Ranomafana draws visitors from far and wide for its Lemurs and Birds - yet even without the wildlife there is a huge amount of pleasure to be derived from the variety in vegetation and scenery while walking along the multiple well-constructed trails.
Ranomafana means "hot water" and it was the, still functioning, public baths that first drew visitors here - a stop on the railway line between the Central Highlands and the coast.
Then in 1985, the Golden Bamboo Lemur, a hitherto undescribed species, was discovered which led, in 1991, to the creation of Ranomafana National Park - 415 kms of mountain rainforest among of the most picturesque parks in the country. Ranomafana is now one of the island's flagship conservation projects with community involvement and a world-class research station - which just goes to show what can happen when enough people care.
Ironically perhaps, a quest to see the Golden Bamboo Lemur can bring out the worst in Ranomafana and you can all too easily find yourself amongst a gaggle of thirty Frenchman peering up a bemused Bamboo Lemur peering down (and they're not that golden). Better, in our opinion, to have your guide take you off on one of the myriad of paths and see what you see - which is likey to be a lot. There are a dozen species of diurnal lemur and over a hundred species of birds, 36 of which are endemic - plus a plethora of butterflies and other insects.
The night-walk here was an absolute highlight of our time in Madagascar; not just for the Mouse, Woolly, Sportive and Dwarf Lemurs that can be found - but for the incredible array of chameleons large and small which are much easier found by headtorch than in the light of day.
Cozy, comfortable lodges where you can sit by a roaring fire and enjoy a bottle of Madagascar's dreadful wine (there is a reason that you don't find it in Tescos) complete the picture.