Brekky again at the hotel and then on our way! There are 4 parks near Andasibe, which makes it a really great destination. Today we were out to see sifaka again, common browns, bamboo and more indri. This area has a lot to share!
Our first stop is a literal bunch of bamboo with 2 bamboo lemurs inside eating quietly. They are small and have flatter faces than the browns or ring tailed. They kind of look more like monkeys, especially with their size.
We saw a common brown family- again with a baby! They were somewhat high up on a branch but we had an unobstructed view of them , despite having some other tourists there too. Most of the time we have been so lucky, pretty much being the only ones anywhere, with Etien really going all out to ensure we get to see everything, and close up!
We saw 2 families of Indri and heard them calling to each other (or really probably for each other to stay away). Their territories are very close and so they probably were saying back off more than anything. It is really amazing how big they are like 20-25lbs and their hands are nearly the size of a person’s. Their howling is really intriguing too, so different from the other lemurs. We saw more bamboo lemurs even as well, so we saw many species in this one trip- all up close and personal!
We stopped at a restaurant between the parks. The first one (we stopped at on the way in) was better actually, although less fancy. Here, I listened to an American guy who was hosting a birding tour at the table next to us talking to some other Americans. I heard them mention Washington state, but I didn’t want to butt in. They were watching the birds while waiting for the rest of their crew so we got to see and learn about quite a few vicariously, which is always nice. Lima and Armand ate separately with the other drivers old friends they knew.
I had to go to the bathroom and the couple who mentioned Washington were also there, so I asked if they were from WA, but they said Oregon. They asked about our trip- where we had been and were going, and turns out they are basically doing the opposite of us: they’d been on safari first, then to Madagascar.
They asked about the fires in CA and Puerto Rico, because they had been gone just as all that started happening. I told them things weren’t great- they had not had them under control yet, but hopefully by now. They mentioned how dusty it was on the safari and that we should have some kind of bandanna- which for some reason, Bryan brought one, although he hardly ever wears them anymore. I thought about it but did not- and so now I was wishing I had one- and understanding why the Europeans all had neck scarves on!
Here is where I would like to note my trusty Keen shoes! They were brand new when I got them and never needed any breaking in at all. I have never had such a pair of reliable, comfortable shoes- especially for such strenuous and continuous activity..and never a blister. Thanks Keen!
Next, was one of my favorite parts: Lemur Island. This is a small sanctuary where you can go out to the islands in little canoes and the lemurs will jump on you! Of course they do this for the bananas you have, but hey- I will take what I can get to bribe any lemur to jump on me!
What’s a bit sad though is that these are lemurs who have been saved from being pets in people’s homes and/ or those that have been mistreated. We never want to see that- lemurs really should not be pets, as they are primates. Certain species like the Indri would die if you kept them, because they must have 22 different kinds of leaves to live- and you never know which kinds of leaves they like or want, so you couldn’t predict this either.
This is very much like koalas, who have to eat their mom’s poo within a few days of being born in order to get the right bacteria to digest the eucalyptus she eats. Each only eats like 5 of 72 different kinds, but they all eat a different 5…and babies who are not able to get that poo from their mom will die. It’s almost impossible to raise them when they are found in the wild- unless they have had that poo. How they have them in zoos? They must study them to find out which leaves they eat- and or they are breeding the ones they know will get that poo and eat the leaves they have. Probably many died to discover all this, I imagine…but it is good to know.
Lemurs cannot swim so even a small moat or stream really does the trick (maybe you noticed Seattle’s, Woodland Park Zoo’s are on an island?). Literally we back the canoe up, turn it around and pull it in the other way on the other side.
We first encounter a black and white ruffed lemur who is grunting and staring at the ground. Something he saw down there really upset him because we has shaking too and really intense on the ground. Thankfully a banana pulled him our of his stupor for a minute, but he pretty much went right back to it as we left.
Next we came to another black and white ruffed, who was much more exciting and interested and played a little bit with us. They are really pretty soft- not quite like a chinchilla but even softer and fluffier than a bunny. This guy didn’t mind being petted a little although we didn’t really, just enough to feel the texture of his fur.
While we were looking at that guy, a bamboo lemur came up to us via a tree behind us. So we were feeding him (or her), bananas too and it was munching smacking it’s lips together like a little kid eating gum. It was really great to see this “extinct” lemur alive and well, just a few inches from us- so close we can look in his eyes.
We go around the corner and there are a few common browns- one with a baby! This mom jumped right on my shoulder and the baby was inches from my face! He (or she) kept looking at me like “what are you” and I was trying hard not to cry- or grab it and run. They are sooooooooo freaking cute. Did I mention that yet??
The dad was there too and kept jumping between me and Bryan, so we got some fun pics of lemur butt photo bombs and them messing up my hair and a lot of laughing.
We took the canoe to the next island, but did not get out. We just pulled the kayak up and the guide put a banana piece on a stick in the ground and a sifaka slooowly came over. This is a golden sifaka, and they (or at least this one) was a bit more shy than the others. He would not come grab the banana from me at all, but did come within about 6 feet to that stick and then back to the safety of a tree to eat it.
Unfortunately we couldn’t see him dance, but it was still really great. A brown came out and kept trying to steal the sifakas banana so I fed her while the sifaka debated about coming closer.
Next we passed the “bad lemur” island- the one where there lemurs are aggressive and bite because people have treated them badly and or they just don’t want to be caged. They watch us curiously from tree branches over the canal and from the shore but we don’t stop there.
Last is Ringtail Island. This is apparently, not normally on the tour, but because Armand brings so many people there and we are special I guess! Immediately as we approach, they come running to us and jump to the canoes. They are on our heads and shoulders and trying to get the bananas! We are in stitches as they jump all over and take advantage of us.
These ringtails are smaller, although they appear to be full grown. The seem like the teenage size of the Berenty ones. I am not sure why, but it doesn’t matter because I am just happy to have them all over…especially as they are not native here and otherwise in leaving Berenty, that’d be the last we’d see of them.
I am not sure why, but Bryan must be tasty- one began to nibble on his ear and one grabbed his nose too. While they bounced all over me, none were grabby or nibbly with me- other than my fingers because of the banana. It didn’t hurt Bryan but it is kind of unusual for them to consider tasting people!
It is starting to rain, which is the first we have seen of our whole trip. I guess right on cue, the end of October, start of November is the rainy season here. It’s not raining hard- more like a mist, kind of like Seattle…although later, when back at the hotel for our nap, it does rain quite hard.
Since this place was pretty close to the hotel we head back for a quick nap and then a night walk. Because it’s raining so much on and off, we’re not sure if the walk will take place, but it lets up just as we are about to go- manana vitana (mah-nah-nuh veet-ah-nuh)= good luck!
The rain is so light it seems more like ash in front of the headlamp, especially as you can’t even feel it on your face. We start scanning the trees and bushes for mouse lemurs, and Etien sees one! It’s kind of far away, but we are glad to have spotted at least one.
Then I suddenly start finding a ton of them-5 or 6 actually, which is pretty crazy, because I saw many before Etien did. I told him to watch out because I might take over his job! Of course I meant it as a joke, but then I worried a little that I insulted him…so I was sure to be extra grateful for his finding things and showing us around. He didn’t understand English super well, but he did understand more than he spoke- but I am pretty sure he knew I was kidding.
One of the mouse lemurs was so close we could almost touch it, and unlike the others who run so quickly, this one stayed still so we could actually SEE it. Unfortunately we were dumb and didn’t bring the telephoto lens to get a tight crop on it, so hopefully the zoom on the reg lens worked ok…we have a hard time reviewing the pics because it’s a lot of transferring files and such. It has been the most royal pain in my ass, really. I have spent hours trying to figure things out, between wifi from the cam directly and to the tablet and the phone and the usb storage…
We finished up the walk about 830 and went in directly for dinner. We tried a new drink called BonBon Anglais, which is kind of a fruity, sweet soda- but the name is kind of bizarre. We for sure ordered the pumpkin soup knowing the warmth would be good after the cool walk. The temperature was definitely dropping and much cooler than Berenty, but it was bit refreshing really, comparatively. Especially that I can wear pants to cover up my hideous spots, without being uncomfortable.
The spots have grown in size now, and kind of spread out more, like each bump. They are also now becoming itchy and making me a bit crazy because they won’t stop. I brought Gold Bond cream and even a prescription one I got this summer because I broke out into what we think are stress hives, for the entire summer.
I had different, unknown bumps on my legs and torso which turned into giant quarter sized welts one day (after the bumps had disappeared). So cortisone cream it was for me then- although I am not sure where it is…I will have to find it because the itching is more than Gold Bond’s power! Nothing like wanting to claw your legs off…but as stated, I am really used to this by now!
We went upstairs to pack and lament how it was our last day at Andasibe, which made us terribly sad. I wished we could stay another day because really we won’t have to be on the plane until wed afternoon…it seemed we could squeak in one more night and then an early drive to Tana…but if we missed the flight that’d be it- so to be safe we have to waste a whole day travelling.