The mysterious stone forest in Madagascar
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A place where we cannot walk
Local people call the boulders "tsingy", meaning that visitors cannot walk in Malagasy. This unique stone structure has been formed over time and today becomes an important part of Madagascar's Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park. The 1,500 square kilometer sanctuary is also recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
An attractive destination
The rocky structure was almost inaccessible until the 1990s, when the French explorer Jean-Claude Dobrilla founded Antsika organization to help the residents in Malagasy to preserve and make profit from their natural resources.
Thanks largely to the great help from the local people, the Antsika members have built suspension bridges, cables, hooks and ladders for explorers. They also train local guides for climbing skills and equipment maintenance. More than nine years after the establishment of Antsika, Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park becomes the most popular tourist attraction in Madagascar.
While amateur climbers can now reach safe Tsingy peaks, the journey to Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park is not easy at all. Located on the west coast of Madagascar, this nature reserve is accessible only by dirt roads that often become muddy during the six months of the rainy season. There are two major rivers crossing the route: Tsiribihina and the Manambolo, full of crocodiles.
But despite its cold, dangerous appearance, the labyrinth of 300ft stones is home to a number of animal species, including 11 types of lemur.
About 20km from Morondava, visitors can see Madagascar's baobab. Its striking landscape draws travelers from around the world, making it one of the most visited locations in the region.
The gateway of sharp stone forest:
After crossing the second river Manambolo, the dirt road ends at the small village of Bekopaka. This is home to the guides and staff at Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park. The village is also the headquarters of the National Park, where visitors can ask for permission as well as hire guides and climbing equipment to conquer Tsingy.
Conquering the tsingy stone forest
After a journey of about 3 hours from the village of Bekopaka, visitors can conquer the sharp rocky peaks. In the journey, you can experience the feeling of crawling through the caves and slipping through the narrow slit.
Scenery on the stone forest
When standing on the suspension bridges and observatories, you can have a vision of miles along the arid plateau. From here, visitors can feel the majesty and vastness of the unique stone forest in Madagascar.
By: Christina Baker