The Amber Mountain National Park

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Things to do


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September, 2018

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The Amber Mountain, or Montagne d’Ambre, is a rainforest located in northern Madagascar. We left our accommodation, “The Litchi Tree,”:, and drove the 4km to the entrance. Having collected our local guide, Isaac, we looked at two boards: one with a map of the trails and another with the animals found in the park.

We set off on foot down a broad flat track, suitable for vehicles, with steep sides and tree roots hanging down at head height. There was some trekking up and down hill, but we took it very slowly or mora mora as they’d say in Malagasy. This allowed Isaac and our guide to spot animals. The clouds scudded quickly, tall trees waved, and tiny white butterflies floated like confetti. Unlike the dense forest at “Ranomafana National Park”:, it was much easier to see the epiphytic bird’s nest ferns growing on the tall trees.

Our first animal spot was a small, blue-nosed chameleon which Isaac picked up to show us the scale. In fallen leaves, we found the Brookesia ambergensis, one of the smallest frogs and the length of a finger nail. Fallen trees blocked our path and had to be clambered over and thick vines hung down prompting impressions of Tarzan and Jane. Later on, we spotted a baby chameleon with a humped back, Caluma ambergensis.

As we got deeper into the forest the trees became taller and straighter, with denser canopy. We spotted a group of common brown lemurs, huddling together for warmth in the high winds, but all our photographs showed was a dark blob in the trees. We stopped at the ebony tree with its fruits and were told how slow growing it was – even though it was 50 years old, it was still relatively spindly.

An avenue of elephant trees (the exposed roots resemble an elephant’s leg), displaying circular hoops on their bark. These had been imported from Chile. We also saw the elephant-ear chameleon and leaf-tailed gecko (Uroplatus gigantica), hanging down on a branch – it was incredibly hard to see it, even when pointed out. Eventually, we crossed a small wooden bridge and arrived at the waterfall with a 100-foot drop before hiking back to the picnic area, for a fine feast provided by our hotel.

On our second hike the following day, we spotted two mating stick insects (which are said to be difficult to spot as they usually inhabit deeper into the forest), leaf-tailed gecko and crown lemurs, a male and female with baby on her back. We headed for Lac Mahasarika, the smallest of six volcanic crater lakes. We started climbing down on either cut out steps or on tree roots and arrived at the lake which provides water to the nearby town of Diego Suarez. The trees all around were bleached white as they are submerged during the rainy season. This time, our walk was slightly shorter, and we headed back to The Litchi Tree for lunch.

Helen Jackson

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