Ranomafana National Park Madagascar is a tropical rainforest located in the southeast of the country. The word ranomafana means warm water and water is abundant here.
The national park was established in 1991 and is a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site. The park was created after the discovery of rare gold bamboo lemur, discovered by Dr. Patricia Wright in 1986. Due to its easy access to the best road in Madagascar (RN7), it is one of the most visited national parks in the country.
We suggest that you plan at least two nights for Ranomafana national park Madagascar. The surroundings are so beautiful that you won’t regret it. One day you will explore the park and look for all the exotic animals, and one day you will relax and enjoy the surroundings. We arrived at Setam Lodge around four o’clock in the afternoon and we were so enchanted by nature that we were a little euphoric.
The first day we just enjoyed ourselves and were happy to be there. On the second day, we explored around, and on the third day, before leaving, we visited the cute village of Ranomafana. Time well spent!
We visited Ranomafana because of the animals and the beautiful nature. A total of 13 species of lemurs live in the national park, seven of which are active during the day and six at night.
I think we were quite lucky, we saw six species of lemurs in Ranomafana:
Gray bamboo lemur
The first lemur we saw on our trip. Basically the first lemur we have ever seen live in a natural environment! You can imagine our excitement. This lemur feeds on bamboo, hence its name.
Greater bamboo lemur
This cute creature is the only one left in the entire park. Poor thing. If he doesn’t get company soon, he may die of loneliness. ☹ The whole family left him, as they are used to live in lower altitude and drier climate. They don’t like it the most in the rainforest. There used to be 7-8 of them in the park, but they moved back to the south.
They moved to Ranomafana from the south in the past because people burned the forests there. The gray bamboo lemur lives for 30 years.
Here we were lucky enough to catch a couple sleeping. How cute they were! Red-bellied lemurs feed on bamboo, fruits, mushrooms, flowers and insects.
These lemurs can only be found at an altitude of 1000-1200 meters above sea level. They live in groups of 2-10. They have cubs every 3 years, pregnancy lasts 6 months.
Red-fronted brown lemur
They are found in dry and rain forests in the east and west of Madagascar. This is an endangered specie due to habitat loss and hunting. One of the most hunted lemur species in Madagascar. 🙁
Brown mouse lemur
The only nocturnal lemur we managed to see on our trip. This type of lemur sleeps during the day and is very active at night. The brown mouse lemur has the shortest lifespan, living only 6-8 years.
In addition to lemurs, we also saw chameleons, lizards, snakes, frogs, insects and interesting plants in the park.
Ranomafana National Park Madagascar – Where to sleep
We slept in Setam Lodge (firstname.lastname@example.org), which is the closest to the park. We really liked Setam Lodge because it is surrounded by rainforest, the rooms are spacious and the staff is very friendly. It’s fair to say that this accomodation is at a very high level. We paid 100,000 MGA (21.5 €) per night, and we also had to pay the tourist tax, which was 3,000 MGA (0.65 €) per night.
If you’re going to sleep at Setam Lodge, you’ll have to eat there too, because you’ll have no other choice. The food was good but quite expensive. For example, we paid 3 € for a sandwich, which we took with us to the park as a snack. 3 € for a sendwich is very expensive for Madagascar. The sandwich was nothing special.
We really liked Setam Lodge, but if we were to visit the park again, we would prefer to sleep below, in the village of Ranomafana. The village is extremely cute, the locals are very friendly, and it’s worth exploring their colorful market and, of course, the thermal springs. There you have a choice of quite a few accommodations and also a larger selection of food.
Staying in Ranomafana village is cheaper than in Setam Lodge. One of the options for sleeping in Ranomafana is Le Grenat Hotel (email@example.com), where we were offered a room for 80,000 MGA (17.2 €).
How to get to Ranomafana National Park Madagascar
Ranomafana is 60 km from Fianarantsoa. The entrance to the park is 7 km from the village of Ranomafana and you will need a vehicle for this part of Madagascar. If your budget allows it, we highly recommend renting a car with a driver, if not, you will have to find another way. You can read more about transport in Madagascar HERE.
If you don’t have a vehicle, exploring the surroundings will take a lot of time and energy. Even good will with public transport in Madagascar quickly runs out. 😊 We speak from experience. The park opens at seven in the morning, we suggest you get there soon after opening. Animals are more active in the morning. We started from our hotel at seven o’clock, which was just right.
Which route to choose and price – Ranomafana National Park Madagascar
You will need to hire a guide to visit Ranomafana National Park. We recommend that you hire a guide right at the park entrance and hope you don’t get a lazy guide like we did. We hired a guide one evening earlier at the hotel, as he was already diligently waiting for us there. He charged us for the longest tour which should be 8 hours, we ended up walking very very slowly for less than 6 hours.
Prices for a guide depend on the tour you take, prices range from 75,000 MGA to 200,000 MGA. For an easier presentation, I am attaching the price list below. The guide has a spotter with him who walks in front of you and looks for animals. No one asks you for this and no one informs you in advance, the guide brings it with him because he wants someone else to earn besides him. Of course he also expects a tip, that’s how it is in Madagascar.
We ended up liking our spotter better than our guide, he had a lot more energy and found a lot of animals. We ended up paying him 20,000 MGA (4.31 €), but we think we overdid it. 10,000 MGA would be more than enough as visiting the park is already very expensive.
Which tour to choose is entirely up to you, one-day walks through the park last 2-8 hours. In addition to the tours listed below, you also have the option of multi-day tours that take you through the entire Ranomafana National Park, where you also stay overnight. Unfortunately, we don’t have a price for it, but it’s probably not exactly cheap.
The entrance fee to Ranomafana National Park for foreigners is MGA 55,000 (11.9 €) and for locals it is MGA 2,000 (0.43 €). You will also have to pay a fee of MGA 10,000 (2.15 €).
Night Walk – Ranomafana National Park Madagascar
A night walk in the park, where you will have the opportunity to see mouse lemurs, chameleons, frogs… Sounds very good, what do you say? Well, we weren’t very impressed. We paid 70,000 MGA (15 €) for both of us for the night walks, which should last 3-4 hours. We walked along the asphalt road that is next to the park, our guide was again completely without energy and boring.
The highlight of the walk was the mouse lemurs, which were very cute, and if I decided to do this walk again, I would do it just because of these cute animals. Mouse lemurs can only be seen on a night walk.
Guides have a trick to attract mouse lemurs. When we reached a certain stretch of road, our guide coated the branch with a banana. Less than 20 seconds passed and the mouse lemur was in front of our eyes. He was so close she could have touched him. Since this is a wild animal, of course we didn’t even try because we didn’t want to scare him.
On the walk later we also saw some chameleons and frogs. The walk lasted an hour and a half in total, and I personally think that we overpaid for it. I think 40,000-50,000 MGA (8.6 € – 10.8 €) is a realistic price for this walk. I suggest you haggle a bit for the price.
Is Ranomafana national park Madagascar worth visiting?
Absolutely! The park is very unique because of the nature and the animals and we enjoyed it very much. Visiting the park is suitable for adults and children, the path we walked was very easy. The park is huge, covering 416 km², at an altitude between 800-1200 meters above sea level, and the vast majority of it is covered by rainforest. Worth a visit!
Mosquitoes? Surprisingly, there were not many mosquitoes in the park itself, but we still recommend a good mosquito spray and raincoat (depending on the season). We visited Ranomafana in December.