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Ranomafana National Park (or Parc National de Ranomafana) in Madagascar is the home of the rare golden bamboo lemur, though many other lemur, bird, and chameleon species can be found in its rainforest. Some of the lemurs here have been studied closely for years, with the result that they are habituated to humans and will sit nibbling in an unconcerned fashion while you take their photo. The trails are not in great condition, so expect to be pushing branches out of the way and looking for footholds on the uphill sections.
The entry fee per day is Ar25,000 (Oct 2009) for non-Malagasy. The guiding rates are based on defined circuits, but the guides seem to prefer to ignore the circuits and simply use the rate/estimated time as a basis for their own itineraries. This means that you will pay, say, Ar22,000 (Oct 2009) for 3 hours but Ar35,000 (Oct 2009) for 4 hours - you might think that the cost per hour should decrease as the number of hours increases, but no. Some English-speaking guides are available. Night walks take place outside of the park and cost Ar20,000 (Oct 2009) for 1-2 hours.
It takes about 2 hours to reach the park from Fianarantsoa by taxi-brousse, costing Ar5,000 (Oct 2009). Ranomafana village (where most of the accommodation is) is about 10 minutes beyond the park.
If you don't have your own transport, then you would be advised to stay close to the park entrance rather than in the village. Transport from the village to the park is infrequent, and it's a stiff 6.5 kilometres uphill walk if you have to do it on foot (there used to be an ANGAP shuttle but it no longer runs). Also worth bearing in mind is that the best time to find creatures in the park is first thing in the morning.
Chez Gaspard (run by the Catholic Mission) has some pleasant cottages in the village. At night, you can conduct your own night safari to see a great selection of frogs and spiders in the grounds. A cottage costs Ar38,000 (Oct 2009).
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