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Zahamena National Park and Strict Nature Reserve

The Zahamena National Park and the adjacent Zahamena Strict Nature Reserve are in the central-eastern part of the island. Access is difficult, and is normally undertaken by way of Ambatondrazaka to the west of the park. It takes about six hours by car from Antananarivo to Ambatondrazaka, and then two more hours to cover the 70 km to Antanadava. A four-wheel-drive vehicle is necessary for this last stretch of the journey. Ambatondrazaka offers some basic hotels, but you have to camp if you want to stay in the park itself. Access from the east of the park is exclusively by foot from Vavatenina, an 8-hour trek up Madagascar’s steep eastern escarpment to the highly-degraded northeastern corner. Those who have permission to enter the Strict Nature Reserve can head south from Vavatenina (by motorcycle) to Miarinarivo, proceeding from there on a vigorous, two-day walk to the strictly protected lowland rain forests of the southeastern corner. The forest in this region is spectacular, and species known to occur here include Simmon’s mouse lemur (Microcebus simmonsi), hairy-eared dwarf lemur (Allocebus trichotis), Crossley’s dwarf lemur (Cheirogaleus crossleyi), Masoala fork-marked lemur (Phaner furcifer), weasel sportive lemur (Lepilemur mustelinus), northern bamboo lemur (Hapalemur occidentalis), brown lemur (Eulemur fulvus), red-bellied lemur (Eulemur rubriventer), variegated black-and-white ruffed lemur (Varecia variegata variegata), eastern woolly lemur (Avahi laniger), diademed sifaka (Propithecus diadema), indri (Indri indri), and aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis). It should be noted that there is a high risk of malaria in Zahamena, so it is necessary to take precautions. Given the difficulty of access, Zahamena is not recommended for first-time visitors to Madagascar.