The letter sequence is an abbreviation for Vondron’olona miaro mitia ala, in English „Local people love the forest“.
Andasibe is located about 130 km away from the capital Antananarivo and one of the major attractions for travelers in Madagascar due to its national park Andasibe-Mantadia. By car you can reach the village in approximately four hours. V.O.I.M.M.A. is a recommendable small reserve within sight of Andasibe’s train station.
Information about the reserve:
The name says it all: In 2012, villagers from Andasibe founded the reserve as an alternative to the government-led national park in the neighborhood. The local people wanted to manage their land on their own again and be a part of ecotourism in this area. Today 0,4 km² of primary rainforest belongs to the young reserve’s area, which does not only serve recreational purposes but also informs local people about conservation and ecotourism. Ten employees care for a small office, a souvenir shop, and the forest itself. Half of the generated money is used for several projects in Andasibe, e.g. building water taps or supporting a small local hospital. Thus V.O.I.M.M.A. follows similar projects like Anja Community Reserve, which predicate on sustainable use of their threatened rainforests. Until now, there are only a few of these reserves in Madagascar, which makes each of them even more valuable.
The reserve is open daily from 6.30 in the morning until shortly before sunset, around 5.30 p.m. Entrance fees can be paid at the park entrance, it is 15.000 to 30.000 Ariary (5 to 10 €) per person depending on the length of your visit. All-round trips through the rain forest are easy to walk, and the few steep parts are mostly well affixed.
The climate in Andasibe is mostly comfortably warm during the daytime, but it can get quite cold in the nights. And it’s of course always wet, even during the “dry” season, so please bring your raincoat and waterproof boots.
Andasibe’s infrastructure is really good. You can choose restaurants and hotels of your choice and budget, almost all have warm water and electricity available all day long. Nowadays some even offer free wifi. There is also a campground in the neighboured Mitsinjo reserve.
Flora & Fauna:
Despite its small size, the reserve is an untouched paradise for endemic animals and plants, where you can spend easily a whole day and enjoy pure nature. Some group of Indris, the biggest lemur on Earth, can be watched here in its natural habitat, and its white-headed relatives, the diademed sifakas (Propithecus diadema), jump between the treetops, too. Some other lemurs such as wooly lemurs (Avahi laniger) can be seen and you will surely find your personal favorite among these unique animals.
For reptiles and amphibian lovers, the reserve offers countless frogs along its crystal clear river (among them Boophis pyrrhus, Boophis viridis, and madagascariensis) and several amazing chameleons Chamäleons (Furcifer wilsii, Calumma parsonii cristifer, Calumma nasutum and brevicorne) in the forest. This is also a place to find the unique satanic leaf-tailed gecko (Uroplatus phantasticus). Bizarre insects like the famous giraffe-necked weevil (Trachelophorus giraffae) are part of the forest, too.
Since it is not a national park, V.O.I.M.M.A. reserve is open for night walks by request. In the dark, the forest shows its spooky, but not less fascinating side. You will be surprised how many animals can be found under the starry sky!