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A group of lemurs is called a conspiracy. Today we saw about 5 conspiracies or 5 family groups. We visited the Anja Reserve after breakfast. It’s a small 36 hectare park abutting the mountains and has about 450 Ringtail lemurs in about 18 family groups (conspiracies). It was a much easier trail system than Ranomafana, both because it’s a lot smaller and mostly because it’s drier. We’ve arrived into the more scrubby and drier part of Madagascar. Our guide, Samuel, had excellent English and our spotter was there but really not needed. Lemurs were everywhere. We can’t get over how much fun it is to watch them grooming, jumping and playing. Today started out at a chilly 20º Celsius. The lemurs were huddled together to keep warm. Made for a cute cuddle party-style photo shoot. Just a mass of ringed tails and a bunch of faces randomly popping out every once and a while (we called them ‘lemur balls’).

When they are sitting alone, they dramatically wrap their tails around them like a scarf. Very Diva-ish behaviour. Very King Julian from the movie, Madagascar.

We watched them feed and play too. Lots of communication calls. It’s the beginning of mating season and their love call is a little like a cat meow. We heard a few of those.

We also saw a couple of chameleons ‘hiding’ in plain sight. The male is brown and is not able to change colour. The female is usually green, but can go through subtle colour changes. Their eyes can move almost 180 degrees.

We then visited what we called the lemur ‘condos’ which are really caves. The Ringtails in this park sleep in caves at night to protect themselves from the tree boas. The snakes don’t come into the caves because they don’t like rock on their bellies. Tree boas and hawks are the primary predators here.

We climbed up to a viewpoint of the valley. Nice to climb on dry granite after hiking up slick clay cliffs a few days ago.

After about 4 hours driving we arrived in Ranohira. We made good progress because this section of the R7 is a little better. Still lots of one-lane bridges, but less traffic, many fewer potholes and some actual straight-always where we could travel more than 40 km/h. There are still lots of curves here but we know now they can build a road in a straight line. Of course it helps we were on a plain and the jungle is more of a scrub forest instead of dense tropical jungle.

We are staying the next two nights at the incredibly gorgeous Isalo Rock Lodge. Definitely one of those places you find in a travel magazine “Places you have to go” article! We’ve stayed at some incredible places over the years and this one is right up there. Wow. We love the fresh flowers all over the room!

The pool.

The view from the pool.

The view from our patio.

At 520 we drove out to Le Fenetre d’Isalo to see the sunset through a “window” rock formation. Unfortunately, Carl misjudged sunset by about 15 minutes and was upset. Regardless it was beautiful, This whole part of the country is beautiful. Kind of like Alberta Badlands meets Kenyan Masai Mara.

Le Fenetre d’Isalo: we may get a chance to go back tomorrow evening…

Simply stunning scenery from the drive today.

We did enjoy the pool earlier and dinner was quite good if a slightly limited menu. We are done with the Madagascar wine and back to French, a much better option. This lodge is quite the find. Staff are trained very well, incredible views from the property, good food. Only possible downside is the generator is only on 2x per day (morning and evening). We are here for 2 nights and we think we will enjoy every minute of it.

Since our trip two years ago to Ecuador we’ve learned about chocolate. Madagascar has some incredible chocolate too. At a gas station Dave found a local bean to bar manufacturer. 70% cacao with nibs and sea salt. Yum! We will endeavour to find more like that for sure.

Tomorrow we hike in the park on the Massif. Somewhere in the middle around lunch we have a bush lunch. We may see lots of fossils and maybe some more Ringtails. It will be a long day but good we hope.

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