Spanning 182 km² amongst the dry deciduous forests of northern Madagascar, the Ankarana Special Reserve is characterized by picturesque karst topography featuring large limestone pinnacles called tsingys. The park, which was established in 1956, is located about 108 km (70 mi) south of Antsiranana or Diego Suarez. Aside from its unique tsingys, the Ankarana Special Reserve also boasts of 120 km worth of vast limestone caves, tropical jungles, expansive canyons and a network of underground rivers.
Hiking through the trails of Ankarana can be strenuous, but seeking adventurers will find spectacular sights and experiences of the Malagasy wildlife a worthwhile reward. The Ankarana Reserve is home to a variety of chameleons and leaf-tailed Uroplatus geckos, as well as 100 reptile species, 50 bird species, 14 bat species and over 150 plant species. Exploring the caves, one might take sight of the only cave-living crocodiles known to the world.
Among the verdant trees of Ankarana Reserve also thrives one of the largest and most diverse population of lemurs on the planet. Various species such as crowned lemurs, Sanford’s brown lemurs, northern sportive lemurs and gray mouse lemurs roam the park. Being a refuge to these unique species, the Ankarana Special Reserve takes pride in having highest density of primates among all the forests in the world.
The Ankarana Reserve has three main entry points, of which the Mahamasina entrance is the most accessible. While camping is allowed inside the park, lodging is only available outside the reserve’s premises. Trekking remains to be the most popular activity in the Ankarana Reserve, and trips can be made independently or alongside licensed guides.
It is generally recommended for visitors to avoid the wet season in Ankarana, which runs from December to April. Due to sudden rain and rising water, trekking caves during this time is very dangerous. Many areas of the park are deemed off-limits as well. Hence, visitors should consider visiting Ankarana during the dry season which is from late April to November.