Today was the day for us to see lemurs for the first time. We drove down the road to Maromizaha Forest Park which is less well known than the national park and therefore less touristy. Carl drives a Nissan Patrol SUV and today we needed it. There are some rim-eating potholes on the main roads but today we were full on 4×4. This is the road we travelled up. Yes that’s the road on the left. You see that small patch of red dirt? Yeah that.
The weather was overcast and rain was in the forecast. We are in Madagascar at the tail end of the rainy season after all. But we are in wild lemur territory so we were excited to go find some. Remember I said less well known? Well the trail system is a little rough. Graded gravel trails this was not. Here is an example of the trail we hiked.
Those are mud stairs. Yes it was techinical and tough but we were rewarded. Both with views like this:
And a total of 4 different lemur species. This is a primary forest, meaning never logged, and quite pristine.
The first species we saw were Indri. They are the largest lemur. We saw three of them but they were all back lit into clouds and the photos need some serious work when we get home. But here is what we have for now. The Indri have only a little stub of a tail.
We also saw a golden sifaka family of three.
A Gray Bamboo lemur family, the smallest diurnal (daytime) lemur:
Black and white ruffed (endemic to this park)
You know it’s a good day when your guides are excited. We also saw a couple chameleons in the wild as well. We gather that’s pretty rare.
There were some huge centipedes. They look like huge wood bugs but a nice green.
All in all a very successful, if difficult, day. We emerged some six hours later, scratched up, mosquito bitten (despite liberal Deep Woods Off applications) and more than a little bit damp and muddy. But we got to see lemurs in the wild. And lots of them, closer than our guides were expecting. Days like that are hard to come by.
We weren’t done yet though. On our hotel property has a sanctuary for lemurs that have been freed from being house pets but can’t go back to the wild. As previous pets they are very habituated to humans. There are five islands, one of which you can take a canoe across to visit. Guides have food (carrots and bananas) to help encourage interaction with the tourists. It was very cool to see them up close and personal after seeing them in the wild.
This one has Meme written all over it.
We must have booked the VIP package, because our guide took us on a canoe ride around the other four islands that you’re not allowed to land on.
We got to see a couple Red Ruffed lemurs (so pretty)
The last island on the tour has the ring tails. Or King Julian if you’ve seen the Madagascar movie.
They were so much fun to play with, even if they only wanted our carrots and bananas. They felt like cats fur wise. Well worth the touristy experience.
Tomorrow we have one more bush hike and then a six hour drive to Antsirabe.