The Andringitra Massif: a prime hiking and discovery destination
The Andringitra Massif stretches over approximately sixty kilometers in the Haute Matsiatra Region of the Fianarantsoa Province. This area is one of the most beautiful panoramas in Madagascar. It is an unforgettable adventure destination for mountain hiking lovers.
A natural wonder
The Andringitra Massif was once a place of confrontation between the Betsileo ethnic groups who protected their territory from the Bara, Sakalava or Merina who wanted to extend their kingdom. In 1925, Henri Perrier de La Bâthie, a French botanist, explored the Andringitra region. In 1927, he obtained the consent of the French colonial administration to turn the central area of the massif into a nature reserve. Since 1999, the area has been declared a national park. It was recognized as a World Natural Heritage Site in 2007.
The Andringitra Massif culminates at an altitude of more than 2,600 m, including the highest peak, Imarivolanitra or Boby Peak, at an altitude of 2,658 m, the second highest peak in Madagascar. This giant of nature stretches 62 km long and 10 km wide. Thus, it covers an area of 31,160 km². The majestic “Gates of the South” marking the border between the central highlands and the wide open spaces of the south are part of the Andringitra Massif.
Developed since Precambrian times, most of the rock domes at this site are the result of a relatively sudden volcanic event. For this reason, they are mainly made of granite, pyroxene syenite or syenitic granite. The site features ridges, high mountains, deep valleys and volcanic formations.
Huge rocks, sometimes covered with greenery, granitic cliffs, deep valleys (Namoly and Tsaranoro), palm forests, lunar landscapes, natural swimming pools, impressive waterfalls, cascades and rivers mix to create an incredible setting.
-Fauna and flora
The massif’s ecosystem is divided into three categories, including low-level tropical forest, mountain forest and high-altitude vegetation. This is why the massif is home to many endemic animal and plant species. Andringitra literally means “where there are stunted plants”. The vegetation in the high mountains is shorter and the leaves smaller. Among the forests are scattered orchids, aloes, epiphytic plants, tree ferns, palm trees, pachypodiums and bamboos. A hundred species of birds fly over the massif, including unique species such as the Vanga, the Malagasy Bulbul and the ground roller. Groups of reptiles, amphibians, mammals and lemurs also occupy the massif.
The surroundings of the massif are inhabited by the Betsileo and the Bara. The surrounding landscape has been shaped by these semi-nomadic peoples: slash-and-burn rice fields on the valleys to the east of the massif, terraced rice fields on the mountainsides to the north, clear savannas to the south and west. Traditional villages with terracotta houses overlook the terraced rice fields.
Andringitra is considered a spiritual high place for the inhabitants of the region. They believe that Andringitra is home to the ancestral spirits. Bara tombs, made up of stone heaps, echo the rocky decor.
What to do?
The Andringitra region is known for Boby Peak and Andringitra National Park.
-Climbing Boby Peak
Boby Peak is the second highest peak in Madagascar. As a result, it is considered an ideal destination for trekking, which is one of the main activities here. In general, the hiking tour starts at the base camp in the village of Ambalamanandray, a village at the foot of the massif and continues for more than 3 days. For thrill-seekers, Boby Peak is ideal for climbing due to its arid peaks and the majestic and vertical façades of the Tsaranoro area. A trek in these places allows you to discover magnificent landscapes and have a breathtaking view of the surrounding region and the Isalo Massif.
-Discovering Andringitra National Park
Located in the south-east of Boby Peak, Andringitra National Park is a vast nature reserve within the Andringitra Massif. The park is a corner of paradise where hikers can refresh themselves. Tourists take advantage of this time to discover a rich and diversified fauna and flora including a multitude of endemic species.
The Andringitra Massif enjoys a humid climate thanks to the trade wind, which brings a lot of rainfall. The precipitation rate recorded in this area can reach more than 2,000 mm per year. The rainy season ends between April and May.
The average temperature in the region is 25°C during the day and 5°C at night. To visit the region and follow the hiking trail, it is best to go after the rainy season.