A must in northern Madagascar: the Red Tsingy

We are all alone when we walk among the beautiful red sculptures. Everything is red: red sand, red rivers and fascinating red shapes around us. Furthermore, there is nothing or nobody around us. Unbelievable, the Red Tsingy (or Rouge Tsingy), such a beautiful nature reserve and we are the only one!Red Tsingy


But first…

“Oh no … I lost the drone …” Ries comes to the car in a panic. I am sitting in the driver’s seat and have just driven a part of the route so that Ries could make a video of the car in this beautiful landscape. We are on our way to the Red Tsingy, via a winding dirt road between a green and sometimes red landscape. And now the drone has crashed … “Okay and now what…?” I ask hesitantly. “I don’t know either …” says Ries. Hmm, the roadside runs down a steep slope, alongside a deep canyon. I look desperately at Ries … “Do you have any idea where it can be and please don’t say he is in the canyon?” Ries looks concentratedly at his drone control app, looking for a way to reconstruct where the drone crashed. He seems to have found something and so we start searching.

Internally cursing on that stupid drone (nickname Sparky), I struggle between the thickets. After two minutes I am already completely covered in scratches of the thorns. My God, we are in week one of our four months of travelling and have already lost that stupid thing, well great! While searching for a trace with the help of only a little dot on the map, we slowly descend the slope. Our legs are trembling with exertion, sweat runs down my back. And then … after an hour of searching, Ries sees the yellow drone. Thank God! Luckily the drone still works. Tired but relieved, we climb up the slope and trudge to the car. With the air conditioning at full speed, we drive on to the Red Tsingy.Red Tsingy


Red Tsingy, red rivers and red sand

Once there, we park the car in a brand new parking lot. Small signs point the way to a brand new staircase with a perfectly laid track below. We are not used to this at all in Madagascar … are we in the right place? But indeed, we walk downstairs and see the first sculptures. At the bottom of a canyon, surrounded by green forests, lies the red sand of the red tsingy. The first sculptures that we see are relatively small, but via a path (indicated by silver stones) we continue to walk along the edges of the canyon. Sometimes we have to cross a small red mud stream, once we cross a real red river. And every time we see larger and larger sculptures looming.Red Tsingy

Red Tsingy is not a Tsingy at all

From afar, the sculptures resemble the limestone towers we saw in Ankarana National Park yesterday, but as we get closer they are somewhat different. The Red Tsingy are not Tsingy at all. It is not limestone that we see here, but dried up mudflows, or as the Malagasy call it “Lavaka”. Lavaka is the result of erosion, caused by huge deforestation throughout Madagascar. So actually a very sad origin. Currently, 80% of the original forest (and associated life) has already been felled.

So this park is actually a beautiful result with a sad rootage, but a visit to the park (through the entrance tickets) does make a positive contribution to the conservation and protection of nature here and the training of rangers.

Canyon

After about an hour we walk up the stairs again, we have walked the first circuit. Once we get to the car and drive a little further, we see that there are two more circuits, the last one starting at a restaurant and a beautiful garden which are currently being built. Unfortunately, we are running out of time and we decide to skip the last part. We do take a look at the top of the canyon. From here you have a beautiful view of the various Tsingy with green forests and mountains behind it.

We get in the car and look at each other. How is it possible that nobody else is here while it is such a beautiful and accessible park? Definitely recommended!Tsingy Rouge


Everything you need to know about the Red Tsingy in Madagascar

As I described, people are building new facilities and tracks around the Red Tsingy, it is very easy to reach now, but once all this is finished, I think it’s an even nicer place to visit. For example, in the future, there will also be a campsite including showers, and trained guides can tell you more about this place.

Good to know is that there are several Tsingy that you can visit. The first parking place where we started is only part of the park. Here you can walk a circuit of about an hour, then you can drive a little further to the other circuits. There are also several viewpoints from where you get a beautiful view of the canyon.Red Tsingy

Where is the Red Tsingy and how do you get here?

At about 45 kilometers from Diego-Suarez (Antisarana) and 45 kilometers from Ankarana National Park, this is the perfect stopover for a day of travel between these two places. You reach the entrance of the park by turning the road a few kilometers north of the village of Sadjoavato and driving under a large gate. “Rouge Tsingy” is written on the gate.

After a few hundred meters you will arrive at a small gate where you can buy your ticket. Then it is another 20 kilometers (30 minutes) on a dirt road (small parts are asphalted) that is actually in a better state than the RN6 (which is full of holes).

Tip: You will have a beautiful view of the Indian Ocean from the sandy road that leads to the Red Tsingy. Nice to stop for a few photos.Tsingy Rouge

Are you going with a guide and how long do you need for the Red Tsingy?

There are currently no guides in the Red Tsingy. It is an easy route so you will definitely not get lost. In the future there will be guides, perhaps they will even make the use of a guide mandatory. In two to three hours you can see the entire park. There are several places in the park where you can have a picnic. Please note that there are no restaurants in the reserve (yet).

What does a visit to the Red Tsingy cost?

You need an access ticket. That costs 10,000 Ar per person. In total, our visit cost 20,000 Ar, converted € 5.00.

Tip: the Red Tsingy seems to be the best just after sunrise (7 am) or just before sunset (4 pm).


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All you need to know about the Red Tsingy in Northern Madagascar


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