Can I visit a national park alone on my own?
A visit to a national park together with a “local forest guide” is obligatory everywhere in Madagascar – with one exception: Lokobe on Nosy Be. The local guides have completed a two-year training and are licensed by Madagascar National Parks (MNP). They earn their living sustainably with ecotourism, which is definitely worth supporting. In addition, the local guides know the park best and can choose the routes that suit your individual condition. In addition, they usually know the animals of the national park and know when and where to find them best. It is therefore not necessary to walk alone. And apart from Lokobe, it is not allowed.
Where can I get a local guide?
Each national park visitor has to sign up at the park’s office. This is where you get your local guide, too. In most national parks, the local guides practice a rotation system to ensure every guide being employed at regular intervals. If you want to see something special and thus need a guide specialized in certain animals, you should get in contact with the park office early in advance. Mostly, a formal written request is needed to book a certain guide with special knowledge.
How much is a national park visit plus guide?
A visit to a national park has an average cost of 75.-200.000 Ariary for a three days ticket, some parks charge more. The local guide’s hourly wage needs to be added, it is about 25.000 Ariary per hour. Specialized or very knowledgeable guides can cost triple or fourth as much, thus you should talk about prices in advance. Prices between the national parks and guides can vary and can be raised very short-dated. On the back of this, you should give a tip if your guide was eager about animal sights or generally did a good job of leading you.
How close can I get to animals? Can I pet lemurs?
It depends on weather, season and the individual character of an animal how close you can get. Many animals, for example, certain lemur species, can be seen usually in certain areas or like reptiles, in certain seasons. But there is of course no guarantee to see a certain species. With some fortune and the right guides, you can get as close as few meters to some lemurs, but others you will “only” see at a distance of 20 meters. It is forbidden to touch or feet animals inside national parks to protect the native fauna. But be sure that exploring an animal in its natural habitat, without any barriers, cages or walls, is always a unique and unbelievable experience – no matter if the animal is ten or two meters away from you. Some animals in Madagascar are so rare, that maybe no one will find them in the wilderness anymore in 50 years. So please enjoy your visit and appreciate this amazing nature!
Can I look for animals beyond the normal round trip paths?
No. Only declared persons with scientific research assignments and local guides are allowed to walk or stay outside the marked paths. But every national park has a wide net of different paths and trail for “normal” visitors, and even rare animals can be seen in these areas. So it is usually not necessary to leave the regular trails.
Are night hikes possible?
Unfortunately, night walks are no longer permitted in all official national parks. But there are many alternatives: In all protected areas and reserves, which are run privately, by villages or NGOs, night walks are no problem at all. And it is really incredibly exciting to explore the forests of Madagascar under the starry sky!