Marojejy National Park

Travel Guide Africa Madagascar Marojejy National Park

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Introduction

Marojejy National Park is a national park in the Sava Region of northeastern Madagascar. It covers 55,500 ha and is centered on the Marojejy Massif, a mountain chain that rises to an elevation of 2,132 metres. Access to the area around the massif was restricted to research scientists when the site was set aside as a strict nature reserve in 1952. In 1998, it was opened to the public when it was converted into a national park. It became part of the World Heritage Site known as the Rainforests of the Atsinanana in 2007. Despite its rugged terrain, poaching and selective logging are still persistent problems, particularly since the start of the 2009 political crisis in Madagascar. Mining, slash-and-burn agriculture, and wood collection also pose threats to the park and its wildlife.

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Geography

The wide range of elevations and rugged topography of the massif create diverse habitats that transition quickly with changes in altitude. Warm, dense rainforest can be found at lower elevations, followed by shorter forests at higher elevations, followed still by cloud forest, and topped near the peaks with the only remaining undisturbed mountain scrub in Madagascar. Better growing conditions for plants can be found on the eastern side of the mountains, which receives more rain than the western side. This habitat diversity lends itself to high levels of biodiversity. At least 118 species of bird, 148 species of reptile and amphibian, and 11 species of lemur are known to occur within Marojejy National Park. One of the lemurs, the silky sifaka (Propithecus candidus) is listed among "The World's 25 Most Endangered Primates". The helmet vanga (Euryceros prevostii) is considered the iconic bird species of the park.

The tops of the ridges experience strong winds and offer poor soil conditions. The effect can be seen in the plant life and their growth rates. The wide range in elevations and the rugged topography also play a crucial role in creation of the varied habitats distributed across the mountain slopes by affecting air temperature, fluctuations in temperature, and humidity levels. The interplay between these factors impacts the growth and development of plants, which form the foundation of the ecosystem. The result is an extremely varied and unevenly distributed forest that covers 90% of the park.

The mountains of both Marojejy and nearby Anjanaharibe-Sud Special Reserve feed several drainage basins, including the Lokoho River, which is sourced from the western and southern slopes of Marojejy, and the Androranga River, which originates from the northern slopes of Marojejy. Both rivers travel towards Sambava and drain into the Indian Ocean. Marojejy is connected to the Anjanaharibe-Sud Special Reserve by the Betaolana corridor, a narrow mid-elevation strip of forest extending west and slightly south.

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Weather

Temperatures in the region are fairly constant, with both the daily temperature range and the seasonal range varying only slightly. February is the hottest month, averaging 25 °C, while August is the coolest, averaging 19 °C. Climbing the peaks, temperature decreases by 1 °C per 200 metres of increased altitude, and temperatures on the summit decline to 1.5 °C in July. The relative humidity for the region hovers around 87% throughout most of the year, although it rises to 97% between March and April. Rain falls every month on the southern side of the mountain, with the region receiving at least 2,300 mm of rain annually, making it one of the wettest areas in Madagascar. The northern side of the mountain is more tropical, with a 6-month dry season, and receives about 1,500 mm of rain per year. The general region receives the most rainfall during the warm season, from November through April, when heavy rain and occasional cyclones are delivered from the northwest by monsoons. During the cooler season, between May and October, lighter rains are delivered by winds from the southeast. Both temperature and rainfall vary significantly by location within the park. Lower temperatures are found at higher elevations, and the eastern slopes of the massif receive the most of the rainfall, since the western slopes lie in the rain shadow of the mountain and consequently experience a prolonged dry period.

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Opening Hours/Cost

Payment of the entrance fees, renting of the facilities, and hiring of guides, cooks, and porters are handled at either the park headquarters in Andapa or the Park Visitor Center in Manantenina, which is along the main Andapa-Sambava road, 66 kilometres from Sambava and 40 kilometres from Andapa.

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Eat/Drink

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Sleep

One path leads from the entrance of the park to the summit. There are three camps along the route: Camp Mantella at 450 metres in elevation in lowland rainforest, Camp Marojejia at 775 metres at the transition between lowland and montane rain forest, and Camp Simpona at 1,250 metres in the middle of the montane rainforest. Camp Simpona acts as a base camp for the trek to the summit, a route that stretches 2 kilometres and can take up to four or five hours to traverse.

The park is one of the only national parks in Madagascar offering wooden chalets or bungalows, in addition to having a kitchen and toilet facilities at each of its three main camps inside a primary rainforest. The housing provides beds and basic bedding, while the kitchen and eating areas are covered and offer basic cooking utensils. These three camps have basic tent sites for campers. Tent campsites are also offered outside the park, while the only other overnight accommodations outside the park are in Andapa and Sambava. The park is unable to accommodate large groups.

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This is version 1. Last edited at 12:18 on Aug 15, 16 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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