Ambalabongo Canyon – Marovoay, Madagascar - Atlas Obscura

Ambalabongo Canyon

Marovoay, Madagascar

The runoff from these fiery cliffs sends red water flowing into the sea. 


This canyon stretches across the earth like a great red scar. The sandstone’s hues are so fiery, you’d be forgiven for mistaking it for Mars or some other martian landscape.

This gorgeous gorge is found in Ankarafantsika Nature Reserve, a national park in northwestern Madagascar. Unlike the rainforests of the east and spiny dry forests of the south, Ankarafantsika is more of a dry tropical forest with some savannah.

Although beautiful, this canyon has witnessed dark times thanks to heavy deforestation. Losing so many trees has left the land prone to erosion, which has caused the soil to crumble and move. The erosion is to the point that the red waters running into the sea can be seen from space. The canyon is a sight to behold, yet also a reminder to value and protect the plants that hold together such a wonderful place.

Inside this reserve, animals like chameleons (the largest in the world), vanga birds, and speckled butterflies are plentiful to the point of distraction. Primates like sifakas lazily lounge outside villager houses waiting for handouts while mongoose lemurs forage in pairs far above in the tree canopy.

Know Before You Go

There are various hiking trails throughout the national park. The one that leads to the canyon is fairly strenuous, so take caution and wear appropriate hiking clothes.

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November 28, 2018

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