Inside the world’s largest stone forest
Isolated and inhospitable, this huge collection of razor-sharp vertical rocks looks like the last place where wildlife would thrive. The colossal ‘Grand Tsingy’ landscape in western Madagascar is the world’s largest stone forest, where high spiked towers of eroded limestone tower over the greenery. But despite its cold, dangerous appearance, the labyrinth of 300ft stones is home to a number of animal species, including 11 types of lemur. ‘The rocks themselves are really sharp, they stick up like giant steak knives. It is one of the most difficult places I’ve ever explored.’
As well as lemurs, the Tsingy de Bemaraha national park is also home to the small carnivorous falanouc, the ring-tailed mongoose, and several bats. More than 100 species of bird have also been recorded as living in the park, along with 45 species of reptile.
Its name, ‘Tsingy’ translates as ‘where one cannot walk’, due to the hazardous formations of razor-sharp pinnacles made from limestone which have been eroded by tropical rain.
Explorer and photographer Stephen Alvarez captured the beauty of the Grand Tsingy when he went there as part of an expedition for National Geographic.