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Tsimanampesotse National Park

During my stays in Madagascar, I have had the opportunity to accompany scientists in their field research. Collecting pollen, flowers, bark samples, or making an inventory of species, these missions have enabled me to see the island from a different angle and to visit some incredible locations. That is how I discovered Tsimanampesotse National Park.

Destination: Tsimanampesotse

For the previous two weeks my colleague and friend, Emilson, and I had been travelling the bush in search of baobabs.

After a long journey by bush taxi from the capital to Tulear, we finally arrived in Tsimanampesotse National Park to make an inventory of the species observed in the region. Having travelled the magnificent coastal track that links Anakao with the park, we pitched our tent and prepared for the next day. In the evening, we listened to the sounds of the animals of the park all around us - the place is magical.

Treasure hunting

The next morning we enteredthe park, equipped with our GPS. The game, sorry, the job was to go out into the field to observe the specimens located by satellite, which we had the GPS coordinates for. We had to gather seeds, fruit and bark for analysis in a laboratory to determine the evolution of the species.

So we crossed the park, composed of thorny shrubs, pachypodiums with spectacular shapes, huge banyan trees whose roots fall from the branches and plunge into the ground, and of course many baobabs. The latter are huge, with branches that are either tangled towards the sky or are small, stunted and puffy.

In the evening, after criss-crossing a good part of the park, we returned to the camp for the night.

Discovering the flora and fauna of the park

Parallel to this mission of inventory conducted by my colleague, I was carrying out a study on tourism linked to the emblematic species of Madagascar. So we decided to dedicate the rest of our stay to the discovery of the many animal and plant species of the park.

We returned to the limestone plateau which constitutes a large part of the park. Our journey through the thorny forest allowed us to glimpse a few radiated turtles, many birds including some very beautiful blue couas and several reptiles... and gave an atmosphere of adventure to our trip.

At a bend in the trail, we found a cave that is the habitat of a very rare fish, the Typhleotris. Little by little the absence of daylight has made the use of eyes unnecessary and today the fish is totally blind. We left it alone and continued our way, searching for new species.

After a day's walk, we came to a huge lake whose waters change colour during the day, passing from a topaz green to turquoise. Lake Tsimanampesotse, which means "without dolphins", shelters colonies of several hundreds of pink flamingos, which offer a magnificent show at sunset.

After spending a few days in the park, it was time for us to head back to the capital, with our bags loaded with samples and our heads full of memories.

Simon Hoffmann
185 contributions
Updated 3 April 2018
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