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Wildlife

When is a great time to spot wildlife? Wild animals can be found in ecosystems like deserts, forests, rain forests, plains or grasslands. Often wildlife is hidden and difficult to spot. Here you will find the right time and areas where the chance for a wildlife sighting is much higher.

Best month for the crab migration is April but you may see them until June.

CU Cuba

Ranomafana (the Malagasy words for “hot water”) is without a doubt the most spectacular places in Madagascar. Its name is derived from the hot springs which pour out warm water into the valley. Because it is easily accessible and provides immense biodiversity, it became one of the most visited areas on Madagascar. The rainforest stretches over a mountainous terrain of over 410 km² and is Madagaskars 3rd largest park. Besides 12 different lemur species, it is home of the golden bamboo lemur. A species discovered in 1986 and the reason why this park exists. The tarred roads crossing the park made it accessible all year. Only during the rainy season, the travel may take longer than usual.

Weather and Crowds

Madagascar's overall climate is subtropical, with a hot and rainy season between November until end of March, and a cooler and drier season from May to October. Each of the five regions of the island is subject to its climate and precipitation varies widely between the regions. During the wet season and times of high rainfall, travel can become difficult, if not impossible. Based on the different geographical areas huge temperature variations can occur.

The Ranomafana Park is located on a high elevation between 800m and 1200m, and the densely forested hills are covered by primary and secondary forest. The climate is warm and humid often with a relative moisture of 90-97%. The average temperature seldom increases over 25°C and drops not under 14°C. During the night it can cool down significantly. The temperature highs and lows may vary depending on the occurrence of a tropical cyclone. 

Best month to visit are from May to November although the dry season usually extends from April to December. Precipitation during the wet season is highest in January with 430 mm and the driest month is August. Because annual rainfall is in the range from ~1,600 to 4,017mm rain can occur every day and it's highly recommended to come with waterproof shoes, rain jacket, and umbrella.  More weather details: Ranomafana Weather Statistics

It is essential to spend enough time in the park and hike to the primary forest at higher elevations. If you only plan to hike the short tracks, it can become very crowded during the peak season (July to September).

MG Madagascar

The Analamazaotra Reserve and the Andasibe-Mantadia National Park are famous for the Indri; the largest lemur still in existence and today classified as critically endangered. The Analamazaotra Reserve is just a three hours drive from Tana, easily accessible and therefore crowded. Although the park is accessible all year, hiking conditions are better during the drier season from April until November. Continue reading to get the most out of your visit.

Black-and-white ruffed lemur in the Andasibe Mantadia National Park
Black-and-white ruffed lemur in Andasibe-Mantadia

Weather and Crowds
  • Dry Season (May to October) - Peak Season
    The weather improves and it gets drier from May onwards. Anyhow, precipitation can always occur in the east for around 210 days each year. Madagascar is a popular destination from May/June to October. Analamazaotra gets pretty busy especially in July and August with visitors from Europe. The best time to visit the entire island is the end of the dry season in September and October. You avoid the heat, and there are fewer mosquitos.
  • Rainy Season (December to March) - Not recommended
    Precipitation increases already in November, but December to February are the worst months and cyclones are likely to happen.  Roads and trails can get flooded. 
  • Shoulder Season (April, May, November)
    The season already starts in April, but April and May are still not too crowded. In November rain increases and crowds thin out. If you can handle precipitation, you experience a much quieter island. Prices are not on the highest level, and plenty of accommodations are available. Different orchids species start blooming when the rain begins until January.

Average Monthly Temperature and Rainfall for Madagascar from 1991-2015

Top Tip to Avoid Crowds

If you are physically fit, and you like hiking a lot visit the Andasibe Mantadia National Park. A 4x4 is recommended to get to this part of the park. There are two existing trails not well developed. You may leave the tracks when following the lemurs to the thick primary forest. It's pure wilderness to hike here, and you may enjoy the lemurs with very few people only. We spent here a whole day hiking, observing lemurs and sweating from the fast pace to follow sifakas and indris. 

Diadem Sifaka in the Andasibe Mantadia National Park
Diadem Sifaka and Baby in September

Where to Stay Close to the Reserve

It's Madagascar, so hotels are commonly below the European standard although some have similar quality. Wifi is not often available. Try to book a hotel where breakfast and dinner are included. Chose wisely where to stay and where you eat your meals. We traveled almost a month through Madagascar, and we saw some people sick from the food. Sometimes we just ate pure rice for dinner only. The Mantadia Lodge Andasibe is the only one we can recommend for 2019. They will spoil you with the best food on entire Madagascar.

MG Madagascar

Koalas are in abundance in the Great Otway National Park. They are often spotted along the Lighthouse Road. Another good spot is along the Great Ocean Road. Koalas start being active from the afternoon onwards. During the day, you may see them resting on a branch in the tree. However, they sleep around 20 hours each day. To increase your chance for an unforgettable sighting stay at least one night in the National Park or along the Great Ocean Road. Do you like to know the exact spots for koala watching? Continue reading and follow the Google Maps Links for an awesome experience.

Sleeping koala in the Great Otway National Park

Weather

Lots of precipitation throughout the year deep in the heart of the Great Otway National Park. Warmer and "drier" conditions from November to April; however, rain can always occur. Winter is the wettest season.

Where to Stay in the Cape Otway National Park

Basic Cottage in the Great Otway National Park
Bimbi Park - Standard Cabin with shared bathroom

There are not many opportunities to chose from if you plan to stay in the Cape Otway National Park. Check out the link for the best prices with booking.com for the four different types of accommodations in the Otway. We'd chosen a Standard Cabin with shared bathroom at Bimbi Park all others were fully booked already.

Don't miss out our entire Great Ocean Road Guide - 3 Days Itinerary - Top Tips - Where to Stay

Great Ocean Road Outlook

AU Australia

Yala is a must if traveling to Sri Lanka. The National Park is popular for the biggest leopards, lots of wildlife and it's birders paradise. Of course, everybody wants to see a leopard at Yala, but to increase the chance of a sighting stay at least two nights! What is the best time to spot them? Read on for our detailed tips:

Big Leopard in Yala, Sri Lanka

Leopards

Yala has the highest density of leopards. The best chance to spot them is around new moon combined with a safari/tour in the afternoon when it’s also less busy. They are more active around dusk during new moon days. 

Jeep congestion while watching a leopard in Yala National Park

Crowds

It’s often very busy with many jeeps. It's super crazy if a leopard got spotted. Avoid weekends and public holidays. The morning safaris are the busiest. You can't enter the park immediately; first, your driver has to queue to get the ticket. Many tourists stay just for one night and leave at midday. The afternoon is much quieter. 

Elephants taking a bath in Yala, Sri Lanka

Wildlife

The best time to spot leopards, as well as other wildlife such as elephants and wild boar, is from May to August. More animals gather around the waterholes during the drier months. From October to December it’s more likely to spot deer, crocodiles, and birds. The park is often closed in September until October (too aggressive animals after a heavy drought). The best time of the day to spot wildlife is either early morning or from afternoon till evening. From late morning until afternoon they usually hide under thick foliage.

Opening Hours and 3 Gates at Yala

The park is open from 6 to 6. Yala is divided into five blocks. Block 4 is not open for safaris. Most visited are Block 1 and 2 with two entrances. Hundreds of jeeps seek for a leopard in Block 1.

  1. Palatupana: Main entrance for Block 1 and 2 is the busiest - waiting time up to one hour in the morning.
  2. Katagamuwa: This entrance to Block 1 and 2 is far less crowded.
  3. Galge: Entrance for Block 3 and 5 and less known. Therefore, you do not need to queue at the Galge entrances.
Our driver was checking the depth of a waterhole
Our driver Amare was checking the depth of a waterhole. 
Weather

In general, you can visit Yala year-round. It's never really bad. The dry season runs from May to September. Increasing precipitation in October. The ‘mild’ rainy season runs from November to January and some more rainfall again in April.

Weather Yala from 1991-2015
Average Monthly Temperature and Rainfall for Yala from 1991-2015

Top Tips Where to Stay

First of all stay at least two or three nights to increase the chance of spotting a leopard. Choose an accommodation which is nearby. Pro; you can go on safari in the morning and afternoon and spend the lunch break at your hotel. 

LK Sri Lanka

Watching "The Gathering" is an outstanding spectacle and takes place in the dry season from July to October with its peak in August and September. The elephants gather in high numbers up to 300 around the water reservoir due to the lack of water. To enjoy this vast amount of elephants try to book a tour for the late afternoon with fewer off-road cars. Usually, the males are only around during the mating season in June - July. The elephants wander around between three different parks, so it's not guaranteed to spot them in high numbers.

Update 2019

The last tripadvisor reviews are deterring. The jeep drivers don't show any respect for these majestic animals; almost chasing. Better go to Udawalawe. We'd been here as well. The drivers stay on the path and don't drive like crazy to the bush. Also, many other animals can be spotted.

Sambar Deer
Samba Deer in Udawalawe

Weather

Showers can occur throughout the year. During May decreasing rainfall while June to September are the driest months. It's often overcast from June to August. The tropical climate has a humidity of around 80 % most of the time. Most precipitation from October until December. January to April it's frequently sunny. You may experience the most pleasant weather conditions between January and September.

LK Sri Lanka