TOPO Via ferrata

Tsingy de Bemaraha, Bekopaka

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Deep in western Madagascar, 150 kms north of Morondava, the Tsingy de Bemaraha rise up out of the bush: a gigantic uplift of limestone plates forming a veritable field of sharp, tangled needles and spurs. The Andamozavaky circuit is the official loop of the national park and offers a beautiful tour of the heart of the massif, from the most subterranean parts to the summits. The route is halfway between a via ferrata and an equipped trail, with several suspension bridges (the main one is around 15 m long) and numerous ladders to climb or unclimb the steepest passages. You can also spot lemurs as you look up into the forest bordering the massif. Totally isolated and very difficult to access with 8h of 4×4 driving on more or less broken tracks, the site remains impressive despite its isolation and the obligation to walk there with a guide on the official route. Whether it's worth 2 full days of 4×4 on uninteresting trails remains to be seen...

Technical summary

Type ✦ Via Ferrata
Location ✦ Bekopaka
Region ✦ Belo-sur-Mer, Melaky
Country ✦ Madagascar
Length ✦ 3km
Difficulty ✦ K2
Duration ✦ 2h to 3h
Interest ✦ ★★

Access to the place

From Morondava, follow the track up to Belo sur Tsiribihina, then 100 km of track to Bekopaka, after crossing the Mananbolo river. Continue for a further 18 km on a track that is still difficult in places, before finally reaching the Tsingy de Bemaraha site.

Map & topo

Itinerary description

Hiking to the start 15'

Walk through fields and forest to the fork on the right that leads to the cave section.

Course 3h

The course is fully equipped, even generously so. No real difficulty, but the underground and aerial passages can be impressive. Progress is also difficult, hence the name Tsingy, which in Malagasy means "where you can't walk barefoot".

A guide is compulsory, and equipment is provided (harness, double lanyard, no dissipator, etc.). A few small, easy passages to climb or unclimb. Several suspension bridges, including the one at the summit, about halfway along the route.

Part 1: Caving sequence n°1

The trail leads under the woods at the foot of the 1st tsingy before descending to an entrance under the massif. Progress is then made by headlamp, in small corridors, sometimes narrow, sometimes quite low, winding under the rock. At the end, a final, very narrow corridor leads up to an inner hall, which marks the end of this section.
Part 2: Ferrata sequence

We leave the cave to tackle the first ladders, which climb steeply up to the large tsingy. Soon, the summit and a small wooden watchtower come into view. Once up there, we get a 1st view of this very extensive part of the massif.
Section 3: Summit traverse, equipped path

Large suspension bridge, then 2nd bridge to reach another summit with another wooden watchtower. The route weaves in and out of needles and boulders, descending and ascending while remaining on the ridges. Impressive 360° view over part of the massif.
Part 4: Descent and caving sequence 2

The loop continues with a magnificent descent through narrow corridors of sculpted, sharp limestone. The route gradually deepens before ending under the massif with new underground passages. The trail then gradually climbs out of the massif before returning to the forest and the fork at the start. If you're lucky, you may spot Sifakas in the trees (a white lemur with incredible leaps and a chassé-like gait known as the dancing lemur).

Back

The same 15' back on the approach path to the parking lot.

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