Today, I had my last walk in a Madagascar forest. Anita still has tummy troubles, so I went on my own. The forest in Kirindy is a dry forest, in wet season. It was green but more sparse than the rainforests of the centre, north and west of Madagascar. The large trees in this forest are baobabs, and this park has three different species. One has smooth bark, one has rough bark and the third has smooth bark and a canopy that grows on several planes. The classic baobab has branches on a single plane, high above the forest floor.
On our night walk the day before, we saw a fat tailed dwarf lemur, two different grey mouse lemurs and a fork marked lemur. Nocturnal lemurs are solitary and this makes them harder to spot.
The day walk started with a fossa sighting. Fossa are one of the two lemur predators. We saw the other in our first park, Amber Mountain. From a distance, the fossa looked like a dog. It was sleek, maybe about 15 kilograms and sleek, not hairy. The face is more cat like, and it’s stride is midway between a cat and a dog.
This particular fossa was hanging around the park’s developed area. It even indulged in the Malagasy equivalent of dumpster diving. There are plenty of signs telling you not to get closer than 10 meters, so I declined the guides repeated offers to go closer.
The highlight of this forest was the baobab. I’m used to seeing them in fields, and it was a surprise to see them amongst the trees and bushes. We even found a baobab flower. It was yellow, about 10 cm big, and had a spray of stamen, kind of like the cardinal hat tree that we saw on the beach at Masoala, though not as dense.
Last day lemurs were west coast safaka, and a few red fronted browns. These were in the canopy when John the guide spotted them. They moved down to the forest floor, first jumping then walking down a windfall.
We lunched at our lodge, and some other guests appeared for a mid-day swim and meal. Fortunately the beetles that plagued us the night before were nocturnal and we were not bothered during the day.
Mid afternoon, we set out for our next adventure— the baobab amoreuse. This is a pair of baobab the spiral around each other. Apparently there are two such trees. One is in a high traffic area, and people have carved their names and dates into it. We went to the tree less visited. We tromped through the forest to get to it, and discovered it’s in a clearing accessible by road. More fun to take the forest trail though.
Then we drove 1.5 hours to the avenue, arriving around 5 pm. The sun was due to set at 7, so there was plenty of time to hurry up and wait. There’s a visitor information centre, gift shop and drinks stand, so we found a place to sit and flip through a textbook on lemurs.
Visiting the avenue at sunset was definitely worth the wait. The trees radiate as the light changes, resulting in a magical and memorable experience, even though we shared it with 30 other tourists.
The other visitors were Asian, American and European. It was the first stop on our trip with a high Asian component.
On to another hotel and a good nights sleep.
Fossa (lemur predator)
A red-fronted brown lemur in the Kirindy National Park Reserve.
A baobab flower.
Avenue of the Baobabs at sunset