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Ranomafana Madagascar – Explorer guide
Ranomafana national park is a stunning 416 km2 lush green rainforest in Southeast Madagascar. This stretch of perfect rainforest has been protected since 1991, mainly because of the discovery of the Golden Bamboo lemur.
They’ve discovered since then that the rainforest is home to many more rare and beautiful creatures like 13 different lemurs species, 130 species of frogs, many beautiful reptiles and birds and much more!
UNESCO World Heritage
The rainforest is also UNESCO World Heritage and in Malagasy words Ranomafana actually means ‘Rano Mafana – Hot water’, because there are several hot springs in the area.
Guides and spotters
At the entrance you can arrange your guide (and spotter). It’s not allowed to explore the park on your own, you have to be guided by one of the park guides. These locals know the parks ins and outs and are a real enrichment when visiting this huge rainforest.
Entrance price Ranomafana NP
Entrance price per person: 55.000 ariary (€12,35)
Community price per person: 5.000 ariary (€1,12)
Guide: 75.000 – 125.000 ariary for different tours (€16,85 -€28,05)
So expect to pay a minimum of €60 when you visit the park with two people. Also it is normal and kind to pay the crew some extra for their effort! It means a lot to them.
How to get there
The park office is situated at the entrance of the park. You’ll see the signs when you drive towards the town of Ranomafana Madagascar on the RN25.
When to visit Ranomafana
Ranomafana rainforest can be visited year round, but keep in mind that January to March is cyclone season. These months are really wet and might be less enjoyable, and slippery!
The best months
The best time to explore the park is April, May and September to November. Great weather and not to crowded.
High season is in July, August and December so planning around these months would be great. Low season is January, February and March. These months are still possible, but like we said.. it’s cyclone season. Low season does have some perks, lower rates may apply.
You might also like this Madagascar post! “Isalo Madagascar – Explorer guide”
Hiking trails Ranomafana
There are about 5 different hiking trails throughout the park which you can choose from. They range from 4 hours to multiple days.
On all trails you’ll see wildlife and beautiful endemic plants, so pick what suits you best. Obviously the shorter hikes are the most busy, always.
This a 4 hour hike that leads you through a beautiful part of the rainforest. The trail leads to a waterfall and on the way your and spotter will look for lemurs and other animals
This is a 10 km hike through the rainforest. It is very similar to the Varibolomena hike. In addition it is slightly better for bird lovers. Lemurs can be anywhere in the park, so you will probably see them as well.
This is a 20 km hike and takes a bit longer. There is a chance you can do it in one long day, but it is mostly done in two days. Again a great hike for bird lovers and to see lemurs and other animals along the way. Big plus, it leads you to a sacred lake in the rainforest.
This is a 15 km hike and can be done in one long day or two days. The trail leads to different interesting spots, like a waterfall and a natural pool. Of course you have a big chance to see the beautiful lemurs and hopefully more..
This is again a 20 km trail through the beautiful rainforest of Ranomafana. Next to all the flora and fauna you'll see, this trail has an extra feature. It takes you to a traditional village.
One thing that you should do when you have the time, is the night tour in Ranomafana national park Madagascar. The guides are so experienced in the area and with the animals, that you will have the best time.
You will encounter other wildlife than during the day and you might even see the mouse lemur!
Gems we found
If it wasn’t for our amazing guide and spotters.. They make every part of your trip to Ranomafana NP so incredible. We were super lucky to get the amazing guide ‘Theodore aka Theo’ from the Ranomafana guides association. Funny fact for our dutch people, he also guided Geraldine Kemper when she visited the park with ‘BNN 3 op Reis’.
A few real gems we found were the Mossy leaf-tailed gecko, the Satanic leaf-tailed gecko, the mouse lemur during the night tour (see photo night tour) and the golden bamboo lemur!
The town of Ranomafana Madagascar is small, but nice. You shouldn’t expect too much of the towns around Madagascar, but you can get the real local experience there.
Get some local street food or have a beer at one of the bars, also try some great local dishes at the restaurants in town. If you’re not a vegetarian, try the zebu stew with rice!
Where to stay around Ranomafana
There’s also quite a few bed & breakfast’s and hotels around town if you want to stay a few nights near the National park, like we did.
A simple but great accommodation is Fôret Austral Ranomafana (photo below). Located along the road to Ranomafana town, you’ll find this accommodation. The cabins have a view over the Ranomafana rainforest, which makes you feel like you’re in the middle of the jungle.
Because of its location, Ranomafana town and surroundings are full of beautiful chameleons. Ask a local or your guide to see if they can show you these beautiful animals, if you haven’t seen them during your tour.
Our guide arranged for us to go to a family who have a couple of huge chameleons in their backyard trees. This was an incredible experience, because we got to meet the whole Malagasy family. The dad even gently took one of the chameleons out of the tree for us to hold it, which was so sweet!
Of course we thanked them with a tip for their hospitality.
What to pack
Depending on the months you are going, you have to pack a few things when visiting the Ranomafana rainforest. The warmer months are usually the wettest, so you’ll need to pack layers that can get wet. Rain also means there are more mosquitos and other little critters that you’ll want to be protected from, just to be sure.
So what to pack?
– Dry clothes, layers are best
– Long pants, or shorts but with high socks
– Good, sturdy walking shoes. At least make sure they’re not slippery!
– A hat when it’s going to be sunny
– Mosquito/insect repellent
– Backpack with water and some food, depending on the trail
– Tipping money for the guide & spotter
vaccinations & Precautions
Traveling to Madagascar almost always requires you to be vaccinated for certain health risks.
Below the most common health risks and vaccinations.
– Chikungunya, Dengue and Zika virus.
These are all mosquito related, so protect yourself day and night
– Malaria. Sometimes Malaria tablets are required
– DTP vaccination
– Hepatitis A vaccination
– Hepatitis B vaccination (not always)
– Rabies (not always)
– MMR vaccination (BMR in dutch)
– Tuberculosis vaccination (not always)
– Schistosomiasis (Bilharzia). It’s a parasite, found on the surface of fresh water
– Yellow fever (only when traveling from a Yellow fever area)
Disclaimer: always contact your healthcare specialist before traveling to Madagascar.
Hi! We’re Tim & Ilse
Together with our fluffy cat Snowy we travel around the world searching for adventures.