The Makay massif – an iconic Terra Incognita
Exploring the last Eden of the Makay - It is our passion, and this is the best thing in Madagascar. Who wishes to be first – for those MAKAY! Stay away from the crowd, stay away from civilization, get to know unexplored - committing adventurous hike with NDAO-i-Travel in MAKAY. A mountain range in the central western part of the island, the Makay is one of the last unexplored areas of the island. It consisting of hundreds of intricate canyons, it is a natural labyrinth and true "safe" of biodiversity.
Towards the hinterland, the Makay Massif is still not well known but advertised by tourism operators. It is accessible only from May to November, except by helicopter, it starts at 130 km south of Malaimbandy. Or is a rough eight- to 10-hour 4WD journey north of Ranohira, with a ferry crossing across the Mangoky River at Beroroha. As opposed to Isalo National Park, which has a central plateau, Makay is a succession of deep valleys and mountains that are difficult to access. On the lower levels, pure and transparent water breaks through between high cliffs. On the high level, on the other hand, a scorching heat. Inside some caves, ancient drawings add to the mystery of the place.
The Makay massif is certainly one of the most monumental works of Nature. The Makay range spreads over an area of 150×50km. It features high plateaus still partly covered with forest or bushy growth common to the dry climate of the Malagasy West. Spectacular erosion has carved the plateaus into a maze of deep canyons where a flora typical of humid ecosystems has developed, not unlike the evergreen forests of Eastern Madagascar. Imagine deep canyons, deep valleys, cliffs with red walls, turquoise basins, white sand, ferns, mosses and verdant palms. The setting of the massif is breathtaking. With infinite patience, which is hundreds of millions of years old, nature has sculpted this monumental massif of yellow sandstone, digging a maze of deep canyons at the bottom of which impenetrable galleries and luxuriant forests valleys form a biotope apart where life has taken to these hundred-meter deep valleys and has developed there in complete autonomy for millions of years, filling every possible ecological niche. Protected by its isolation, its improbable geomorphology and perhaps also by the spirits of the sacred mountain of Andakatomenavava which dominates it, the Makay is one of the ultimate secrets of the planet.
Isolated and preserved from human intervention, these biotopes have allowed animal species and relict plants to subdivide down to the point new species appear. Thus the Makay really became a refuge for nature, a haven for species among the most curious of the planet. Its remoteness and the characteristics of its topography was until recently hindering scientific exploration.
This unique paradise will not survive long.
The first international scientific expedition accompanied by climbers and cavers have gained access to the most remote and highly inaccessible areas in 2010, to collect samples. This wealth of expertise resulted in an extremely rich first exploration and the scientific results have exceeded expectations: more than 300 different plant species collected, including several new indigenous species. Biologists have compiled a first inventory of biodiversity. Many zoological observations were made and ichthyologists have even caught a little fish named Pachypanchax, absolutely unexpected in this region. As for archaeology, dozens of burial sites and two caves with rock paintings were discovered, nearly 250 rock paintings were recorded, testifying to the passage of man in this unfathomable maze. The second expedition confirmed that the Makay mountain range is a source of considerable scientific interest.
An unprecedented and exclusive Madagascar, with a discovery of the Makay, an unparalleled place: a trekking engaged in the South, then an immersion in the North, very little explored. In this paradise lost, far from civilization, every step is a reward: roaring waterways, inextricable canyons, glowing earth, dense forest, ruiniform reliefs... A must for the trekker in search of wild nature, to approach with a pioneering spirit! Among the patchwork of diverse ecosystems in Madagascar it remains a few little-known, relatively unexplored and undeveloped, sparsely populated areas, presenting a high potential for new discoveries. The Makay stands among them as an iconic Terra Incognita: even on the island of Madagascar itself, few people have heard of this ruiniform mountain range.
Remember the movie on "Channel+" in 2011 "Makay, the trekkers of the lost world"? Who has not dreamed of adventure by reading the stories of a Marco Polo discovering Samarkand or an Amundsen reaching the South Pole. What an exhilarating sensation to count among the first to discover these marvels! And the man of the 21st century to lament that he was born in a world already mapped...
NDAO-i-Travel offers an unprecedented expedition with a full crossing on foot between the northern and southern parts to discover even more wild areas and unexplored! This beautiful original crossing, exclusive and the real one adventure, allows an in-depth approach of the massif of the Makay. An expedition will allow a handful of privileged people to carry out an entire crossing between the northern and southern parts of the massif.
The special geomorphology of the Makay is a formidable playground for lovers of nature and physical effort. Every day, a route is challenging. Climbing or descending the gradients of the sandy gray, pearl or pink lava-like amphitheaters. Climb rocky chaos. Or sink deep into narrow canyons, countercurrent, water up to the waist while. It is the price to be paid to discover, at the exit of a narrow gorge, unexpected and sublime gardens of Eden that are offered for the first time to the eyes of men. Disheveled pandanus, emerald and glazed ferns, royal osmondes of almost fluorescent green harmoniously arranged. Graceful palm trees and arborescent ferns lean. Squadrons of turquoise parrots will be enlivened their rapid flight with these lush landscape compositions worthy of a naturalistic engraving of the eighteenth century. In the bed of the rivers, other marvels will make you forget aches and fatigue, such like remarkable trunks of petrified trees 150 to 200 million years old. Sometimes, simpler pleasures come to crown the effort, like to smell the resinous tannins to the fragrances of camphor of the Canarium madagascariense, the tree of myrrh...
Difficult of access and "protected" by prohibitions of tribal orders (Malagasy are the champions of the taboo in world, which they call "fady" and whose transgressions generate according to their beliefs dramatic consequences), the Makay is a site where one must forget any notion of comfort. A team of porters and cooks however ensures the stewardship and prepares each evening the bivouac. As for the configuration of the ground, it implies to be at the top of its physical condition. In fact, it is necessary to expect each day between 5 to 9 hours on a soil mostly sandy. Some delicate passages are carried out by swimming or crawling in narrow aisles of rocks (claustrophobic abstain). And some abseiling cannot be excluded. A unique experience for those who have kept the spirit (and form) of a pioneer.
Watch more photos about The Makay Massif here.