Amber Mountain National Park
Chameleon © LyWashu
Amber Mountain (Montagne d'Ambre) National Park is one of Madagascar's most famous parks, known for its fantastic array of colourful orchids found only on the island, along with other rare plants. Located in the northern part of the island, the region surrounding the park is flat and dry, but the mountainous park is predominantly tropical rainforest and the altitude and lush vegetation makes it pleasantly cool compared to the surrounding lowlands. The park's fauna is just as colourful, with unusual species like blue-nosed chameleons and seven different kinds of lemur. The park is also a treat for bird lovers, with 75 different bird species, 35 of which are endemic. There are many waterfalls and some beautiful volcanic lakes to hike to. The trek to the stunning Sacred Waterfall (Cascade Sacree) is one of the most popular.
Amber Mountain is one of the most accessible parks in Madagascar, with comparably good infrastructure including wide trails and camping areas as well as an in-park lodge; however, electricity is not always available, and the nearest banks and medical facilities are in the town of Antsiranana. The tracks and landmarks are well-maintained and signposted making it easy to explore the park without a guide; in fact, it is the only park in the country which you can visit without the compulsory assistance of a guide.
The best time to visit the park is between September and November, when the animals are at their most active and are most easily observed.