Tsingy de Bemaraha

Madagascar first and main extraordinary site on the UNESCO heritage is the Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve, in the mid west: “The Reserve offers a wide variety of geomorphological structures. It is a veritable cathedral of limestone and offers one of the most spectacular natural landscapes of the Grand Island and even of the world. The western part of the plateau presents a very dissected or ‘lapiezée’ relief, most of which is covered by a dense, dry and deciduous forest. In its eastern part, the forest is interspersed by savannas.”
Access remains difficult and a 4×4 is essential. So it is better to join a group. Allow half a day while in Belo-sur-Tsiribihna to drive there, one full day visiting the Tsingys (large one in the morning and small in the afternoon) and one day to drive to Morondava. It’s a good combination with the descent of the Tsiribihna river for a ride over a week. Otherwise, you could get organized in Morondava.
The Belo to Bekopaka track is 100km long. It is regularly cut by torrents formed by the rains and cyclones. The organized deviations looks sometimes worse than the main damaged track. You really have to have a talented and experienced driver to cross the mudslides and other rivers! It’s NOT a fun drive you can manage on your own, like the Fraser Island in Australia could be, it’s another class of driving! It is common to see a vehicle stuck on the way, but solidarity among drivers is exemplary! However is better not to be the last of the day! The night of arrival is exhausting for passengers, what about the drivers!
This is the big day, we put climbing harnesses for a “via ferratta”. It’s more a touristic joke for me, really not necessary compared to what can be seen North of Italy (Garda Lake). I suppose it makes the site accessible to a wider audience, although you first have to go over the 4×4 drive, I wonder how close you can get there by air (plane or helicopter).
The geological formations are very impressive! It’s like big stones cut by an ax! It’s a lot of fun to recognize shapes in it.

The small Tsingys circuit is a nice labyrinth, we go up and down, find a tiny path (40cm width) between the blocks! We also meet a group of brown lemurs.

The beautiful day is worth the effort with 2 days drive on the track if you consider the track as a full part of the trip. Today, David is 37 years old: a nice birthday present! We all end in a disco to celebrate that.
I met a couple from La Reunion who just got down on the the other river, the Manambolo coming straight to Bekopaka. We had their bicycle on the canoes! If only I could met them earlier with my own bike! So let’s think about the tracks: The great Tsingys are 17km away from Bekopaka. It tooks us 90 min on a 4×4, but was thinking I would have been as fast on a mountain bike, with more fun. The main track from Bekopaka to Morondava is about 200km. Not the easiest, but doable on bike, if you have 3 days. As usual, the large holes in the track are among the most difficult passages in 4×4, but not an issue on mountain bikes. However, the 4WD can fly over the sandy areas that would be very tough on bike. Muddy passages or river, for which the 4WD Mode is activated, are probably the most difficult part on mountain bike.
To continue to Morondava, you must first resume the same track to Belo, cross the river and continue the trail south.

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