An injury, a night walk and our first lemurs!

Community Highlights Africa & The Middle East An injury, a night walk and our first lemurs!

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On the outskirts of Antananarivo

The drive to Andasibe

I slept well although could have done with longer to make up for the night before. But we had an early start for our drive to the Andasibe-Mantadia National Park with Solu and Michel. They picked us up at 7.30 am after breakfast and we started our drive east. At first it was slow progress through Tana, with lots of traffic negotiating roundabouts controlled by policemen.

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On the outskirts of Antananarivo

Then we joined national road 2, the main route to the east coast. There were lots of trucks coming from the port and the road condition wasn’t great, but we enjoyed watching the landscape (lots of paddy fields) and passing through small towns.

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Paddy fields

At one point we stopped so that we could get better photos of the scenery while Michel talked to us about the typical houses which are always built of mud, wood or brick which the Malagasy consider to be 'warm' materials, while cold stone is reserved for the family tombs that also dot the landscape.

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Typical houses

We later stopped at a petrol station (in I think Moramanga) as Michel recommended the loos there, which were basic but clean. We also had a coffee there, which was very good. We were also able to take a few better street photos than we'd managed from the moving car!

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In Moramanga

Soon after that the road condition deteriorated and there were lots of roadworks. Twice we were stuck at a standstill for about twenty minutes. But there was usually something interesting to see in the vicinity, although it got a bit hot in the car at times!

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Roadworks in Moramanga

Mantadia Lodge

We arrived at our hotel near the national park around 12.30. We were welcomed with peach iced tea and talked through options for our time here with Michel. For today we voted for a relaxing afternoon and an evening walk to see some night critters.

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Our room at Mantadia Lodge

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View from our room

After leaving our bags in our very attractive room we returned to the restaurant for a light lunch (I had some veggie sushi and a refreshing virgin mojito) and then went back to the room to settle in a bit. While it was indeed attractive, and large, with a terrace overlooking trees and greenery, it also had one unfortunate design detail. The mattress was on a large wooden platform (you can see it in the middle photo above), which I managed to walk straight into and bruise my shin badly!

Despite the very sore leg I was keen to have a swim in the beautiful hotel pool, so I headed there while Chris caught up with messages etc. in the room. He had planned to join me later, but a storm was rumbling around so instead I went back to the room after my swim.

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The pool

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Green day gecko

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Poinsettia in the grounds

The storm didn’t really materialise although there were a few drops of rain. We sat out on our terrace for a while enjoying the fresher air and view of the trees.

Our first night walk

Soon it was time to get ready for our night walk in the nearby V.O.I.M.M.A. reserve. In addition to the national parks in Madagascar there are a number of small community-run reserves. In these local people care for and maintain their patch of forest. The money they get from visitors, e.g. for guiding and souvenir sales, is invested into both the village and the upkeep of the forest. One such reserve is V.O.I.M.M.A. in the Andasibe area, which we visited for this walk (the national parks are off-limits at night). The acronym stands for Vondron’olona miaro mitia ala, which translates to ‘Local people love the forest’. And they do!

Before setting out I spotted a huge spider on the wall of the restaurant which Michel told me was a Nephalia.

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Nephalia spider and shadow

We drove a short distance and parked by the station in the village of Andasibe. There we met our local guide Wiliam and another tourist who was to accompany us, Rosie. The walk was on the road at first, then we turned among the trees. The path was good in places, less so elsewhere, with lots of tree roots, so I used the torch on my phone. I didn’t want to injure myself twice in one day!

William found quite a few animals to show us, using his head torch to illuminate them. We saw a leaf-tailed gecko, Eastern woolly lemur (very hard to photograph), mouse lemur (impossible to photograph!), two tree frogs, a ground frog, and two tenrecs, an animal new to me, plus a few insects such as a caterpillar and a stick insect.

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Leaf-tailed gecko

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Eastern woolly lemur ~ apologies for the poor quality!

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Tree frog

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Tenrec

Towards the end the path got rougher and there was a short steep climb that nearly defeated me!

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Pork dish

We got back to the hotel later than we’d expected and very hot and sticky, but Michel offered to let the restaurant know we were running late and wouldn’t make our 7.30 reservation. It was after eight when we got to the restaurant in the end. We enjoyed our dinner (watercress soup, a pork dish with a local spinach-like vegetable, creme caramel), washed down with THB (Three Horse Beer).

This featured blog entry was written by ToonSarah from the blog Travel with me ....
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By ToonSarah

Posted Wed, Dec 06, 2023 | Madagascar | Comments