Berenty Reserve is one of the oldest private nature reserves in Madagascar. The 1000-ha private reserve is 86 km west of Taolagnaro in Toliara Province. You must make arrangements to visit in advance, and the lodging is often fully booked months in advance.
Berenty is one of the premier tourist destinations in Madagascar as it has been protected since its founding by the de Heaulme family in 1936. It has been open to the public since 1981.
The reserve is located at a bend in the Mandrake River amidst a vast are of sisal plantation. Three are multiple areas that make up the full reserve, including a spiny forest region called Rapily, the main Berenty Reserve (200 ha), and a forest area named Bealoka (100 ha).
Flora and fauna
The reserve is world-famous for its lemurs, which have been studied and filmed extensively. The six varieties seen in the reserve include three species active during the day: ringtail lemurs, brown lemurs, and Verreaux's sifakas. These animals are very habituated to people, so expect to have them running across your roof, invading the breakfast area, and strolling within feet of you as you roam around the reserve's trails. Nocturnal lemurs include the white-footed sportive lemur, the gray mouse lemur, and the reddish-gray mouse lemur.
The reserve is also home to the south's largest colony of fruit bats, also known as Madagascar flying foxes. These giant bats are found in group of trees with restricted access in order to protect the colony. 103 bird species can be found within the reserve, including owls and couas.
The reserve protects a portion of Madagascar's spiny forest, and is also home to more lush forests dominated by tamarind trees.
Temperatures vary from highs around 40°C at midday in summer, to winters with lows of 10°C at night.
The reserve is 86 km west of Taolagnaro over a very rough road; plan on 2-4 hours for travel. Arrangements to visit the reserve must be made through Madagascar Resorts.
There is also a private airstrip for those with access to a small plane; advance permission is required for landing.
Fees and permits
A trip to Berenty must be arranged through Madagascar Resorts. A package including one night in an air-conditioned room, driver, naturalist guide (including a night walk), and reserve entry fee is €232 for two people; meals and tips extra (as of October 2014). Visa can be used for payment for a surcharge.
Unlike the national parks, you can roam around the wide trails of Berenty unaccompanied by a guide, although a guide will be provided and will be able to more easily locate resting nocturnal lemurs and other hard-to-find species. The trails around the main lodging area are extensive and easy-to-follow, and you will have no trouble finding ringtail lemurs, brown lemurs, and Verreaux's sifakas.
- 1 Arembelo Museum of Art and Tradition. This museum provides information and displays in English and French on the local Tandroy population, as well as exhibits about the local ecology. The displays are particularly well-done by Madagascar standards, and include an authentic Tandroy hut that gives some insight into the living conditions of the local population. Free.
- 1 Berenty Restaurant. There is one restaurant/bar in the reserve. Expect an invasion of ringtail lemurs at breakfast - while cute, do not feed the animals that are likely to be waiting for opportunities to leap onto your table. Food is standard fare for a tourist resort, with three options presented for most meals.
The reserve offers 27 rooms, some of which are air conditioned. Reservations are required and should be made well in advance as tour groups may reserve all available rooms months in advance. There is no other lodging available in the area. Electricity is provided by generators that operate only from 5-9AM, 11AM-3PM, and 5PM-10PM.
- Andohahela National Park — halfway to Taolagnaro, this national park is one of six on Madagascar inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
- Taolagnaro - Also known as Fort Dauphin, most visitors will arrive at Berenty from Taolagnaro, and most will return to that seaside town after their time at Berenty comes to an end.