Beza-Mahafaly special reserve

Map Beza-Mahafaly

Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve is situated in the southwest of Madagascar about 35 km from Betioky and comprises 40km² of gallery forest, sub-arid and trasition forest. It was the first protected area run and managed by the Malagasy institution ESSA-Forêts, but nowadays ANGAP is the main responsible of the managment. In collaboration with several American universities the Reserve is at the same time a research and a training centre. The ESSA holds here an annual field school for fifth year students. The training includes components on the sustainable management of natural resources. It has an important tourism potential though  its access is quite difficult. 

The Reserve contains 21 resident mammal species. Concerning the lemurs, there are 5 species in the Reserve: two diurnal (ring-tailed lemurs and Vereaux sifakas) and three nocturnal. Besides more than 100 bird species are found in Beza Mahafaly, like the rare Madagascar sparrowhawk, Lafresnaye’s vanga or Archbold’s newtonia. 40 reptiles such as several Madagascar iguanids, the extremely endangered radiated tortoise, snakes (Big-eyed snake, Malagasy giant hognose), and rare geckos have been identified here.

The Reserve is divided in two sections, and there are some clear, good maintained and easy trails in both of them.

The first and smallest parcel is formed by a gallery forest (called baiboho in Malagasy) which grows next to a river. The short circuit takes two hours. In this section you have more chances to spot lemurs and if you are lucky the radiated tortoise. A night walk is also rewarding.
In this section there is an interesting ethnological museum which gives you a glimpse into the life of the Mahafaly communities.

ring-tailed lemur  Ring-tailed lemurs are habituated so it is possible
to observe them during a long time
© Gail Johson

The second and much bigger section includes dry deciduous and transition forest where xerophyllous plants are abundant. The trail is much longer (4 to 5 hours) and leads you through a beautiful forest with huge palms and spiny plants, where a lot of birds and reptiles have their home. It includes an archaeological place too.

The Reserve has an impeccable Botanical Garden where you can get familiar to the flora growing inside the Reserve.

Do not forget to bring light clothes and a hat. Temperatures can reach more than 40° during the long hot dry season from April to December. Always carry enough mineral water with you. During the rainy season (December to March) the Reserve is not accessible.

The city of Betioky is the starting point to every trip to Beza Mahafaly. If you are coming from Tulear with taxi-brousse the transfer until Betioky will take at least 6 hours, from Tana takes usually 2 days. From here the road is in a much poorer condition. You need 2 hours by 4x4 to cover the 35 km until the main gate. If you travel independent, try to rent a motorbike or a zebu cart in Betioky or bargain with a taxi driver, since there are no connections to the Reserve.

Admission costs are Ar 10,000 per person a day.

Madagascar lizard   Lizards and geckos are pretty common
© Magali_giaume
There is a nice camping site (Kily Camp) inside the reserve with shared facilities, showers and a kitchen. You must bring your own equipment and supplies. This is by far the best option for a complete visit to the Reserve: you do not have to go back to Betioky on the same day and you can enjoy a night walk. Fee is 10,000 Ar per tent and night.

If you prefer, you can stay at any quite basic hotel in Betioky.

You can get further information at the ANGAP Office in Tulear.

Rue LEDA Albert – BP 400 601 Tuléar
Phone: + (261 20) 94 435 70

There is also a pretty well equipped office at the gate entrance. The guides working here are well prepared and some speak English.

Special Reserve Beza-Mahafaly
BP 10 - 612 Betioky Sud
Phone: +(261 32) 42 088 80
Email: andriswilliam@yahoo.fr