Little known and infrequently visited, the Anjanaharibe-Sud Special Reserve is one of Madagascar’s secret jewels. Nestled deep in the remote and rugged mountains of northeastern Madagascar, Anjanaharibe-Sud contains some of the last intact stands of virgin mid- and high-elevation rainforest left in the entire country. It is a place of outstanding beauty and solitude, a place that offers a glimpse into the primeval past.
Anjanaharibe-Sud is particularly significant for a number of reasons. Most importantly, it contains an unusually rich flora and fauna, including many rare and endemic species. It thus is a very high priority for biodiversity conservation. The forests of Anjanaharibe-Sud are also vital for protecting local watersheds, providing clean, silt-free water for villages and rice fields in the agriculturally-important Andapa Basin. In addition, the mountains and forests here are central to the local residents’ rich cultural heritage: in Malagasy, Anjanaharibe (pronounced “an-dzana-hari-bay”) means “Place of the Great God.”
Designated a special reserve in 1958, Anjanaharibe-Sud currently protects 17,194 hectares (42,488 acres) of rainforest on the eastern slopes of the Anjanaharibe Massif. Plans are now being finalized which will expand the reserve to include the western slopes as well, greatly increasing its size to 28,624 hectares (70,732 acres) [maps]. Altitudes in the reserve range from 500 m to the summit of Anjanaharibe-Anivo Peak at 2064 m (1640 to 6772 ft).
Access to this remote reserve is not always easy, but for those adventuresome travelers who take the time and make the effort, the rewards are great. A visit to Anjanaharibe-Sud is always a memorable experience.