“Tsingy” is the Malagasy name for unusual dramatic spires of limestone that rise in clusters throughout the massif of the Ankarana region. They are geologically indicative of the very unusual makeup of the entire massif, which is composed of deep canyons, many buttes and hills, caves and underground rivers (which, by the way, is the unique habitat of the unusual Malagasy crocodile).
The Ankarana Tsingy Special Reserve is 70 sq. miles with few roads – it’s mostly hiking trails. The reserve is known for its many lemurs including Perrier’s black, northern sportive and dwarfs, crowned, Sanford’s brown, as well as the usual ring-tailed mongoose, fossa and tenrecs. Some experts believe the reserve contains the highest density of primates of any forest in the world. The island’s greatest varieties of chameleons and geckos are also found here. There are 60 species of reptiles and amphibians, 96 species of birds, 50 species of mollusks and a great number of snails. Half of all the island’s endemic bat species, fourteen species, live in the caves of Ankarana.
The reserve cannot be visited at the height of the rainy season (December through February), because the canyons and caves flood. Temperatures exceed 100F in the hot season, March & April. The reserve is best visited, therefore, from May – November.