Hilary Bradt, founder of Bradt Travel Guides, reflects on the pros, cons and ultimate ambiguity surrounding cultural tourism.Read more...
Ranomafana National Park
Black-and-white ruffed lemurs are common at Ranomafana National Park © Sergey Didenko, Shutterstock
Even if you saw no wildlife, there is enough variety in the vegetation and scenery, and enough pleasure in walking the well-constructed trails, to make a visit worthwhile.
The name Ranomafana means ‘hot water’ and it was the waters, not the lemurs, that drew visitors in the colonial days and financed the building of the once-elegant Hôtel Station Thermale de Ranomafana. These days the baths are often ignored by visitors anxious to visit the eponymous national park. This hitherto unprotected fragment of mid-altitude rainforest first came to the world’s attention with the discovery of the golden bamboo lemur in 1986 and is particularly rich in wildlife.
Among the trees are 11 further species of lemur, including red-fronted brown, redbellied and black-and-white ruffed lemurs, as well as Milne-Edwards’ sifaka, two more types of bamboo lemur and five nocturnal species. Then there are the birds: more than a hundred species with 36 endemic. And the reptiles. And the butterflies and other insects. Even if you saw no wildlife, there is enough variety in the vegetation and scenery, and enough pleasure in walking the well-constructed trails, to make a visit worthwhile.
You are most likely to see red-fronted brown lemurs, grey bamboo lemurs and the rarer red-bellied lemur. Star attractions such as greater bamboo lemur and golden bamboo lemur are now fairly frequently seen. There is also the spectacular Milne-Edwards’ sifaka – dark brown with cream-coloured sides.