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Parc National d’Andringitra, a colourful wonderland
Ambalavao (Madagascar), July 6th 2001

Parc National d’Andringitra has a colourful and diverse scenery with legends and fady (taboos) nearby. However, Andringitra isn’t one of the large attractions of Madagascar yet. Firstly, because it’s a relatively new park, but also because the lemurs (they found already 14 species!!!) are rarely seen in the part that has been opened for visitors. Please, let this not stop you to travel to Parc National d’Andringitra; it is just a great place to visit.

The day before we started our visit to the park, we stayed in Ambalavao, where we chartered a car with a driver for the coming day. Early in the morning we were taken to the entrance of the national park via a bumpy, sometimes steep but quiet good accessible road of around 46 km. (if it has rained a lot it seems advisable to hire a 4WD, I can imagine that a 2WD cannot handle it)

Parc National d’Andringitra has well accessible footpaths, and they are still making new ones to make also different parts of the park accessible. One can climb Pic Boby (2876 m) during a walk of around 17 kilometres (approximately 12 hours). For this hike, it is advised to allot 2 days, so you can see sunrise from the top. There is a nice camping spot 3,5 km from the top, and camping gear can normally be hired at the entrance. While a visitor will need around 12 hours to finish the hike, the name giver of this mountain may have done it a lot quicker. The story goes that there has been a competition to determine the name of this second highest mountain of Madagascar. The name of this mountain would be the same as the one who would reach the summit as first. Young, strong men lost against…a dog named Boby. A of that time, the mountain is named Pic Boby.
Kings' and Queens' falls in d'Andringitra National Park

If you want/can only stay for one day in Parc National d’Andringitra, then you can also choose for a hike of 13 kilometres, a beautiful scenic hike taking around 6 hours and it is named Davolana. This hike gives you a good impression of the variety of this park, like Granite rocks and plateaus, lots of endemic plants and colourful mosses. During the hike you keep sight on two waterfalls. The bigger one is called the queens’ fall and the smaller narrower one is called the kings’ fall. The anecdote behind it is that once upon a time there was a king and a queen who could not have any children, although they would love to have them. Therefore, they went to a doctor, who advised them to take a bath is a waterfall. The king should bathe in the kings’ fall and the queen should bathe in the queens’ fall. Moreover, a zebu should be sacrificed and they weren’t allowed to eat pork form that moment on. The king and queen did as they were tolled, and they got a beautiful and healthy child. From that moment on, the waterfalls owe their names on this couple and still it is considered fady (taboo) to eat pork in this national park.

Magical sun light

Parc National d’Andringitra is founded in 1999, and is mainly run by people living nearby. For this reason the park is considered as an example for many other parks, because it has so much commitment of its local population. One tries to combine the development of the region with protection of its natural beauty. One of the ways in which they try to achieve this, is by eco-tourism and part of the revenues are given to the locals. One is making a start in achieving this all, and the park is relatively little visited. People from the surrounding villages are very friendly and hospitable, so one can enjoy beautiful nature and great people. On the northern side of the park, the main ethnic group is called “Betsileo”. In Madagascar, Betsileo (the many invincible) are known for there expertise on agriculture especially the production of rice. It is also one of the ethnic groups who excavate the bodies of their ancestors to bury them again with lots of ceremonial

As far as I am concerned, Parc National d’Andringitra certainly deserves a visit. Madagascar is a country with lots of different attractions, and everyone should pick the things of his own taste. When your taste is a quiet, unspoiled environment with a special, colourful and mystic scenery and friendly people, Parc National d’Andringitra should be on your itinerary.

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