Before travelling | During your journey


From Cap d'Ambre, at the northern tip of the country, to the gorges of the Onilahy near Tulear, the western edge of the island contains a countless amount of unexplored caves. It can be said that the Malagasy underground area is still almost virgin. Limestone covers about 5% of all country’s soil and caves are not small. The five longest are 18.1, 12.0, 10.8, 10.5, and 9.0 km long. The deepest is 200 m deep with a very nice 165-m entrance pitch to a large room. Most of these are relatively incompletely explored. Caves make excellent collecting sites for fossils because the bones are often quite well preserved and just lying there visible on the surface, even for bones that are thousands of years old. Indeed, exploration of the subsoil Malagasy is not for the uninitiated. Not only that there are unpleasant inhabitants like crocodiles… The approach to the caves’ entrance is often hindered by the presence of "Tsingy", pinnacles of limestone, which are so difficult to traverse that helicopters are used sometimes by scientific parties to gain access. 

The country has only one official show cave - Anohibe, but numerous other dry, level caves are shown to the visitor by enterprising natives, as at Ampanito Valakely near the village of Amboaboaka, North Narinda. Ankarana caves are famous for their crocodiles and should be treated with caution. Caves in this area are said to have white blind fish. Small colonies of both insect- and fruit-eating bats also live in the karst. 
Ankarana Cave
Ankarana cave  - © mobot.org

Fossil skeletons of lemurs have also been washed into these caves. This bizarre karstic landscape alternates fascinating galleries covered by stalactites and stalagmites of calcite hanging down with folds like a fabric, dense forests with hidden lakes and falls and an abundant wildlife. Speleologists have inventoried in Ankarana 11 main caves, being some of them sacred spots as they are royal burial places.