Seasons matter when it comes to wildlife in Ranomafana. Lemurs can be spotted pretty much year-round, but the best season for bird-watching is spring, from September through to December, when migratory species return to the park.
Reptiles and amphibians are at their most active in summer, from December to March; this is also the best time of year to admire the park's beautiful flora, including many orchids.
The park is divided into three parcels of land containing both primary and secondary forest. The former is more impressive, with enormous trees, but takes more hiking to reach.
The names of the trails are confusing in Ranomafana because the park changed them but the signs and documentation haven't quite caught up.
The best thing to do is to discuss your options with your guide depending on how much you want to walk and what you want to get out of the walk.
The Talatakely Trail system in Parcel III (secondary forest) is the most visited and also one of the best for spotting lemurs (walks will vary from three to four hours). There is a nice lookout (where striped mongoose are regular visitors) and a pretty waterfall popular for picnics.
In Parcel I, a patch of degraded primary forest, the three- to four-hour Vohipara Circuit doesn't get the crowds of Talatakely but is still good for lemurs. Its USP (unique selling point) however is its birdlife.
For day trips, opt for Vatoharanana: it starts with Talatakely before venturing further into primary forest. The last part of the walk is technically out of the park and allows you to see the difference between protected and unprotected land. The circuit finishes in the village of Ranomafana.
If you want the full-on experience, the multiday treks Valohoaka and Soarano are for you. They take you even deeper into the park and you get to spend the night in the forest. Few people actually take these options, so the experience is unique.