Updated: Sep 13, 2022
Why a Wonder: The Red Tsingy (Tsingy Rouge) are jagged stone pinnacles revealed by erosion with remarkable sculpted forms, making them an engaging subject for photography.
Where: The Red Tsingy Reserve is located in the region of Diana in northern Madagascar, an approximately 2-hour drive south of the city of Antsiranana (also known as Diego Suarez). The road is bumpy, becoming a 4x4 road for the last 30 minutes. A local guide and driver are highly recommended.
"Tsingy" is a Malagasy word used to describe jagged limestone formations found in other places in Madagascar (the best known are found in Tsingy Bemahara National Park). The Red Tsingy are not actually true tsingy; instead of limestone, the Red Tsingy are made of laterite (which has high iron-oxide content, resulting in a rusty red coloration).
When: You can visit the Red Tsingy anytime of year, but the road leading to the formations might be in better shape during the dry season from May to October. The tsingy are best photographed at sunset or in the twilight that follows, but you'll need to arrange special permission; try working with your local guide and the park office to arrange for extended access. Sunrise might also yield decent results, but the formations mostly face west.
Photography: There are several tsingy viewing and hiking areas within the Red Tsingy Reserve, and each has its own unique character and are all worthy of exploration (although the Tsingy Canyon area has fencing keeping visitors away from the formations). It is a fascinating experience to walk among these sculpted rocks. The tsingy are very delicate, so be careful not to touch any of the formations. You'll find that wide-angle and normal zoom lenses (24-70mm or similar) are most useful for photographing the formations. Look for interesting contrasts of color and shape. The landscape is primarily red, orange, and yellow, and these colors get very bold at sunset or in the twilight glow before it gets dark. In addition to the pinnacles, you will find a few capstone formations, and plenty of bright red clay with deep erosion patterns.
Learn more: There's not a lot of information about the Red Tsingy online, but this site has some useful information, although it is somewhat outdated: https://www.charlotteplansatrip.com/en/madagascar-en/red-tsingy/
© Ian Plant
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