Ankarafantsika National Park in Madagascar: all you need to know!

Travel guide to Ankarafantsika National Park: a beautiful nature reserve in Madagascar! In this blog, I will tell you everything you need to know to make a great visit to the Ankarafantsika reserve.Madagascar North

Insects are buzzing around us as we walk among the lianas and trees. All of a sudden the forest comes to an end and we walk across the savannah. And just a little later we are on the edge of an impressive red ravine! Welcome to the highly varied Ankarafantsika National Park in Madagascar!

Ankarafantsika National Park

After a long flight, we land on Saturday evening at Ivato airport. That night Peter from Roadtrip Africa picks us up to bring us to our rental car and have dinner with him and his family. It’s a pleasant evening chatting about what it’s like to live in Madagascar being Dutchies.

The next morning we board the jeep that we got from Roadtrip Africa. A big car including a roof tent, so you understand, we really feel like adventurers. After a few minutes of getting used to it, we drive relaxed towards Maevatanana. The landscape we drive through is beautiful, as far as the eye can see, we see green hills and red mountains. With an occasional stopover, it takes us all day to reach Maevatanana. There is nothing else to do here, so just a place to break the distance to Ankarafantsika. Ankarafantsika is the first national park that we visit, where we arrive the next day just afternoon.

Where did we sleep in Maevatanana: in hotel Chouchou. A small room costs 45,000 Ar (€ 11), a large room with air conditioning 70,000 Ar (€ 17). We still have to acclimatize a bit and opt for air conditioning!

Camping in Ankarafantsika National Park in Madagascar

A small campsite is located at the tourist office on the RN4. With around 14 spots, a toilet block and restaurant, a great place to stay for the coming night. And since we want to test our roof tent, we decide to do that top! After a relaxed lunch, we pitch the tent and inform at the information centre what kind of hikes we can do here. Ultimately we decide not to go for a hike today, but to save it for tomorrow.

Because this means that we have no further plans, we take it easy. We walk to the nearby Lac Ravelobe, take a refreshing (cold) shower and then prepare an extensive dinner while enjoying a glass of wine.Rooftoptent Roadtrip africa by night

Hiken through the Ankarafantsika National Park

After a good night’s sleep in our rooftop tent, we get up at six in the morning. Guide Rap is already waiting for us. We walk this morning along the large lake Ravelobe and through the botanical gardens. Rap speaks pretty good English (and German as he says proudly) and talks about the different animals, plants and the park itself. He lives here with his wife (who is also a guide) and two small children but is originally from the Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar. After having worked there for a few years at a travel agency, he decided that he wanted to live in a more peaceful environment and that’s why he ended up in this park.

Baobabs in Madagascar

Full of enthusiasm he shows us where he finds that peace: along the lake, is a large jungle. Insects buzz around our heads and birds flit in all directions. After fifteen minutes we arrive at an open space where there are two huge trees: Baobabs. These trees are the symbol of Madagascar and with their grey trunk, length and bare branches at the top that is not surprising, they are beautiful.

Do you want to see more baobabs in Madagascar? Free travel guide to Avenue des Baobabs: the scenic trees of Madagascar!

Baobobs Ankarafantsika

Snakes and crocodiles in Lac Ravelobe in Madagascar

Because it rained fiercely last night (something that almost never occurs around this time of the year) most animals are hiding. Unfortunately, we do not see any lemurs. However, we do come across a small snake, a large spider and a big salamander.

Rap tells us that there are crocodiles in the lake, some are four meters long and warns us not to come near the edge. Three years ago a local girl was killed by a crocodile.Madagascar North

The red canyon of Ankarafantsika Nature Reserve

After three hours we come back to the campsite, to have a lunch break. At two o’clock we are ready again to see another side of the park with Rap and this time also his wife Olga. Again we start in a dense forest. Olga points us to two different lemurs, an owl and a sleeping bat. After about an hour, the forest stops abruptly. From one moment to the next we walk through the savannah. Between the high grass we see termite mountains and low trees. We expect to see a rhino or elephant rushing towards us every moment.


Goosebumps at the canyon!

Rap points to a telephone pole in the distance ” over there are the canyons”. We look confused, that’s not possible, we must have understood incorrectly, there is savannah as far as you can see. Thus we are astonished when he turns out to be right. Again from one moment to the next, the savannah stops and we are on the edge of a huge canyon. Below us are red, yellow and white dots, as far as we can see. It is so breathtakingly beautiful here that it gives me goosebumps. We stand still for several minutes, then we start to walk around the canyon. At half-past four, it is really time to go, in the twilight, we come back to the campsite tired, warm and dirty but above all very satisfied!Anakrafantsika

All you want to know about the Ankarafantsika National Park!

Anakarafantstika National Park is a nature park of over 160,000 hectares in the North of Madagascar. However, as a tourist you can “only” visit about 2000 hectares, the rest is a forbidden area.

Where is Ankarafantsika National Park in Madagascar?

The park is located north of the capital Antananarivo, 453 km away. We drove here ourselves and took about 9 hours (spread over two days). With a taxi-brousse (a local bus) it will also take about nine hours. Below you can see a map with the sights of Madagascar. There you will find the Ankarafantsika Reserve in the north-west!Highlights of Madagascar Travel guide Madagascar

We traveled all over Madagascar by 4×4! Read everything you need to know about car rental in Madagascar here!

What can you see in the Ankarafantstika reserve in Madagascar?

Animals in Ankarafantsika?

You can already see and hear them at the campsite: Coquerel’s sifakas. With their white fur, brown arms and beautiful eyes, they look down from a high branch, curiously. There are seven other types of lemurs in the park, such as the mongoose lemur, the western woolly lemur and the rare golden-brown mouse lemur. However, you will not see most of them because they sleep during the day.

In the Lac Ravelobe, the lake next to the RN4, are crocodiles. You will also find different species of birds around the lake, spiders (non-toxic), snakes (toxic but not deadly) and reptiles such as iguanas and chameleons.

Baobabs in Ankarafantsika

There are two mature baobabs in this park. Thirty kilometres away there is also a hectare of young baobabs, but these are not yet fully grown and therefore not open to tourists.

Canyon in Ankarafantsika

As described above you will find a spectacular canyon in this park!Madagascar NorthMadagascar North

What hikes are there in Anakarafantsika National Park?

There are four different hikes that you can do. In the morning we combined the hike in the botanical garden with the hike around the lake and the baobabs (in total 3-4 hours). In the afternoon we did the hike to the canyon (in total 3-4 hours). There is another hike through the hills, which we skipped (3 hours). It is also possible to make a night hike where you have a greater chance of seeing nocturnal animals such as the chameleon or lemur.

Tip: Do you have limited time? Then definitely choose the Canyon hike. We found this by far the nicest!

Hotels near the Ankarafantsika National Park

Campsites/lodges at the tourist office
Feel like camping? Then consider spending the night at the tourist office campground, as we did. You pay € 5,000 for this,€1.25. You can also rent a tent here for 23,000Ar.

There are also lodges at the tourist office. From € 35,000 (€ 8.55) you have a real bed and your own shower.

Tip: Rather support the local women while camping? Just two-kilometre before the tourist office you will find a campground run by the local women association. You have to call in advance to make a reservation here. The women will cook a fabulous meal for you! Contact: +261 32 47 78 606 contact person is Sole (no website yet).

Hotels in the nearby village
There are also some hotels in Andranofasika, 4 km away. Blue Vanga lodge and Lodge Tia Asity are the best known. These hotels are run by Malagasy and are very simple. These hotels are not on booking websites and can generally only be booked by entering.

Wondering if a trip through Madagascar is expensive? Read more in our Madagascar budget blog!


Where do you eat in Anakarafantsika?

We cooked once ourselves and ate once in the restaurant at the campsite (called Thi Lan). The food there is simple but very tasty. A main course costs just over € 5. In the village of Andranofasika, you can also find various restaurants and shops.

How much does it cost to visit Anakarafantsika?

First, you will need to buy a park permit for Ankarafantsika. This costs 55,000 Ar per person per day. In addition, you will need a guide, it is not allowed to enter the park without a guide. We did two hikes in one day and paid the following for this:

  • Access to the park: 2 x 55000 Ar
  • Guide to hike 1: 50,000 Ar
  • Guide hike 2: 65,000 Ar
  • Tip: 20,000 Ar

Total: 245,000 Ar or € 59.35

Read all bout our South Madagascar itinerary for a 3 week road trip!

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