Want to see unique plants and animals that you can’t see anywhere else in the world? Then a trip to Amber National Park in Northern Madagascar is in order.
About the Park
Amber Mountain National Park (Montagne d’Ambre) is located 30 kilometers south of Diego Suarez. It was established in 1958 as the first island with national park status. While the surrounding area is dry, the park is situated on 18,200 hectacres (45,000 acres) of mountanous, basaltic rock.
Due to its high elevation, the area is naturally wet. With an average rainfall of 141.1 inches, the area is a prime location to see spectacular waterfalls, plants, animals, and volcanic lakes.
Due to its elevation and wet climate, the air is cool, which offers travelers a welcomed escape from the brutal heat of the lowlands. Here, you’ll see three types of forest: mid-altitude rainforest, dry deciduous forest, and mountain rainforest. The range of habitat results in one of the most diverse animal populations in Madagascar.
Over 1,000 species of plants have been recorded, along with over 25 species of mammals, including eight species of lemur, the Malagasy civet, and the ring-tailed mongoose. It’s home to 30 species of frogs and a number of birds, such as the Amber mountain rock thrush. Visitors also can expect to see stump-tailed chameleons and leaf-tailed geckos.
Fun fact: The bookesia micra chameleon is the world’s smallest chameleon and can be seen at Amber Mountain National Park. At only 25mm, it’s actually very hard to spot.
When to Visit
The best time to visit Amber Mountain is between September and November, as December to March is wet season, and it tends to be cooler between April and September. Warm temperatures result in greater animal activity.
Getting around is simple; the park is heavily trafficked, so the 19 miles (30 km) of trails are clearly marked and are easy to navigate. Hikes range from 1 to 8 hours.
Our top pick for sights is the Cascade Sacree, also called the Sacred Waterfall. It’s a quick walk, and there you will see many native birds and lemurs. Additionally, there are two other options if you’re “chasing waterfalls.”
- Cascade Antankarana: At the end of this short walk, you’ll find a tropical oasis surrounded by trees.
- Cascade Antomboka: Slightly longer, this trail takes only a few hours to complete, but can take a half-day if you stop and admire the scenery. The highlights is a waterfall that is approximately 80 meters tall.
Another popular trail is to the crater lake of Lac de la Coupe Verte, which is a lagoon-like body of water surrounded by tall trees. This hike takes the whole day, so plan accordingly. You can also hike up Amber Mountain itself in about a day.
Unless you’re hiking the peak, remember that this is a forest with many large trees. Don’t expect sweeping views, but instead a chance to see wildlife, much of which is endemic to Amber Mountain.
- Daily Adult: 55,00 Ar
- Daily Child: 25,000 Ar
Traveler tip: Amber Mountain does not require a guide to visit, unlike every other park in Madagascar.
Where to Stay
Amber Mountain National Park is easily accessible from Diego Suarez through Joffreville (3km from the entrance), so most visitors complete their trip in a single day. While you can camp here, it’s most common to stay in Diego Suarez and take the taxi brousse in or private car.
If you choose to camp in the park, there’s a campsite next to the Sacred Waterfall that’s well-kempt and was recently renovated to have running water and basic facilities. If you choose to stay in Joffreville and explore the park on your own, it’s helpful to have the following contact information handy:
B.P. 23 Joffreville
Tel: (261 32) 40 61 450 / 034 03 217
If you stay in Diego Suarez, the Nature Lodge is a popular accommodation choice. The lodge has 12 chalets and a bar, restaurant, and common area. With a cozy location and private deck, you’ll experience the breathtaking sights and smells of Madagascar.