In the car now, long drive today with some stops along the way en route to Antsirabe. Traveling about 8 hours today, give or take, depending on the roads. Driving in Madagascar is not for amateurs. The national roads are decent, but narrow with frequent potholes. Driving here is all about passing, even on curvy roads, as the huge semis drive so damn slow. And with many villages along the road, you have to watch out for people too. I will not be driving here. Ever. I suspect my brother Larry or my friend Craig would LOVE driving here.
Driving through Tana today as we make our way west, to warmer weather. Cold yesterday, but the warm over night brought some relief. We plan to stop in Ambatolampy after Tana where craftsman make aluminum pots, seems like a cool spot!
Tuesday morning we had a leisurely morning in our beach front bungalow in Ankanin’ny Nofy, with a long breakfast, naps and reading in the hammock. I had planned to swim, but the cool rain and wind made for perfect reading instead. After lunch we took the boat back to Manambato, rough waters but fun ride! Then we again braved the muddy unpaved road back to the national road, again, grateful I’m not the driver. We headed back to the center of the country to Andasibe. After dropping off our bags, we met our guide and set off for a night walk. We mostly walked along the road as the national forest is closed at nights, but we were able walk a little in the forest. We saw chameleons, stick insects, and some nocturnal lemurs. Their eyes glowed bright with the flashlight.
The next morning we woke early and set off to trek in Andasibe National Park with both Lee and our guide, Anore. We hiked up and down and up and down through the rainforest. We saw groups of lemurs high in the canopy and heard their chatter, especially the Indri who love to talk. We also walked along the road to look for birds and found some more chameleons. We hiked another trail to a waterfall, which was small but beautiful. The highlight of the hike was a brown lemur closer to the ground while his group hung out in the canopy. He just munched, munched, munched on a tree right in front of us.
After lunch (and WiFi! Woo hoo), we visited a private reserve, Vakona Forest Lodge, situated in the national forest. They had an area with crocodiles, who were lounging about and some slid into the water for a swim. They had enclosures for baby and teenaged crocs as well and other enclosures for geckos, chameleons and a fossa. The fossa was cool, she looked like a cross between a cat and a mongoose and was about the size of a small dog. Fossa are the only natural predator of the lemur, other than lemurs. The enclosures in the private reserve were huge, like a private zoo.
Then we hopped in canoes and paddled to the lemur islands. Lemur islands is where you want to be always. They had five or seven different islands with groups of lemurs on each. Lemurs don’t swim (they hate water) so they stay on the island. We were the last guests to visit and the sun was setting, but the guide was able to lure them out with carrots. These lemurs were friendly and bold!!! They jumped all over us, Brown lemurs, black and white tufted lemurs, and we saw shy little grey bamboo lemurs. Again, they had the softest little hands and took the carrots so gently. One brown one stand on my shoulder while I walked back to the canoe. He hopped off when the water was near. Our guide paddled us around the little islands while the sun set. We paddled to another island and stayed in the canoe while ring tailed lemurs came to visit. There were so many of them and they were so fast, hopping in the canoe and bouncing all over us. Of course, they love carrots as well. They were hysterical! Ring tailed lemurs are found in the West and south, so we might see them out west.
Tomorrow we have another long drive out to the west from Antsirabe to Kirindy. We will drive along baobabs Avenue, which is famously photographed. Kirindy reserve will be another opportunity for wildlife viewing! Madagascar is a huge country, so we have many days with long drives. But the landscapes are gorgeous, the villages are cool, we had a lot of snacks (American and Malagasy) and are sharing our playlists. Makes for a fun road trip!
The two photos of me with the lemurs were taken by Amanda Bielskas!