The national park of Ranomafana holds its name of the village of Ranomafana which means warm waters, known for its thermal springs, being in 7 km of distance. The park is covered by a wet rain forest.
Located at 400 km South Eastern of Antananarivo and at 60 km of Fianarantsoa, this national park of a total surface of 43549 ha holds its name from the village of Ranomafana (hot water). The relief is mountainous and broken, with an altitude varying from 400 to its climax at 1417 m high. The park is covered by a rain wet tropical forest; with some high plateau forests at some place and some shadowing forest. The climate is of the wet and rainy tropical type, supporting the birth of many rivers which take their source in the solid masses of the park and which furrow it, forming a natural decoration very attracting thanks to many rivers and cascades which cross the forest. These rivers in addition are emphasized and developed for various uses, agricultural and industrial, as in the case of Namorona which supplies the only hydroelectric power station of this southern center of Madagascar, run by the JIRAMA, the Malagasy water and electricity Company. The temperature varies from 14 to 20°C. Annual rain fall reaches 2600 mm. The park is open all year round but the visit is slightly more difficult between March and October because of the rain, whose frequency and volume vary according to the tropical depressions and cyclones’. Protection from heavy rain and strong hiking boots are needed.
Tourist interest of the park.
In this first ecological live museum of Madagascar, one learns how to overcome the fear of the snakes for example by taking the Placida in his arms, the typical boa of our island.
It is also possible to carry out excursions on an easy mountainous track to admire many cascades and waterfalls. The Namorona River skirts part of the park indeed. The various trails make it possible to reach steep slopes hills.
Fauna and flora. They appear among the most varied while being single in the world. As regards vegetation, one meets various medicinal plants there, like various varieties of orchids, some pitcher plants, and some giant tree ferns. This rich secondary forest knows disturbances related to erosion because of slash and burn cultivation practiced by the natives who also collect various invaluable wood species such as Palissandre woods and rose woods for buildings. The most observed animals in the park is represented by the lemurs as not less than 12 species of lemurs including 2 rare species are found there: the famous hapalémur aureus ( the golden bamboo lemur) and hapalémur simus ( the greater bamboo lemur)which nourishes mainly bamboo shoots. Visitors will also have the opportunity to see about 118 species of birds, 8 species of bats, as well a s many rodents, reptiles, Amphibians, fish (eels), spiders and butterflies.
The different trails and their curiosities:
1- Varibolo trail:
Complex Edena: One reaches it easily and it is possible to end it around Ranomafana. Guided day and night visits in the rain forest. Easy observation of lemurs with the highlight species of the park: The Golden and the Great Bamboo lemurs, of plants and other animals. Historical and cultural sites. Well arranged and well interpreted view point. Morning visit is advised.
Complex Varibolomena: More strenuous than the first one allowing an easy observation of lemurs, plants and various other animals. Historic sites and cultural. Cascades and waterfalls. Picnic spots, bathing is possible at the edge of the Namorona river. Morning start is advised.
2- Varijatsy Trail
Complex Vatoharanana: The visit can last from half-day to one day or more if one is willing to camp. Primary forest with lemurs such as Varecia variegata as well as other animals. Rare frogs observation like Mantella baroni, plants, landscapes, historic sites and cultural. Possibility of continuing up to Vohibato complex or ending around the village of Ranomafana (visit favorable from June to November)
Complex Vohibato: More strenuous hike to observe a primary forest with characteristic plants, lemurs, in particular Varecia variegata, as well as other animals. Picturesque landscapes. Historic sites and cultural. Natural swimming pool. Cascades and falls. Camping aeas. Visit of Tanala villages. (The visit will be done preferably during the dry season from June to November)
3- Sahamalaotra Trail
Easy access. Degraded primary forest with characteristic plants (palm trees, orchids). Lemurs and various other mammals. Historic sites and cultural. Special observation of birds Mantella baroni. Possibility of camping.
4- Vohiparara Trail
Complex Kidonavo: Easy access, on botanical Circuit rich in orchids: water and marsh plant species. Observation of amphibians, among which Mantella baroni.
Complex Andranonaito: Easy access. The trail tarts at the beginning of the village of Vohiparara. Large lake rich in fauna and flora - especially water plants. Terrestrial ferns and orchids. Picnic area.
Complex Andranofady: Interesting for birders. Sites and historic buildings.
5- Soarano Trail
Complex Ranomena: Strenuous trail, very rich in fauna and flora, with lemurs, water birds and wild ducks, bats, as well as orchids of which Arangis madagascariensis and Eulophiella. The largest cascade of the park is situated around here. Historic sites and cultural. Camping areas. Possibility of nocturne visit around the camp-site. Possibility of exit towards tanala villages.
Complex Vohimeva: Strenuous trail. Circuit very rich in fauna and flora of a degraded primary forest. Historic sites and cultural interesting, Picturesque and exceptional landscapes, such as the points of view on the Large Cascade. The entry is done on the level of the village of Ranomafana with Imaloka, Ambatoharanana, or in Amindratsaranonjato, and it is possible to camp
SPECIAL: Botany, ornithology, herpetology, cultures, etc…, Soarano trails and Varijatsy are especially advised for trekking in a wet forest. They are trekking adventures from 2 to 3 days according to the visitors needs’ for.
NIGHT WALK: Along Ala Mando trail, along the National highway 45, track Ala Manako in Sahamalaotra, Vatoharanana- 2 hours walk along the old trail, it is better to start around 5 p.m. Night animals in particular Fossa fossana and the smallest lemur in the world, Mouse lemurs, chameleons and frogs. The freshness of the night should be considered.