Montagne d’Ambre (Amber Mountain) National Park is one of the most visitor-friendly parks in Madagascar. Located in the north, a couple of hours drive from Diego Suarez (don’t be fooled: it looks very close on the map but Malagasy roads cannot be defined on the same scale as normal roads), it has well-marked and maintained trails. It is the first protected area on the island that involved local people in all stages of planning and development of the park, and ecotourism is now an important part of the local economy. Within the park are several places that are considered sacred by the local population. They are well-marked with information on how to respect the space (for instance taking of your hat) and it is not uncommon to meet local people on their way to or from these places where they honour their ancestors.
Montagne d’Ambre is a montane rainforest which lies at between 850m and 1475m altitude. This gives it a relatively comfortable climate, and an absolutely fascinating flora and fauna. It is like walking in a fairytale forest, surrounded by giant trees and flowering orchids where lemurs are stirring high above and chameleons are hiding in broad daylight, comforted by their superb camouflage. If it hadn’t been for our skilled guide, we would never have spotted even one of them!
But, as with most nature experiences, words can never quite describe the magic so I will let the photos do the talking!