We started our morning walk at the same time as the children headed for school. And since the school is next to the Hippocampe Lodge, we passed plenty of kids. Most stared; some waved. This is the gateway to the largest national park, so most of the kids had seen a white person before (there was a white woman with two young blonde children at the school).
The night before, our guide proposed a new route. He drew it on the ground so that we would understand him. We’d start far away and make a loop that ended at the national park sign so I was very surprised when we started scrambling up the mess of tree roots that constituted our path the first day. This was the route that we declined when offered the day before.
To be fair to our guide Alden, we did see a red ruffed lemur on this path, and many people visit the park without ever seeing one of these creatures.
And we turned off the path at one point after the initial scramble so that we didn’t have to go by the point that was only accessible because Alden held some branches back. Every time he said there was no more up, there would be more up. But the forest was beautiful. The trees aren’t of the scale of Vancouver Island’s. In temperate rainforest terms, it’s more like a second growth forest with lots of undergrowth and new trees pushing their way up. Because of this, it’s a fresh green colour and there is a wide variety of texture at each level.
At one point on the way down, I slipped and went so quickly that my butt ended up lower than my feet. I’m still trying to figure out how I turned. Needless to say, it was more of a surprise than anything and now I’ve got some nice scrapes on my left elbow and shin.
Afterwards, Alden seemed afraid that I would fall again, and walked one pace ahead of me. It was kind and annoying.
We heard more lemurs than we saw. At times, they sound like a cat fight. Other times, it’s just one lemur would sound off to see if there were others nearby.
We did see a group of white fronted browns. There were enjoying some fresh leaves and generally kept a screen of trees between them and us.
After lunch, Anita and I went for a swim in the ocean in front of the lodge. We watched the rain come in over the area we that walked in that morning. It looked more like mist than rain, with cloud adding definition to the ridges. We spent much of our time in the shade of a tree that reached over the water. Sun, shade and wonderfully warm water.
Not long after we got out, a heavy rain began over the camp. It lasted about an hour, and at five minute intervals, I thought it must be coming to an end.
It did, and before dinner, we tried another night walk. This time, we saw a Sportif lemur in a tree right on the beach. The wind had started and the poor thing was hanging on for dear life.
By the time we walked the half kilometre back to our lodge, the wind was howling so much that we were persuaded to have dinner in our bungalow instead of the waterfront common room, with its open air views.
This 25 second video features the sounds of lemurs in the Masoala primary rainforest.