Amber Mountain National Park

Map Amber Mountain Montagne d'Ambre (Amber Mountain) National Park is located around 30 km south of Diego Suarez. It was established in 1958 and protects a total surface of 185km². This massif rises from the surrounding dry region forming an isolated stretch of montane rainforest covering an area of 18.200 hectares and lying at altitudes between 800 and 1.470 metres. The park offers a great biodiversity: a huge tropical forest with endemic fauna and flora, luxuriant vegetation and many waterfalls and volcanic lakes. The climate is perfect, the cool air refreshes after the heat of the lowlands. The dominant ethnic groups are the Sakavala and the Antankarana.

A big number of animal species inhabit the National Park. To begin with, 25 species of mammals, among them 6 carnivores such as the ring-tailed mongoose and the fossa, and 8 lemurs: Sanford's brown lemur, crowned lemur, lesser bamboo lemur and are five species of nocturnal lemurs. Besides these forests are the home of 75 different bird species (35 of which are endemic and even locally endemic, like the Amber Mountainrock-thrush ), 60 reptiles, such as tiny stump-tailed chameleons, leaf-tailed geckos and snakes, 35 frogs and more than 40 butterflies.

brookesia chameleon crowned lemur
The Brookesia is the smallest
chameleon of the world
© MauritsV
Crowned lemurs are pretty common
and esay to observe   © MauritsV

The flora is very reach as well. The three principal ecosystems (montane rainforest, mid-altitude rainforest and dry deciduous forests) give shelter to more than one thousand different plants.

The best time to visit the Park is between September and November. It will rain from time to time but the warm temperatures make all the animals active, so the chances of seeing them increase enormously. You should avoid a visit while the cyclone season from December to March.

The reserve is certainly very worthwhile and the infrastructure very well developed. Points of interest are labelled, which increases your chances to see many different species. 

All the circuits are clear and well maintained, so it not hard to explore the park by yourself.
The easiest and most visited one goes to the Sacred Waterfall (Cascade Sacree). It is a short and very rewarding walk to a waterfall falling into a pool where you have good chances to spot some lemurs and birds.

There are two more walks ending in waterfalls: The Cascade Antankarana circuit is also easy and not long, the Cascade Antomboka is a little bit harder. Other treks lead to some crater lakes. The shortest walk is to the Lac de la Coupe Verte, with nice views of the forest. For visiting Lac Grand and Lac Maudit you will need the whole day.

It is also possible to climb up to the Amber Mountain itself and enjoy a spectacular view over all the forest beneath you. Most people plan a two-days-trip and camp one night at the Lac Grand, but if you are used to long treks you can do it in just one day too.
Amber Mountain
Waterfalls form an ideal place to 
enjoy the tranquillity of the forest 
and observe the forest inhabitants.  
  © MauritsV

Important advice: Amber Mountain is the only park in the country which you can visit without the compulsory assistance of a nature guide.

Due to this easy access from Joffreville and the easy marked trails, the park has evolved to a popular one-day-trip for all visitors of Diego Suarez. Indeed the park can be pretty crowded during the high season. There are several daily taxi-brousse connections from Diego to Joffreville, which lies 3 km from the main entrance. Just ask the driver to drop you out at the park entrance.

The current entry prices are Ar 25,000 for one day and Ar 37,000 for a two-day visit. The expenses for the guide depend on the circuit chosen (from 25,000 to 50,000 Ar depending on the distance)

If you intend to spend a couple of days trekking inside the park, the best option by far is staying at a shelter (bring a sleeping bag and provisions) or camp at the Station de Rousettes. This campsite is next to the Cascade Sacreé (2 km from the park entrance) and has basic facilities and running water.

Another more comfortable option is staying in a hotel in Joffreville.

lake Amber Mountain
   Crater lake full of "green" water  © MauritsV

There is an ANGAP Office at Jofreville with detailed information about wildlife and trail maps if you are willing to explore the park at you own:

B.P 23 Joffreville
Tel: (261 32)  40 61 450 / 034 03 217
Mail: mda.parks@gmail.com