Ankarana Nature Reserve


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Visit the cave-dwelling crocodiles of Ankarana


An alien landscape of 150-million-year-old middle Jurassic limestone makes up a large part of the 18,000ha Ankarana Nature Reserve. Sparse vegetation tries to cling to the rocky terrain, while millennia of rainfall have carved a myriad of caves and underground rivers out of the stone. This reserve, sacred to the local Antankarana people, is home to lemurs, chameleons, geckos, and the elusive cave-dwelling crocodile.

Only 100km of Ankarana’s massif has been explored, but already it has the longest cave system on the island – and some experts suggest on the whole of Africa, too. The forest and underground rivers of the reserve are visited by Perrier’s black lemur, dwarf lemurs, and Sanford’s brown lemur among others. A keen eye may even spot the wonderfully weird leaf-tailed geckos who are experts at camouflaging themselves as leaves. 

The reserve is of particular importance to the local Antankarana people who used the limestone caves in the past as places of refuge when escaping the onslaught of approaching enemies. Portions of the caves act as the final resting place for Antankarana kings. The Ankarana Reserve lies about 90km south of Antsiranana and is easily reached by National Road 6.

 

Highlights

  • 150-million-year-old middle-Jurassic limestone massif hides underground caves and rivers 
  • Cave-dwelling crocodiles have been found in the reserve
  • Longest cave system in Madagascar, and many guess it to also be the longest in the whole of Africa 
  • Sub-fossil remains of large extinct lemurs have been found 
  • Antankarana people have used it as a place of refuge in the past and to bury their kings
  • Found 90km south of Antsiranana and easily reached by National Road 6

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