Invite yourself into the flamingos’ kingdom in Tsimanampetsotsa!

 
The Tsimanampetsotsa National Park stretches around an eponymous lake, whose name means "there is no dolphin". Well-known as a wintering place for many species of migratory birds, this place located 85 km south of Toliara - next to a village called Ambola - is full of treasures that we invite you to discover.
 
 
 
 
 
Plunge into the first Ramsar site in Madagascar!
 
Give yourself the privilege of spending unforgettable moments in the first Ramsar site in the Great Island! Tsimanampetsotsa has indeed been classified since 1998. The site existed since 1887, and in 1927, it had become a protected nature reserve, before becoming a National Park in 2002, while management has been ensured by Madagascar National Park. It covers an area of 342 km² (24 km long and 18 km wide) with an altitude ranging from 10 meters to 160 meters.
 
Among the wetlands existing on the Great Island, Tsimanampetsotsa remains the most impressive. The park includes a pearly salt lake and limestone cliffs. A thorny forest, feature of the southwestern region of Madagascar, enhances an ecosystem that has so many interests for scientists.
 
 
 
 
Discover the island’s single salt lake!
 
According to some assumptions, the lake of Tsimanampetsotsa would be linked to the sea and it would be its resurgence. It is the one and only salt lake in Madagascar. This one will not fail to astonish you because of the whitish color of its waters. This coloring is due to its high content in calcium sulfate. You would certainly understand that swimming is not recommended here.
 
You will not meet any form of aquatic life in the waters of Lake Tsimanampetsotsa. However near its shores, you will find some edible halophile plants – in other words salt-resistant plants - called salicornia. This body of water is surrounded by a succession of breathtaking landscapes.
 
 
 
Meet the purple flamingos!
 
The wetland of Tsimanampetsotsa is worth a visit if you like observing birds. Tell yourself that you are in
the kingdom of pink flamingos, from its scientific name "phoenicopterus ruber"! During the dry season, you
will encounter two species of these birds with pinkish-white plumage, namely greater flamingos and dwarf
flamingos.
 
During your visit into the park, you will have the chance to admire some of the 72 endemic bird species that
inhabit this area. You will be lulled by the song of the "Agapornis canus", the grey-headed lovebirds which
are distinguished by their green plumage. Newton's kestrels or Malagasy kestrels also rule supreme. This
species owes its name to the illustrious British ornithologist Edward Newton who studied a specimen in
1863. The crested drongo, recognizable by its black dress will astonish you by its talent of singer. This
species of sparrow is capable of imitating the songs of other birds.
 
Go explore the caves!
 
The cliffs of the Tsimanampetsotsa National Park are home to a number of caves. We invite you to explore two of them, overlooking an underground water system. One of these paths will lead you to the underground river which is home to one of the most important places of interest: the famous blind cavefish (Typhleotris Madagascariensis) which you can easily grasp. This aquatic animal of small size actually has no eye and no pigment.
 
Do not miss the visit of the banyan cave! This one takes you to the foot of an immense fucus. This tree will impress you by its aerial roots merging with trunks and pushing into the cave. The place saves you a chance to encounter lemurs, parrots and tortoises.
 
Note that scientists discovered, in 1994 at the bottom of three caves of Tsimanampetsotsa, some marine and aquatic fossils. Lemurs, crocodiles, hippopotamuses, bats, turtles and also micro-mammals of 50 to 65 million year-old bones have been found there.
 
 
 
Be surprised by the biodiversity of the site!
 
The Tsimanampetsotsa National Park also owes its reputation to the treasure and the endemism rate of its  biodiversity, estimated at 75%. During your walk, your guide will show you some of the countless plants  used by the indigenous population for medicinal purposes, hidden in this huge thorn forest.
 
When you enter the baobab forest, you will not miss the two specimens aged a thousand: the first of 1200 years old and the second baptized "Baobab Grandmother" that would be 3000 years old. To better enjoy the wonders of Tsimanampetsotsa National Park, schedule your visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon!
 
This article was featured in Prime Magazine July 2017

Useful Information

date_range

When to go

The surrounding areas of Tsimanampetsotsa offers a dry climate with precipitation not exceeding 400mm per year. The rainfall period ranges to a maximum of one month and the temperature varies around 23°C in average. Note that during the coldest periods, temperature can drop to 15°C in the morning. To enjoy most of your visit, plan your trip between April and December!

directions

How to get there

For all your adventures in the southwest of Madagascar, we recommend you rent an off-road vehicle. To reach the Tsimanampetsotsa National Park from Antananarivo, take the RN7 road towards Toliara. Arriving at the level of the city of Andranovory, located 70 km before the capital of the south, take the RN10 road leading to Betioky, then take a junction at Befaha (your road is indicated by a sign). You will follow a dirt road for 102 km. Through the crossroad leading you to Beheloke, you will reach Efoetse, the gateway to the park. On your way, you will already enjoy the beauty of the landscape in this part of the island. In all, your trip would have lasted about three days. If you are leaving from Toliara, we advise you to travel by sea. Join the village of Anakao (about sixty kilometers south of Toliara)! Embark aboard a speedboat for a two-hour-and-a-half travel across the sea to Tsimanampetsotse! You can however travel from Anakao to Efoetse by car to live a one-hour-and-a-half adventures on the sandy road. Note also that the city of Toliara is connected to Antananarivo by regular flights.

hotel

Where to stay

For your visit to the Tsimanampetsotsa National Park, you can book your rooms at the Hotel Vahombe** in Mahavatse. The village of Anakao also offers some quality hotel deals. Hotel Atlantis Tuléar* and Hotel Longo Vezo** are among the best addresses in this charming southern locality, while Hotel Safari Vezo**, Hotel Anakao Ocean Lodge***, and Hotel Le Prince Anakao*** are excellent references. But wherever you go in the southwest of Madagascar, you will easily find a charming hotel. Downtown you can choose between Hotel Hyppocampo Club, Hotel Victory Tuléar Madagascar for a quiet night's sleep. For a perfect rejuvenation, stay at the Mikea Lodge*** and Hotel Salary Bay*** for a haven of peace so much appreciated by vacationers in Andravona. In Ifaty, establishments such as Princesse du Lagon, Villa Maroloko, Hotel Ifaty Beach Club and Hotel Les Dunes d'Ifaty will welcome you in an authentic settings.

restaurant

Where to eat

local_see

What to see

The southwest of Madagascar is a must-see attraction. Enjoy a relaxing journey in the fishermen village of Ambola after your day of sightseeing in the Tsimanampetsotsa National Park! Anakao is also renowned for the beauty of its beaches and its lagoon. This country will unveil its colorful landscapes for a breathtaking experience. Note that in 1995 in the waters of Anakao, the Vezo fishermen have discovered a specimen of coelacanth, a species of prehistoric fish, currently exhibited at the Toliara Museum. Ifaty and Mangily are also very appreciated bathing spots. You can practice snorkeling or scuba diving there.

Prime Magazine Madagascar 2018 | All Rights Reserved