On my visit to Madagascar, I chose Natural Habitat (NatHab) as my tour group due to good reviews by friends and some internet investigation. I think in Madagascar, and Africa in general, it is best to visit with a tour. It is possible to book things on your own but these are poor countries, with limited lodging and transport options, often requiring private plane and car services. Both for safety and to avoid the headaches, I recommend a reputable tour service unless you simply want to go to one hotel for your stay. While Natural Habitat was a little more expensive, the hotels were really nice, there were local guides in addition to the tour director and the complex business of getting around in Madagascar was handled seamlessly. The Vakona Forest Lodge was the first hotel we stayed in after our arrival in Antananarivo and as you can see, it was a beautiful place with lovely gardens. This was our home base to visit Andasibe-Mantadia National Park (Reserve of Perinet), quite a mouthful. Andasibe-Mantadia National Park is a 100 square mile (155 square km) protected area, located about 93 miles (150 km) east of Antananarivo, consisting principally of primary growth forest in Alaotra-Mangoro Region in eastern Madagascar. The park’s two component parts are Mantadia National Park and Analamazoatra Reserve, which is best known for its population of Madagascar’s largest lemur, the Indri. The Analamazaotra (or Périnet) Special Reserve (ASR), known locally as Andasibe after the nearby village, was once part of the larger Mantadia National Park which also included Maromizaha Classified Forest to the southeast and Anosibe an’ala to the south. However logging and deforestation for farming has resulted in these parks now being isolated.
Machu Picchu is such a pregnant ecosystem, that it is difficult to include or categorize the many beautiful plants that you encounter. I have decided to arbitrarily divide descriptions of the plants into several posts; orchids, flowers, plants and herbs. The combination of the humid tropical greenery with the towering peaks of the eastern mountain ranges gives Mach Picchu a unique and remarkable quality. As one travels by train from Ollantaytambo to the Ecological Reserve of Machu Picchu, the Andean landscape transforms into a deep canyon festooned by a dense tropical jungle that seems impossible to penetrate through its soaring slopes. The valuable 32,592-hectare Reserve has an enormous ecological variety. That is why there is such scientific interest in their original genetic diversity. The primary forest ecosystem has an incredibly diverse flora with a lush forest vegetation (such as cedar, romerillo, laurel, among others), shrubs, ferns and ancient tall palm trees. In the higher parts, endemic mountain species can be found such as the beautiful queñual tree or Polylepis. It is pretty much impossible to describe it all but I hope these posts will form a helpful beginning.