Dec 16, 2019: Analmazaotra National Park

We started the day with a three-hour walk in Analamazaotra National Park, in the Andasibe area. It was a five minute drive from the hotel, and offered a variety of options. We chose Circuit Indri 2, and went down a wonderful path. It was paved with large flat stones, possibly for erosion control. It’s probably the most visited national park and needs this extra protection. Regardless, after the knotted-root masses of Masoala, it was positively easy walking. 

We passed groups of tourists emerging from a stand of bamboo. Our guide decided it wasn’t worth our time to attempt to see whatever the crowds had (Bamboo lemurs are often found in that spot, according to the guide books). Our guide had more exclusive viewings in mind. Up we went to the highland, and the viewing began. I’ve lost track of the order, but we saw a pair of bamboo lemurs curled up with each other, a reddish yellow diadimed Sifaka, common brown lemurs and a trio of indri. Indri are the largest lemur, black and white with strong legs and short tails. 

We enjoyed most sightings on our own with other tourists joining us. The indri already had an audience and it soon felt like every white person in the park was gathered there. 

For the most part, our guide used the main trail as a reference point. He’d bushwhack along deer trails, constantly alert to the possibilities. We were beside a pandan bush watching common browns high in some trees when I heard clacking sounds. This was the fruit dropping on the hard leaves. The lemurs were shaking the tree to loosen the fruit and the ripest fell off. 

We left Indri Circuit 2 and descended on a steep sub trail to Indri Circuit 1. Here was saw agerum growing all spindly in the wild, instead of compact like we see in North American gardens. A few beetles and butterflies later, and we were back at the park headquarters. 

It was time to drive another three hours to the coast then take the rutted dirt track to the boat. The ride to the Palmarium was across two lakes, through a channel then across another lake. Rain started to fall on the final lake. That’s what you get when you travel to a rain forest in rainy season. 

The Palmarium was a surprise. It’s a resort in a former palm plantation. Guests have safari-tent style bungalows, with balconies facing a steep wooded slope to the water. The gentle sounds of waves lapping is incessant. Compared to our other stops, it’s luxury. 

The biggest surprise though was the proximity and abundance of lemurs. They come up to the balcony railing, and closer if you let them. The ones in this area are introduced— the variety is extraordinary with different species living together. It’s amazing, captivating and pleasant. 

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Oh that I could remember what kind of lemur this is.  Possibly a bamboo lemur.

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Visitors to Analamazaotra National Park watching some lemurs high in the trees.

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The sifaka that everyone’s looking at.