If the Parc National d’Andasibe-Mantadia is your first encounter with wild lemurs, as it is for many visitors, it is hard to prepare for the grace, proximity and sheer variety of these remarkable primates. The otherworldly chorus of a family of indris (Indri indri, babakoto in Malagasy) – the most famous of the park’s denizens – reverberating through the misty, early morning forest, is an unforgettable sound.
Andasibe National Park comprises a group of small, mid-altitude forest tracts. Two hundred species of orchids bloom magnificently here (from December to March) and the forests are home to six species of diurnal and six nocturnal lemurs, some 110 species of birds, more than seventy species of reptiles and at least a hundred species of frogs – a figure that makes this the most frog-rich area on earth. In addition, there are thousands of species of insects and other invertebrates, from huge silkmoths to weird giraffe-necked weevils.
The parks have easy access and a good range of places to stay – one of which, Vakôna Forest Lodge, has a small private lemur reserve of its own. Of the protected areas, only one, the Station Forestière Analamazaotra, allows night walks, but you can also do nocturnal wildlife viewing in the trees along the quiet tarmac road between the RN2 and Andasibe village, a stretch that can yield very good sightings, including of mouse lemurs and boas.