West Madagascar stretches from Anjajavy, through Tsingy Bemaraha National Park, right down to the laidback coastal town of Manafiafy, set on the southeast coast, 40 miles north of Taolagnaro .
Defined by its sedimentary rock formations and distinctive deep coves and harbours, which are sheltered from the cyclones coming in from the east, West as an area has attracted settlers, traders, merchants and even pirates from Africa, the Middle East and Europe since long before the birth of Christ. Given this, the area has traditionally acted as a link between Madagascar and the outside world. In terms of travel, three areas are of special interest: Anjajavy Private Game Reserve, Tsingy Bemaraha National Park, and Morondava.
Accessible only by air, Anjajavy is a remote private game reserve in the northwest of the island. Made up of 450 hectares and bordering the coast, it is home to over 1,800 plant species, many of which are medicinal. Walks through the bush bring with it the opportunity to spot many of the island’s endemic species, including two diurnal and two nocturnal lemur, forest chameleons, frogs, bush pigs, and the much-revered fossa. Morambo Bay with its famous ‘floating islands’ are within distance of Anjajavy via short boat trop. This area’s justifiably famous for its limestone coves and giant baobab trees.
Equally well-known for its forests of karstic limestone structures, Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1927. The Tsingies are karstic formations created by acidic water eroding the surface of limestone cracks, the result vast underground drainage systems and dramatic limestone structures. In between these lies the Manobolo River, surrounded by riverine and mangrove swamps. Owing to the geomorphological conditions of the area, there are a large number of endemic species throughout the park, including 11 species of lemur, six species of bird, 17 species of reptile (the world’s smallest chameleon included), and a species of rodent that is found nowhere else in Madagascar.
Finally, south of Tsingy and on the coast lies Morondava, a sleepy seaside town, famous in part for the ‘Avenue of the Baobabs’, which are a line of 800-year-old giant baobab trees that represent a forest that was once here before the time of deforestation making way for sugar cane plantations. Aside from this, Morondava itself is an old town with sandy roads, crumbling clapboard houses, and serves as a fine stopover between safaris.