Marojejy National Park

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Marojejy National Park is located in the SAVA region in the northeast of Madagascar. Geographically the park lays between the Androranga river valley to the north and the Lokoho river to the south, the Andapa basin to the west and coastal plains and foothills to the east. Marojejy National Park is characterised by its impressive massif, its primary forest that covers almost the entire site and its great richness in biodiversity and endemic species.

Marojejy National Park was classified as a Natural Reserve in 1952, as a National Park in 1998 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007. The park covers an area of 60,050ha at an altitude of 2,132m.

The predominant climate of Marojejy is tropical humid with an average annual rainfall of 1,936mm, with the maximum between November and June. The altitude plays an important role in the variation of the climate. The rainfall is higher in altitude and more irregular and less in the north and northwest. In the lowland the average temperatures are about 22.3°C in July and 26.9°C in February, while on the Marojejy peaks they can drop to 1.5°C in the winter months.

Two types of soil in Marojejy: Ferralitic soils at lower elevations and sandy peat soils beyond 1,800m. The park is dominated by a granite massif characterised by very rugged forest reliefs. It has a complex shape comprising a succession of parallel or divergent ridges from many sharp peaks with steep and irregular slopes.

The Marojejy National Park with its heavy rainfalls has a very branched and deeply embedded river system. This corresponds to powerful mountain stream characteristics with very steep gradients and a predominance of large boulders in the river beds. This river system consists of several rivers having their source in the park, of which the eight most important are: Andranomadio, Andranomifototra, Manantenina, Sambava, Soahitra, Andrahanjo, Andalangy and Antsaberaoka.

The dominant ethnic group in the area is Tsimihety.

65km from Sambava along the tarred RN3B, the Marojejy National Park office can be found 200m before Manantenina. From thereon a 2.7km secondary road leads to the village of Mandena. From Mandena it is a 2.9km walk along a trail to the park entrance.

The approximate travel time by car from Antananarivo to the park is about three days. The first stretch goes along the RN4, thereafter along the RN6 (poorer condition) until Ambilobe, where the road splits direction Vohemar. This road is not passable during the rainy season from December to April! On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday a taxi-brousse leaves from Antananarivo (station Andranobevava and Anosibe Angarangarana) direction Andapa. A ticket costs 80,000 Ariary (2015). Alternatively, Air Madagascar and Madagasikara Airways offer regular scheduled flights to Sambava.


Creation and Management

Before the independence of Madagascar, the Marojejy Massif had already attracted attention of the French colonial administration. On 3rd January 1952, Marojejy was classified a Natural Reserve. This status was changed to National Park on 19th May 1998. In 2007, Marojejy National Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The management of the reserve has undergone successive phases:

  • During the first phase of the Environmental Program (1991-1998), it was jointly managed by the Forestry Department and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
  • During the second phase, the main operator for its management was the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), under the coordination of ANGAP.
  • From July 2004, this National Park is managed by ANGAP, today Madagascar National Parks, with its office in Andapa (Marojejy National Park, B.P. 19, Andapa 205, Madagascar, Tel: +261 (0)20 88 070 27).


Strategic Roles

Marojejy National Park plays a strategic role in the national network managed by Madagascar National Parks. Indeed, it is a gene pool for the network:

  • It is one of the two protected areas of the network which is home to the lemur Propithecus diadema candidus - Silky sifaka or "simpona malandy" in Malagasy ("simpona" = lemur and "malandy" = white). In fact, this species can be also found in the Anjanaharibe-Sud Special Reserve, where it is endemic.
  • It is also a well known habitat for the bird Euryceros prevostii - Helmet vanga.
  • It includes a wide variety of ecosystems and habitats that characterise the high mountains of the north.
  • It is one of the few Malagasy mountains that still has a forest in its intact primary state (less than 1,800m).
  • It is a biodiversity hotspot and exceptional endemism with the largest number of species of reptiles and amphibians known in Madagascar.


The park also plays an economic role in the region:

  • It ensures the viability of agricultural activities of the surrounding communes through the protection of soils and drainage basins.
  • It is home to several rivers, of which the eight most important provide drinking water for the people of eight rural and urban communes. When water infrastructure is properly managed it is possible to water most of the 18,000ha of the Ankaibe plain.


Conservation targets

The conservation targets of Marojejy National Park are:

  • Dense humid forest of low altitude: A habitat which ensures the viability of species, some of which are endemic like the palm Dypsis lokohensis, Dypsis mirabilis and the fern Tectaria humbertiana.

Also home to reptiles and amphibians, such as Stumpfia sp, Boophis sp1, Boophis sp2, Uroplatus sp, Brookesia karchei, Calumna gastrotaenia, Pseudoacontiasangelorium, Geodipsas sp as well as the bird Euryceros prevostii (Helmet vanga), the emblem of Marojejy National Park.

  • Mountain over 1,800m: The lowland forest is the main area for local endemic species, amongst which are the ferns Blechnum longiopettiolatum, Cyathea alticola, Cheilanthès, Elaphoglossum sp, Lindsaea sp and amphibians and reptiles Mantidactylus sp, Callumna cf brevicornis, Callumna peryerasii.

Furthermore, this type of vegetation is unique as it is only found intact in Marojejy over 1,800m, despite its existence in Tsaratanana and Andringitra.

  • The lemur Propithecus diadema candidus (Silky sifaka), which is amongst the seven rarest species of Madagascar.


The site and local population

Unfortunately, the villagers only seek to satisfy their immediate needs even at the risk of compromising the future of these natural resources. Thus the Marojejy National Park is subjected to pressures including:

  • Land clearings, which are related to the extension of slash and burn, named "tavy". The selective logging of precious woods, particularly Dalbergia sp. (rosewood or magnary), Eugeunia sp, tafonana, Weinmannia sp ("lalona"), Callophylum (vintanona), Phyllarthron madagascariensis ("antohiravina"). Indeed, the high demand for precious wood in the region is clearly one of the major causes for the logging as the locals are attracted by the relatively easy income.
  • Hunting, large lemurs such as Propithecus and Eulemurs are especially targeted by poachers. According to the Tsimihety ethnic, hunting is a common practise as lemur meat is still considered a delicacy at festivities.


Fauna

The best fauna most visible to tourists

Scientific name English name Malagasy name Description Where to find When to find
Propithecus candidus Silky sifaka Simpona Lemur endemic to the park and the region Simpona Circuit All year round
Euryceross prevostii Helmet vanga Siketribe Blue-billed bird, endemic to Madagascar Mantella Circuit and Simpona Circuit From September to March
Brookesia karchei Tangarirana Terrestrial chameleon Brookesia Valley (between Camp Mantella and Camp Marojejya) From November to March
Eulemur fulvus albifrons White-fronted brown lemur Komba Diurnal (day active) and nocturnal (night active) lemur Along the circuits Very early in the morning and towards the end of the afternoon
Uroplatus fimbriatus Common flat-tail gecko Tahafisaka Gecko with mimicry character Mantella Circuit and Waterfall Circuit All day and very easy during the night
Hapalemur griseus griseus Eastern grey bamboo lemur Bokombolo Diurnal (day active) lemur Near the Camp Mantella In the morning and afternoon
Mantella laevigata Radaka Green-backed frog Camp Mantella All year round


Mammals

The Marojejy National Park is home to many species of mammals, amongst them are:

  • 25 non-flying micromammal species
    • 14 Lipotyphla and 11 Rodentia
    • with one rodent endemic to the massif: Voalavo gymnocaudus


Lemurs

11 species of lemurs were identified in the park:

Scientific name English name Malagasy name
Propithecus diadema candidus Silky sifaka Simpona malandy
Eulemur fulvus albifrons White-fronted brown lemur Komba
Eulemur fulvus rubriventer Red-bellied lemur Barimaso
Hapalemur griseus occidentalis Western grey bamboo lemur Bokombolo
Avahi laniger laniger Eastern woolly lemur Fotsife
Lepilemur mustellinus Weasel sportive lemur Fitsidika
Cheirogaleus major Greater dwarf lemur Tsitsihy
Allocebus trichotis Hairy-eared dwarf lemur Antsangy
Daubentonia madagascariensis Aye-aye HaiHay
Microcebus rufus Brown mouse lemur Tsitsy
Phaner furcifer Masoala fork-crowned lemur Tantana

The Eulemur fulvus albifrons - White-fronted brown lemur is endemic to Marojejy and Anjanaharibe


Carnivores

Three carnivore species were identified in Marojejy National Park:

Scientific name English name Malagasy name
Cryptoprocta ferox Fossa
Galidia elegans Ring-tailed mongoose Vontsira
Fossa fossana Malagasy civet Jabady


Birds

In 2010, an inventory of Marojejy National Park's birdlife counted 118 species of birds. An overview of some of these species:

Scientific name English name Malagasy name
Eutriorchis astur Madagascar serpent eagle Firasabe
Mesitornis unicolor Brown mesite
Brachypteracias leptosomus Short-legged ground-roller Fangadiovy / Fandikalalana / Famakiakora
Geobiastes squamiger Scaly ground-roller
Phyllastrephus tenebrosus Dusky greenbul
Treron australis Madagascar green pigeon Voron'adabo
Alectronenas madagascariensis Madagascar blue pigeon Finengono
Streptopelia picturata Madagascar turtle-dove Domohina
Coracopsis vasa Greater vasa parrot Boeza be
Coracopsis nigra Lesser vasa parrot Boeza kely
Centropus toulou Madagascar coucal Toloho na monjo
Cuculus rochii Madagascar lesser cuckoo Kônko na Taontaonkafa
Coua coquereli Coquerel's coua Gory, Fandikalalana
Coua cristata Crested coua Tivoka
Coua caerulea Blue coua Mariaha
Asio capensis Marsh owl Vorondolo
Otus rutilus Madagascar scops-owl Torotoroka
Asio madagascariensis Madagascar long-eared owl Hankagna
Caprimulgus madagascariensis Madagascar nightjar Tataro
Caprimulgus enarratus Collared nightjar Tataroala (fotsifotsy vozona)
Corythornis vintsioides Madagascar kingfisher Vintsy
Ispidina madagascariensis Madagascar pygmy-kingfisher Vintsiala (mena)
Merops superciliosus Olive bee-eater Tsikorinkorehina
Eurystomus glaucurus Broad-billed roller Tsararako (vorombaratra)
Leptosomus discolor Cuckoo-roller Kirombo
Neodrepanis coruscans Sunbird asity Soinala
Neodrepanis hypoxantha Yellow-bellied sunbird-asity Soinala
Mirafra hova Madagascar bush lark Soretry
Motacilla flaviventris Madagascar wagtail Kitriotrio
Phyllastrephus madagascariensis Long-billed greenbul Tretreky
Zosterops maderaspatanus Malagasy white-eye Sabiro
Hypsipetes madagascariensis Madagascar (black) bulbul Tsokoreva
Copsychus albospecularis Madagascar magpie-robin Todiana
Saxicola torquata Stonechat Kialobanda
Nesillas typica Madagascar brush-warbler Boretika
Newtonia fanovanae Red-tailed newtonia Mitovy sabiro nefa menamena
Terpsiphone mutata Madagascar paradise-flycatcher Soketry
Nectarinia souimanga Souimanga sunbird Soy
Nectarinia notata Long-billed green sunbird Soimanga
Euryceros prevostii Helmet vanga Siketribe
Euryceros prevostii Helmet vanga Siketribe
Xenopirostris polleni Pollen's vanga Vangamaintiloha
Falculea palliata Sickle-billed vanga Voronjaza (lava sogny)
Leptopterus viridis White-headed vanga Vanga
Dicrurus forficatus Crested drongo Railovy na Lehidraonga
Corvus albus Pied crow Goaka
Ploceus nelicourvi Nelicourvi weaver Fodisaina misy maitso
Ploceus sakalava Sakalava weaver Fody fondrana mena maso
Foudia madagascariensis Madagascar red fody Fodimena
Foudia omissa Forest fody Fodiala
Lonchura nana Madagascar mannikin Tsangoritry
Bubulcus ibis Cattle egret Kilandy
Lophotibis cristata Madagascar crested ibis Lampirana
Accipiter madagascariensis Madagascar sparrowhawk Firasa
Falco newtoni Madagascar kestrel Hitsikitsika
Numida meleagris Helmeted guineafowl Akanga

The Helmet vanga is endemic to Madagascar and can be found in the northeast and central east.


Reptiles and Amphibians

Marojejy, with a 148 inventoried species and 16 species that can only be found in the massif, is a recognised endemism centre for reptiles and amphibians. As a true reservoir of species, it contains 33% of the reptiles and amphibians known in Madagascar.

An overview of identified amphibians of Marojejy:

  • Boophis sp 1
  • Boophis sp 2
  • Mantidactylus sp
  • Mantella manery - Marojejy mantella


An overview of identified reptiles of Marojejy:

  • Stumpfia sp
  • Brookesia karchei - Naturelle leaf chameleon
  • Callumna cf brevicornis
  • Callumna cf gastrotaenia
  • Callumna cf guillaumeti
  • Callumna peyrierasia
  • Geodipsas sp1 - snake
  • Geodipsas sp 2 - snake
  • Liopholidophis sp - snake
  • Pseudoacontias angelorum - skink
  • Typhlops sp - blind snake
  • Uuroplatus sp - leaf-tail gecko or flat-tailed gecko


Flora

The best flora most visible to tourists

Scientific name English name Malagasy name Description Where to find When to find
Cyathea Fanjagna Tree fern Mantella Circuit, Simpona Circuit, summit All year round
Marojejya Darianii Big-leaf palm Ravimbe Species of flowering palm tree Marojejya Circuit, Simpona Circuit All year round
Marojejya insignis Menamoso Species of palm tree Marojejya Circuit, Simpona Circuit All year round
Takhtajania perrieri Takthajania An old fossil discovered by scientists dates back to the times of dinosaurs 120 million years ago Takhtajania Circuit at 1,100m altitude 1km from the Camp Marojejya
Ficus negapoda Mandresy Triangular plant, parasitic plant
Dalbergia louvelii Violet rosewood Andramena Precious wood Mantella Circuit, Simpona Circuit
Dalbergia baronii Madagascar rosewood Hazovola mainty Precious wood Mantella Circuit, Simpona Circuit

On the floristic level,

  • 305 species of Pteridophytes, including 6 endemic species have been recorded on the Marojejy massif. This puts the park at the forefront of Malagasy protected areas for its specific richness in Pteridophytes. Pteridophytes are vascular plants that reproduce and disperse via spores.
  • over 50 palm species were inventoried. They are particularly abundant in lowland forests but remain present to the top. In terms of endemicity, Marojejy has:
  • Palms
    • Dypsis marojejyi - Madagascar foxtail palm
    • Dypsis spicata
    • Dypsis cookei
    • Dypsis lokohensis
    • Dypsis mirabilis
    • Dypsis coursii
  • Ferns
    • Asplenium cf irregulare
    • Cheilanthes sp
    • Cyathea alticola
    • Diplazium sp
    • Lindsaea sp
    • Blechnum longepettiolatum


Vegetation and habitat

The vegetation of Marojejy National Park consists mainly of a dense humid forest, which covers 92% of the park's surface area. Low-lying forests are present and account for nearly 34% of the massif. At altitudes lower than 800m, the height of the canopy reaches 25m to 30m and goes down to 2m to 4m higher up the montane region.

In terms of habitat, Marojejy consists of:

  • Low altitude rainforest (below 800m)
  • Low altitude secondary forest (below 800m)
  • Montane forest (800-1450 m)
  • High altitude rainforest(1400-1800m)
  • Moorland mountain thicket vegetation (1800m +)


Tickets, guides and entrance fees

Madagascar National Parks has a central office in Andapa, where you can inform yourself about the Marojejy National Park.

Furthermore, a local office of the park is located in Manantenina where you will find all the information to organise your stay, in particular about the circuits (tours), guides and possible accommodations.

In Manantenina you will also pay the admission fee for visiting the park, which depends on how many days will be spent in the park. Foreign adult tourists pay 45,000 Ariary and foreign children 25,000 Ariary for 1 day (price 2015). Guides are obligatory. The fee for a guide depends on the chosen tour (circuit). 12 French and English speaking guides are at your disposal. They all received training on guidance techniques, interpretation of biodiversity and in first aid. For the various tours, there are also porters available.


Circuits (Tours)

Mantella Circuit

Medium circuit, 4.3km, 2 - 3 hours trek from the park entrance to Camp Mantella. Circuit in the forest along a maintained stone path with an elevation from 250m to 450m. Steep slope.

What to see?
Discover the lowland primary forests. You will have the opportunity to encounter reptiles and amphibians (such as the frog Mantella laevigata, tree frogs and Madagascar tree boa), species of lemurs (such as bamboo lemur, White-fronted brown lemur) and species of birds (such as the Blue coua and Helmet vanga).

Along the circuit you take a break at a natural swimming pool with a waterfall. A 30-minute walk from Camp Mantella takes you to the beautiful Humbert waterfall (Cascade de Humbert), named in honour of professor Humbert - a respected botanist of the National Museum of Natural Historiy in Paris who discovered Marojejy in 1948.

Camp Mantella
The camp is located at an altitude of 450m and offers six bungalows equipped with bunk beds, mattresses, pillows and linen. At the camp there is also a sheltered eating area with fireplaces and cooking utensils.

Prices 2015
Bed: 10,000 Ariary/night, tent: 4,000 Ariary/night.
Use of kitchen (charcoal oven and cooking utensils included): Up to 6 persons 8,000 Ariary, 6 - 10 persons 10,000 Ariary, more than 10 persons 20,000 Ariary.
Guide with meals: 30,000 Ariary, guide with meals at the expense of the client: 25,000 Ariary, porter: between 6,000 and 8,000 Ariary.


Black Swimming Pool Circuit

Easy circuit, 600m, 30-minute trek from the park entrance to Camp Mantella. 100m to 600m altitude.

What to see?
This circuit is ideal for day visitors who want to spend some hours in the forest including a picnic. The path takes you through lowland forest to a waterfall with a black pool where fish can not pass. The name of this pool is Tsiapiagna.

Throughout this trek you may spot birds such as the Blue coua and Helmet vanga and the White-fronted brown lemur.

Prices 2015
Guide: 21,000 Ariary, porter: 8,000 Ariary.


Simpona Circuit

Medium to difficult circuit, 2km, 1 to 2 hours trek from Camp Mantella to Camp Marojejya. Circuit along a maintained stone path with an elvation from 450m to 775m in altitude. Watch out for slippery stones.

What to see?
This circuit is the link between Camp Mantella and Camp Marojejya. Along the route, passing through lowland forest, you can find the terrestrial chameleon Brookesia Karchei and species of endemic palms, such as Marojejya insignis. You may also have the chance to spot the Silky sifaka with its shiny white fur. The Silky sifaka is endemit ot the park. The name of this circuit comes from the Malagasy name for this lemur species: "Simpona".

At Camp Marojejya you will have the opportunity to admire the border between the lowland forest and the high altitude forest. From the camp you have beautiful views of the granitic cliffs and mountains covered with the intense green of the forests.

Camp Marojejya
The camp has a sheltered eating area and 4 bungalows equipped with bedding and kitchen utensils.

Prices 2015
Bed: 10,000 Ariary/night, tent: 4,000 Ariary/night.
Use of kitchen (charcoal oven and cooking utensils included): Up to 6 persons 8,000 Ariary, 6 - 10 persons 10,000 Ariary, more than 10 persons 20,000 Ariary.
Guide with meals: 30,000 Ariary, guide with meals at the expense of the client: 25,000 Ariary, porter: 7,000 Ariary.


Summit Circuit

Adventurous and sporty circuit, 4km, 6 to 7h hours trek from Camp Marojejya to the summit. 2.1km from Camp Marojejya there is an intermediate basecamp at 1250m altitude: Camp Simpona. Ascent from 775m to 2132m in altitude. This circuit is characterised by granite rocks. Throughout the circuit you will pass a slippery slope.

What to see?
The trek to the peak of the massif begins at Camp Marojejya. You will cross the rainforest at high altitude, maybe even walk through clouds, until reaching an open landscape of thicket from where you can overlook the whole region. From this particularly unique location you can gaze thousands of square kilometres and even see the Indian Ocean on a clear day.

In the mid-altitude forest about 1km from Camp Marojejya an old fossil of the famous Takhtajania perrieri was discovered, a plant dating back to the times of dinosaurs 120 million years ago.

Camp Simpona
Camp Simpona is located at an altitude of 1250m and is completely isolated in a wild nature. The camp has a sheltered eating area two well equipped bungalows.

Prices 2015
Bed: 10,000 Ariary/night.
Use of kitchen (charcoal oven and cooking utensils included): Up to 6 persons 8,000 Ariary, 6 - 10 persons 10,000 Ariary, more than 10 persons 20,000 Ariary.
Guide with meals: 30,000 Ariary, guide with meals at the expense of the client: 25,000 Ariary, porter: 5,000 Ariary.


Cultural highlights in the region

  • Festival Tsakaraka in Vohemar with cultural and artistic activities taking place usually in August or September.


Tourist attractions in the region

  • Ampandrozonana beach in Sambava - 2km south from the SAVA region headquarter.
  • Anjanaharibe-Sud Special Reserve - 20km from the town of Andapa. In the reserve one can spot the Takhtajania plant and the Indri, Madagascar's biggest lemur species. There is also a hot spring in the reserve.
  • Antanetiambo - private tourist site 6km from Andapa.
  • Andapa basin or "Andapa bowl" - rice-growing area of 13,000ha, 105km from Sambava.


Habits and customs in the region

  • Famadihana - "turning of the bones" (Western translation) or exhumation. On this occasion the family commemorates the life of the deceased. The body of the deceased is exhumed in order to be draped with a new shroud. Although it is a funeral ceremony there is nothing sad about it. It is rather a proof that the deceased has not been forgotten. The family organises a big party with traditional meals, music and dance. The famadihana usually takes place in the months from August to December.


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