The Spiny Forest of southern Madagascar is one of the world’s most unusual woodlands. Largely a scrubland with desert-like conditions, the Spiny Forest is home to a number of species of trees that have specially adapted to the climate, including cacti and baobobs. A small part of the forest is protected within the Andohahela National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Despite its proximity to Africa, Madagascar is one of the most isolated land masses on the planet. It is, amazingly, one of the last places to have been discovered and settled by humans, with evidence of habitation only four thousand years old. The southern tip where the Spiny Forest can be found was only sparsely populated until very recently, helping to preserve the area’s amazing ecosystem.
The Spiny Forest follows the southern coast of Madagscar and covers an area of about fifteen thousand square miles. Despite the dry conditions, there is a wide variety of vegetation, including many species of trees that thrive in the area. Wildlife abounds, including numerous species of Madagascar’s iconic lemurs.
The Spiny Forest, although located at the extreme end of the island of Madagascar, is accessible enough to make it a popular tourist destination. The most common point of access is through Andohahela National Park, which also incorporates nearby mountainous areas and rainforests. Web: www.parcs-madagascar.com (official website of Madagascar National Parks).