Réserve Spéciale Ankarana

Northern Madagascar

This striking and undeveloped fantasy land is home to uniquely Malagasy sights: psychedelic fields of spiky tsingy (limestone pinnacle formations) next to dry forests. Running through and under the tsingy are hidden forest-filled canyons, an extensive cave system and subterranean rivers. The park is famed for its bat-filled grottoes steeped in legend and history, where the Antakarana (the predominant tribe in northern Madagascar) took refuge from the Merina (the traditional ruling elite from the highlands) during the 18th-century tribal wars.

Guides are compulsory, and the price varies depending on which circuit you do. If you need a porter, it costs Ar40,000 per day.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Northern Madagascar attractions

1. Tourelles

0.73 MILES

Reaching this turret-shaped tsingy will take about three to four hours and is an easy walk. You will need to cross a small river during the wet season…

2. Perte des Rivières

1.09 MILES

A massive rock chasm into which three of the park’s rivers plunge during the rainy season (they emerge 20km later in the Mozambique Channel). It's an easy…

3. Grotte des Chauves-Souris

1.51 MILES

The impressive Grotte des Chauves-Souris (bat) cave has superb stalactites and stalagmites, and thousands of bats (eight species, including Commerson's…

4. Petits Tsingy

1.69 MILES

An easily accessible area of tsingy, these karst formations are close to the Grotte des Chauves-Souris or Bat Cave. The plants here are xerophytes,…

5. Tsingy Rary

2.59 MILES

The hike here takes three to four hours and is not difficult. Here you notice the difference between the limestone and volcanic rocks. Birds to look out…

6. Tsingy Meva

3.98 MILES

This tsingy extends from the northern part of Ankarana and into the southern part of the Parc National de Montagne d'Ambre. It's a two to three hour hike…

7. Grotte d'Andrafiabe

5.16 MILES

Andrafiabe takes about five hours to reach from the western entrance to the park and is moderately difficult. Both the underground cave and the 'cathedral…

8. Grotte Squelette

5.49 MILES

This cave can be reached in about two to three hours of hiking. It gets its name from the skeleton of a local warrior that was found in the cave. There…