After a nice breakfast we visited Analamazotra (Indri special reserve) for a much easier and much shorter walk to find more lemurs. There are 97 species of lemurs in Madagascar, having split off from the monkey family prior to the island breaking off from mainland Africa. We also learned that lemur comes from the words “the death” or Le Muer due to the wail of the Indri. It is a mournful wail. As we entered the trails three family groups started up a nice cacophony. Their song can be heard up to 3 – 4km away. We were right underneath two ‘singing’ Indri at one point. Bullhorn loud. Way cool to experience that.
We saw some Golden Sifaka (also called Diademed or Dancing) first. They are called Diademed because of their white fur ‘tiara’.
It was amazing to watch them feed on leaves. They eat their own weight in leaves each day. That’s a lot of celery for us humans to consume.
Not even 200 feet later we saw two Indri.
It was these guys we heard singing. We should have got a recording but we were too mesmerized to think to.
We also saw a few bamboo lemurs.
And on our way back to the SUV we saw a dozen or so common brown lemurs commuting through the trees. They have evolved to eat pine cones as well as other seeds instead of just leaves and fruit. Maybe they are so common because they can evolve quickly. They make a sort of snorting pig noise to communicate.
There are less than 500 Indri left in Madagascar. They are seriously endangered. They are territorial, picky eaters and only give birth every 2-3 years. They are almost impossible to keep in captivity due to their very specialized diet.
A short two hours later we headed back on the road to Antsirabe for an overnight. The real destination is Ranomafana Park. But that is over 11 hours by car so we split it into two days. We did stop for lunch at a fast food place called La Gastronomie Pizza. It was food and fast, we will concede that. To further break up the ride we stopped at an aluminum factory. Why you say? We didn’t ask for that; however, once we saw the scale of the place we were happy to leave some money behind. Dave visited the Teck Cominco smelter when working for Dell. Huge multi acre place with lots of technology. This was a dozen or so mud huts arranged in a U. The smelting fires in the middle. Filthy boys with bare feet and no gloves moving molten aluminium from the fires to the casting sand molds. They were making cooking pots today. We saw recovered aluminum in a pile to be melted down. A car rim, some sort of exhaust manifold and bits of window frame all waiting to become a pot. We were there less than 20 minutes and both left feeling sooty and dirty. We did however buy a souvenir aluminium lemur statue. Happy to pay their asking price. I’m sure we got hosed but for $6 CAD we didn’t care. The children surrounding our car asked for ‘bonbons’ but we have learned over the years that it is better to spend money on the wares for sale than to bring pencils or candy for the kids.
Another couple hours and we made it to the Plumeria Hotel in Antsirabe for a quick overnight. We may be the only people here. Our room is very clean, internet works and the bed is nice. All we really need for one night.
Dinner was at the hotel restaurant and Dave had a tasty lamb stew and Kris had equally tasty vegetarian spaghetti. That and a nice bottle of wine was less than $50. Food here has been relatively inexpensive way above our expectations. Very French.
Tomorrow is another drive day to get us to more lemurs.