Parc National d’Andohahela

National Park in The Cape

This 760-sq-km park protects some of the last remnants of rainforest in southern Madagascar, as well as spiny forest and a remarkable 12 species of lemurs. It also boasts 129 recorded species of birds, as well as a variety of amphibians and reptiles, including crocodiles. In short, this is one of Madagascar's most diverse parks when it comes to both landscapes and wildlife. Questionable security is our only explanation for why the park remains so little known.

Its boundaries encompass the Trafonomby, Andohahela and Vohidagoro mountains, the last of which is the source of numerous rivers.

The rainforest section of the park offers the best lemur-viewing possibilities. Daytime species include the collared brown lemur, southern lesser bamboo lemur and possibly even the Milne-Edwards' sifaka. Among the occasionally seen nocturnal lemurs, there's the Fleurete's sportive lemur, and rumours persist that the park has a population of aye-ayes…see one and you've hit the jackpot.

The park currently maintains three main circuits for visitors and, with an early start, it is possible to visit the park on a day trip, but it is advisable to camp overnight. If you are interested in longer treks across the rainforest mountains, visit the MNP office in Fort Dauphin.

* Circuit Tsimelahy (3.7km, two to 2½ hours) The most popular route is an excellent trail in the bird-rich transition zone between the humid east-coast forest and the dry vegetation of the central region. There are campsites and some natural bathing pools. From Fort Dauphin, turn right at the signpost 48km along the RN13, then proceed 8km along a rough road. This circuit has only recently reopened after being closed due to banditry – check the relevant travel advisories before setting out.

* Circuit Malio A loop of 10km (four to five hours) through low-altitude humid forest. This is a bird- and amphibian-rich walk with waterfalls and natural bathing pools, but it may be inaccessible during rainy season. From Fort Dauphin, turn right after 25km on the RN13, then proceed 13km on a dirt road (4WD advisable).

* Circuit Mangatsiaka A gentle loop of 4km (two hours) in bird-rich dry forest. From Fort Dauphin, follow the RN13 for 54km, then turn right and proceed 4km on a dirt road.