Actually this protected area consists of two forest areas, Maromizaha and Vohidrazana. The latter means as much as “mountain of the ancestors”. In contrast, the Malagasy words maro and mizaha can have two different meanings. It may be “the place where many people do research” but also “the forest which is exploited by many people”.
Maromizaha is located directly along RN2 in Madagascar’s eastern highlands, only 150 km from the capital Antananarivo, in Alaotra-Mangoro region. One of the most visited national parks of the country, Andasibe-Mantadia, is only 20 km far from Maromizaha. Due to worsening streets, you need four hours by taxi or 4×4 from Antananarivo to Andasibe. From there, you can do day trips to Maromizaha (about 10-15 minutes by car). Taxis and Taxibrousse run between Tana and Andasibe, but are not recommendable due to high risk of accidents.
Information about the protected area:
Maromizaha is a very young protected area, existing only since 2001. It consists of 18,8 km² highland rainforest, of which Voidrazana occupies the largest part with about 12 km². Maromizaha itself covers a much smaller area, nevertheless this forest is enormously important. It is part of the forest corridor Ankeniheny-Zahamena and connects different parts of otherwise isolated rainforests.
In 2008, the Groupe d’étude et de recherche sur les primates (GERP) undertook responsibility and management of Maromizaha. GERP is a Malagasy society based in Antananarivo, founded in 1994 to protect Madagascar’s lemurs. Many scientific studies have since been done in Maromizaha. Besides, the society mainly tries to protect the forest which is still severely threatened by the surrounding villages. Various projects teach local people about sustainable agriculture and alternative sources of income, e.g. by keeping bees. Meanwhile, three villages have plant nurseries to reforest logged barren slopes, an children and adults enjoy regular education about conservation and ecotourism. Up to date, about 180 people work with, in and around the protected area of Maromizaha.
Until now, the reserve has gained few attention, and is accordingly little developed. There is one circuit of 11,4 km beginning next to the office, you should plan a whole day for this. We recommend to do this circuit “backwards”, because you will hike much less uphill this way. You can even let your 4×4 on a graveled parking lot about 600 m in front of the “forest exit”. People trying to hike the circuit “the right way round” can be sure to sweat a lot due to some steep ascents. But the breath taking view over the forest rewards for any efforts. Furthermore, you should be physically fit to walk here, because many small paths to the forest lead along rice fields and over lots of provisional, small tree trunk and plank bridges. Thanks to many streams and a river feeding this fantastic rainforest, many paths are rather muddy.
The office where you can buy tickets and find a local guide is located in a red house along RN2. Entry fees are few Euros only.
Altitudes vary between 800 and 1200 meters above sea level, so it might become rather cool in Maromizaha with temperatures around 10-15°C at night. For camping, please bring warm clothes and a well-isolating sleeping bag. During daytime, climate is comfortably warm with around 25°C. Usually, rain is falling on a regular base throughout the year.
Maromizaha is located not far from one of the most visited national parks of Madagascar, Andasibe-Mantadia. In this short distance, you will find good infrastructure in Andasibe: Hotels and lodges of almost any price range are available. Restaurants, small shops and even souvenir shops complete the supply. Maromizaha has a small campground since 2014, providing roofs for any kind of tents, huts with rustic tables and benches and cooking facilities (without equipment). Guests can use a small waterfall nearby as cold shower. A toilet cabin is existing, but there is neither running water nor electricity.
Flora and Fauna:
Biodiversity of Maromizaha’s primary rainforest inhabitates 12 species of lemurs, among them the recently in this place rediscovered Greater Bamboo Lemur (Prolemur simus). The largest lemur of Madagascar, the Indri (Indri indri), leaps through the tree canopies as diademed sifakas (Propithecus diadema) and black- and white ruffed lemurs (Varecia variegata) do. Due to low visitor numbers, lemurs are still relatively shy here. But this should not keep anyone from visiting this amazing, native rainforest.
Maromizaha is also home to some very special gems: It is one of the best places of Madagascar to find the beautiful chameleon Calumma malthe. If you are hiking towards Voidrazna and are not afraid of heights, you may even find Calumma cucullatum, an extremely rare chameleon species. With some patience, you can find many of the about 80 amphibian and reptile species of the forest in the dense rainforest or along streams. A lot of frogs live on the river banks, among them beauties such as Mantella baroni. In the night, you can watch three species of bats flying around the campground. And rumour has it that there is the bizarre Aye-Aye living around here, too.
For plant lovers, Maromizaha is a paradise: Around 430 plant species grow here, among them many orchids and endemic species such as Protorhus ditimena and Uapaca densifolia.
Summarized: If you are willing to engage into an adventure and discover the unique rainforest of Maromizaha, you will surely not regret it!