Cap Sainte Marie special reserve
|Cap Sainte Marie Special Reserve (also known by
its local name
|Probably the highlight of Cap Sainte Marie are the turtles, both terrestrial and marines. The two endemic species of terrestrial turtles are specially significant: the radiated and the spider turtle are already very rare and have along this coast its last wild habitat. The Reserve contains in fact the largest populations of these two threatened turtles, and one of the highest densities of turtles in the world.||
Radiated tortoise in captivity © Horace Smith
The humpback whales, which pass near the coast with their calves during its migration between August and November, are the other main attraction of Cap Sainte Marie.
are also some mammals living in this
region: a couple of nocturnal lemurs,
like the grey mouse lemur or the reddish-grey
mouse lemur, and some tenrecs and bats manage to survive in this arid
ecosystem. Birds are not very common, but there are a pair of endemic
here, such as the Verreaux’s Coua Coua verreauxi
and the littoral
Reptiles are more abundant. Apart from the turtles, visitors can observe the local endemic three-eyed-lizard, some boas, geckos and chameleons.
The Reserve has also a good number of spider and insects. 4 different termite species have been identified so far.
On the long white beaches it is still possible to find the bones and eggs of the extinct elephant bird, a legendary bird which was 3 meters tall. The eggs of this creature were eight times bigger than a hen’s egg. This gigantic bird was hunted until it disappeared around 800 years ago.
consists mainly of dwarf plants which form a
unique spiny bush (pay attention to their thorns while walking). Some
of this tiny
plants only occur around Cap Sainte Marie. Even baobabs are tiny in
this area! A
significant species is the Madagascar periwinkle. This
with pink flowers is used as a natural medicine against leukemia.
It can be really hot down here (over 40°), so a hat, plenty of water and sun cream are compulsory!
The spectacualar jumps of the humpback whales can be seen along all the coast of Cap Sainte Marie
© Piero Sierra
|So far there are two easy trails within the
Reserve. You can make both of them in one day without problems.
The Cave circuit allows you to discover the eggs of the elephant bird and to observe the big population of turtles. Besides, you will pass trough a sacred cave and some moving dunes.
you have your own vehicle, the journey takes almost two days from
There are also taxi-brousse connections several times a week until Tsihombe.
It is possible to camp inside
the Reserve. Fee
is 10,000 Ar per tent and night.
There are some basic accommodations and restaurants in Lavanono (20 km from the Reserve)
There is a local ANGAP Office at Tsihombe, where you can arrange your visit. A couple of guides speak English.
Special Reserve Cap Sainte Marie:
BP 12 – 621 Tsihombe
Tél.: + (261 32) 40 934 03