Berenty Reserve

The mixture of tame lemurs, comfortable accommodation and the tranquillity of the forest trails make this the Madagascar memory for many people.

This small private reserve some 3 hours’ drive west of Taolagnaro is one of the most famous in Madagascar, not least for being the site where renowned primatologist Alison Jolly studied lemurs for five decades. It’s pricey but most visitors love it for the combination of tame lemurs, reasonably comfy accommodation, knowledgeable guides and easy forest trails. 

Berenty is most famous for its lemurs; if you have ever seen these in a TV documentary, chances are they were filmed here. Brown lemurs, ring-tails and sifakas are all guaranteed sightings. There are approximately 500 ring-tailed lemurs in Berenty, and the population has stayed remarkably stable considering only a quarter of babies survive to adulthood. The females are dominant over the males and receptive to mating for only a week or so in April or May, so there is much competition among males for this once-a-year treat. The young are born in September.

Verreaux's sifaka, Madagascar © Daniel Austin
Berenty Reserve is home to around 300 Verreaux’s sifakas © Daniel Austin

Attractive though they are, no ring-tail can compete with the Verreaux’s sifaka for soft-toy cuddliness, with its creamy white fur, brown cap, and black face. There are about 300 of them in the reserve. Unlike ring-tails, they only rarely come down to the ground but, when they do, the length of their legs in comparison with their short arms necessitates a
comical form of locomotion: jumping with feet together like competitors in a sack race. The red-fronted brown lemurs were introduced from the west and are now well established and almost as tame as the ring-tails.

There are some 30 bungalows and rooms as well as a restaurant within the reserve complex. Don’t try turning up unannounced – they generally insist you use their transfers from Taolagnaro. .