broad paths is simple to navigate. Early mornings are most rewarding for wildlife viewing in any Malagasy forest, so it is advisable to stay for at least one night. Berenty’s ring-tail lemurs are very well habituated and its ‘dancing’ Verreaux’s sifakas are iconic. Nocturnal wildlife includes the white-footed sportive lemur, grey mouse lemur and the common tenrec, and there’s also a raucous roost of ‘flying foxes’ (Madagascar fruit bats) in the tamarind woods. Malagasy ground boa and the warty and jewel chameleons are often seen, whilst bird highlights include white-browed owl and giant coua. There is a useful information centre and an excellent small cultural and natural history museum. The museum has examples of erotic Sakalava carvings that are now nearly impossible to see in the Menabe where they originate from. There are also artefacts of the Antandroy who live here.

Another 45 minutes inland from Berenty, Ifotaka is a community-managed parcel of spiny bush. The Antandroy communities here have elected to preserve parts of the forest for ecotourism, and there are also parts which are regarded as sacred (ala fady).

Wildlife sightings on a luxury Ifotaka tour are much the same as in Berenty, and fees generated from tourism go directly to the local communities. Exemplary work done in this harsh region by Madagascar Classic Camping – which built the stylish, luxury tented Mandrare River Camp – is in part responsible for the continued success of conserving at least some of the habitat in Ifotaka.

Guests at the Mandrare River Camp are encouraged to learn about the fascinating traditions of the Antandroy people, including seeing colourful burial tombs, enjoying musical performances, visiting village markets, and if one is happening, guests can even see a wrestling (ringa) event.

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