Amber Mountain National Park, between waterfalls, volcanic lakes and bird watching
The Amber Mountain National Park was created in 1958, when the French colonial government recognized the unique nature of the volcanic massif and its forest. The trees in this park produce a lot of resin (amber, hence the name) which is also used here for medicinal purposes. The park is 35 km south-west, about 45 minutes by car from Diego Suarez. The Amber Mountain is entirely based on a substrate of volcanic origin that dates back to the Quaternary with two forms of reliefs, tormented in the west and slightly hilly in the east.
The Amber Mountain is made up of a magnificent sample of rainforest that enjoys its own microclimate, with rainfall similar to the eastern regions. In the surrounding areas, the climate is semi-arid. You will also notice that in Diego Suarez temperatures rarely drop below 27 ° while, at the entrance to the park (850 m), the temperature often drops below 15 °. This is the first national park established in Madagascar on an area of 18500 hectares, spread over a volcanic massif, at an altitude between 850-1475 m.
In this dense rainforest we will be able to admire the numerous waterfalls, one of which falls from a height of 80 meters, numerous volcanic lakes, including Lake Mahasarika which supplies water to the city Antsiranana. In theory, the park has over 30 km of slopes, but many of them are covered in thick vegetation. During your visit, try to get to the top (1475m) of the park to have views that go from the Mozambique Channel to the Indian Ocean, obviously if the weather is sunny. The area of the Antakarana waterfall is an extremely photogenic place and it is also interesting to see the thrush rock together with many other birds. The Antomboka waterfall is connected by a path containing high and low portions, with steep descents and ascents. Here too we have good opportunities to observe birds, but also magnificent ferns and very likely lemurs.
The park is a true botanical paradise, its luxuriant vegetation made up of many medicinal plants, gigantic trees, numerous orchids, very long lianas, various types of palm trees and a few banyan trees. Visitors are often impressed by the splendid giant ferns on which birds build their nests. However, the most spectacular tree in the park is certainly the huge Banyan tree, up to 30 m high, with a large trunk and horizontal branches, from which roots descend, which, over time, become columns supporting the weight of the crown.
To mention some of the most famous mammals in this park, the ring-tailed mongoose, and the elusive fossa. Another carnivorous mammal to mention is the elegant galidie that exists only in the heart of the Amber Mountain. Small in size, carnivorous of the Viverridae family, with extraordinary speed.
Be careful when you look at the forest floor, you could see (or trample and not see) the brookesia chameleon camouflaged among the leaves just 2 cm long (the smallest in the world), or the centipede rolled in a perfect ball, the frogs of unthinkable colors and many other endemic insects in the area.
…and for bird watchers
Even people who are not passionate about ornithology will be fascinated by the countless species of birds that can be found in these places. The crested ibis from Madagascar always ready to be noticed, or the paradise flycatcher with a long-feathered tail. Even the shy rock thrush with a little luck could be spotted, and let’s not forget the blue winged pitta while the black-and-white magpie is found everywhere. With a little luck, however, we could spot among the most beautiful bird species present in Madagascar, among the 75 species of the park: the small kingfisher, the heron, the hawk, the parrot, the owl, the wild pigeon, the sparrow hawk, and let’s not forget 36 species of butterflies, 34 species of amphibians, 3 species of bats including the beautiful flying fox.