Situated in the south-western coast of Madagascar, Tuléar (Toliara, in Malagasy) is a small city and an important port. An excellent tarred road connects the city to the beaches and spiny forest around Ifaty.
A drive of 20 minutes takes you to the villages of Ifaty and Mangily, on the Mozambique Channel, an area offering seaside hotels, snorkelling, diving, kite surfing and boat trips.
The main attraction of the area is a small private reserve called Reniala (meaning baobab in Malagasy). The 45ha reserve is managed by an environmental association who is attempting to develop eco-tourism in the area, which has in the past been severely threated by deforestation. Here you can expect to see some very old baobab trees including a giant one of 12,5 m in diameter.
Reniala National Park is essentially a spiny forest and is one of the most unique habitats in the world, adapted to the heat and drought, and home to 2000 plant species (95% of them are endemic), including the Didieraceae, the alien-like octopus tree. The park offers botanical trails and a bird sanctuary.
Early morning walks offer the best chance of seeing locally endemic species such as the Long-tailed ground roller and Sub-desert mesite. You may also see interesting reptiles such as the strange little Three-eyed lizard and the increasingly endangered Madagascar radiated tortoise, which formerly was abundant.
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