Why Mantadia | If Andasibe was just the trailer of why Madagascar is a natural paradise, then Mantadia presents the full movie. An expansive forest, often skipped by amateur tourists, Mantadia is the one of the least unexplored protected area in the whole of central Madagascar. Mantadia also a rare glimpse as how a low-altitude rain forest looked like with the human presence. The landscape is still devoid of human imprints and nature can be appreciated in all its beauty. Sightings are pure; last for long time periods allowing more time for the photographers. Pureness of Mantadia ecosystem is simply unmatched.
Travel-Tricks | Mantadia is well-connected but somewhat off the main tourist route. It can be reached from Andasibe with a drive of little over 2 hours. Look out for the colonial imprints as you move past Andasibe.
Things to do | Just as you move into the protected area, a vast pristine landscape opens up. Hiking and camping options are available in plenty. The patch between the park entry office to the parking lot teems with wildlife and a true nature lover would always feel-like getting down and explore. Skipping the Rianasoa (1-hour) and Sacred Waterfall (2-hour), we opted for the Tsakoka Trail (3-hours). For serious hikers, there are trekking circuits of varying lengths; from 10 hours to 2-3 days with camping inside the park. Just as started our trail, we could get a feel that some surprises are coming our way. The whole area was wet and slippery; often making it difficult to tread ahead.
After a while we hiked upwards to reach a place that opened up vast stretches of Mantadia. With a sudden gush of air, tiny droplets of water overpowered us as we moved into a thatched shed. The scenery was unparalleled; with mist and rain blending together, opening and closing the natural vistas. If all this was not enough, a long wailing sound called for attention. Tiana who was looking around for lemurs came in, “What you hear are the Indris. Hopefully we will see them soon.” As the rain abated, he moved on. This is when the animals started to turn up. A bunch of Red Bellied Lemur (Eulemur Rubriventer) were the first, followed by the Black and White Ruffed Lemur (Varecia Variegata) but the real show was put on by a family of 10-12 Diademed Sifakas (Propithcus Diadema). The swiftness in which they raced past us was unbelievable, hopping from one tree trunk to other in quick succession.
Travel Tips | Don’t miss to take note of smaller things around you; even the small insects, spiders, reptiles and the flora is so enchantingly beautiful. Take time to observe nature rather than simply treading through. At Mantadia, rain is always around the corner so be ready with raincoat and shields to cover your cameras. Your rewards will increase manifold if you are in company of an accomplished local guide. Tiana (EmailJ) can be trusted for his knowledge of the jungle and sharp reflexes in tracking wildlife.