We’re staying at the lovely Vakona Forest Lodge which is great; the lodge encompasses several walking tours as well as the very cool Lemur Island, which is a refuge for many different species of lemur.
Nearby is Analamazoatra Reserve, the part of Andasibe-Mantadia NP that is home to the indri-indri, Madagascar’s largest lemur. Here you can see lemurs in the wild.
The National Park itself is a haven for lemurs, which have suffered due to land clearing. The National Park is now a protected area where the lemurs can hopefully thrive again. There are 10 different species in the Analamazoatra Reserve (four diurnal and six nocturnal) and each species lives in groups/families, but they live in harmony with each other as they have slightly different diets and are active at different times.
I think the most amazing part for us, both in Analamazoatra Reserve and over on Lemur Island, was hearing the lemurs call to each other. The indri-indri have an incredible call (similar to a Siamang I guess, if you’ve ever heard one) and the ring-tail lemurs have several, easily distinguishable calls for different situations. Their “alarm” call is amazing: high-pitched from air danger, e.g a hawk, and low-pitched for ground danger, such as a snake. They stand up on their hind legs to make the call and we were blown away by how loud it is for such a small animal!
Just a note: All lemurs we saw are are endemic to Andasibe, with the exception of the ring-tail lemurs, which are endemic to the South of Madagasar only. We were luckily enough to see them because there is a large family on Lemur Island, which is home to Lemurs that have been rescued from various fates.
Antananarivo is busy, loud and gritty and it both challenges and invites us to learn more. It’s beautiful yet run-down, regal yet dilapidated and it throws a million different thoughts in our faces as we travel through it.
Crazy traffic. ‘Markets’ lining the roadside for miles selling nothing but big, fat sausages or even bigger, fatter ducks. Two guys wheeling a cart full of church pews through the crowd. Minivans with 25+ people in them, some hanging out the back door.
Our hotel is a beautiful converted mansion on top of a hill, right next to the old Queen’s castle and overlooking the whole city. We watched the sunset from our balcony and finally felt the romance that’s been missing from our honeymoon – Tana is definitely not where we expected to find it and yet, here it is.
We’re buzzing. We’ve literally been here for four hours and we are absolutely bursting with ideas and questions – but these are taking a backseat as we’re so over-excited to tell everyone else about it!
As usual, “a picture tells a thousand words” so have a look for yourself…
There was a group of about 15 boats about 300m offshore. We saw them and thought we would just sail straight past them, but instead we joined the,. At this point we figured the drivers would just have a quick word to each other, perhaps trade a couple of tips and co-ordinate their movements so we weren’t all in the same area, but it turned out they had spotted a dolphin and so we joined the chase too. Next thing we knew we had 16 boats (that’s approximately 160 people) chasing this one lone dolphin, trying to corner it so it wouldn’t escape.
I was disgusted and when our driver saw that I was visibly upset, he laughed in my face.
I tried to get in the water even though I didn’t want to be near the dolphin as I didn’t want to add to the problem, but I had been given faulty snorkelling gear. By the time it was fixed, the driver told me I was too slow and was no longer allowed to get in. (‘Yelled at’ is more appropriate than ‘told’, to be honest.)
Eventually the dolphin managed to escape and Logan and I cheered for him. The poor thing was probably already in a pickle because his pod were nowhere to be found, and here were 160+ humans with loud boats chasing him, jumping on him, yelling, splashing and trying to disorient him.
Tomorrow we are sailing a catamaran to Ile aux Cerfs; hopefully we have better luck.