Madagascar diary, day 3. July 30, 2010

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This day we can sleep late, until about 7:30, because we only leave at 9:00. On the other hand, we have to pack all our luggage because we will check out of the hotel. The route across 145km of curves brings us toward the east of the island, towards the rain forests near Andasibe, half way to the harbor city of Tamatave.

Terraced culture and rural houses.

We regularly make stops along the road to make pictures: landscapes, people working or doing laundry, traffic. Here in the highlands, it is not a problem to take pictures of people; our guide tells us that only in the south of the island people do not like to have their portraits taken.

Gecko on a piece of dead wood in the Peyreras reserveUroplatus gecko in the Peyreras reserve, sitting on the thumb of our local guide

Half-way, at approximately 11:00, we stop at a small park, the Peyreras reserve, where we see and hold many reptiles, many of them nocturnal and half asleep.

After the visit we continue our trip until the last village before the rain forest, where we enjoy a quiet lunch.

In the morning it had been cloudy, but as we enter the rain forest the weather clears, and it becomes a rare beautiful dry day. Since this is such a pleasant surprise, our guide changes the program: rather than having the rest of the day to ourselves, he changes the program to include the visit to lemur island and the hotel reserve including crocodile park today and moves the free afternoon to tomorrow. To visit lemur island the water is crossed by kayak.

Lemur sitting on Rob's hat on the Lemur island of the Vakona forest lodge Lemur on the lemur island of the Vakona forest lodge

A park guide takes a banana to lure the animals. We get pieces of banana on our hands, and different kinds of lemurs jump on our shoulders to get their treat. Others prefer staying in the trees but pull our clothes until they can reach the food from there.

 

Flash picture of a wild lemur high up a tree, showing an extra pair of baby eyes

The visit to the reserve and crocodile park is set up as a survival: once the guide discovers that Maxim loves the hanging bridges, he crosses as many as possible on our tour. During our tour into the wild areas the guide points out some wild lemurs; as he takes a picture with Maxim's camera the flash goes off, and from the eyes that show up on the image we can see that the animal is a mother with a child.

Nocturnal tree frog in the hotel reserve of the Vakona Forest Lodge

In the evening, just before dinner, we make another trip: a night visit through the hotel reserve. Originally, the program calls for a night visit through the vast national park at 30 minutes drive, but because of the winter season it is very difficult to find night animals there, so our guide easily convinces us that a tour through the smaller hotel reserve is better. The guide (same one as the afternoon tour) proves to be a master in locating different animals: little chameleons not bigger than half a finger, different kinds of geckos and tree frogs. Above us we can see countless stars in the moonless night.

Evening twilight view on the restaurant of the Vakona Forest Lodge from our room high up the hillReturning to the hotel, we enjoy the meal that we ordered before leaving for the night trip: a traditional meal (adapted for tourists) with a local Three Horses Beer. Early to bed, because tomorrow we will leave at 7:30 for a daytime visit of the national park.

 

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