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Published: February 27th 2018
Sunday 25 February – in the Andasibe region (central east coast) & Vacona Reserve
After a leisurely breakfast we were in the 4x4 with Rivo heading for Andasibe Park.
On the way, not far out of Tana, we stopped off at a Reptile Park. Well, were we in for a surprise. At the Reptile Park we saw over 20 different types of chameleons, The island is home to two-thirds of the world's chameleon species, including the smallest known which we saw, and researchers have proposed that Madagascar may be the origin of all chameleons.
Our local guide firstly took us to a large enclosure and for the next 40 minutes we found over 20 different Chameleons in the trees, running on the ground and up the side of the fences. There were all sorts of colours. We even saw a pair aggressively trying to mate, both of which were very different colours.
We then saw tiny, colourful frogs, geckos, ground boa snakes, fruit bats, guinea pigs, and much more, all indigenous to Madagascar. Fascinating!
Next was to head towards the Andasibe-Mantadia Park (often known as Perinet
Park) which is a 155 km2
protected area, with Andasibe National Park comprised mostly of rain forest that has been logged, while Mantadia is primarily old-growth forest. Elevations in the two parks range from 800-1260 meters above sea level; Andasibe primarily consists of lower elevation forest while Mantadia is located at higher elevations.
Now it was time for our first experience with lemurs. As of 2012
, there were officially 103 species and subspecies of lemur, 39 of which were described by zoologists between 2000 and 2008. They are almost all classified as rare, vulnerable, or endangered. At least 17 species of lemur have become extinct since humans arrived on Madagascar, all of which were larger than the surviving lemur species.
We visited Lemur Island in Vacona Reserve near Andasibe by canoe. This was another surprise as I had never seen Lemurs in the wild. The man-made island has been opened to the public since 1996. There are 4 species of lemur on this island 3 being critically endangered. They were the Varecle Vatiegate (black and white), the Propithecus Diadema (black face), and the large Propithecus Diadema (black, orange and white). The endangered one
was the Eulemur Fulvus (common brown). Since the arrival of humans around 2,350 years ago, Madagascar has lost more than 90 percent of its original forest. This forest loss is largely fueled by tavy
("fat"), a traditional slash-and-burn agricultural practice imported to Madagascar by the earliest settlers.
It is anticipated that all the island's rainforests, excluding those in protected areas and the steepest eastern mountain slopes, will have been deforested by 2025.
We were walking around the island and when we found the Propithecus Diadema they all pounced on our head and shoulders. What surprised us was they were so soft, they had no harmful claws and the pads of their feet were soft and they didn’t smell, in fact looked very clean. They had a lovely time with us as we did with them. The Varecle took a bit to find but our guide and his assistant didn’t give up, whistling out to them. This meant there was someone with food!!!!
We then got back into the canoe to find Rivo waiting for us. What a day!!! Rivo drove us through the Andasibe Village on this Sunday afternoon. It looked
like all the village was out watching the soccer match on the centrally-placed field. About 50% of little stall shops, which lined the narrow, unsealed lane, were closed with the 6 pubs being the noisiest. I love waving to the locals as they all wave back with a big beaming smile.
We then drove to the Hotel Analamazotra near Andasibe Park. We were the ONLY guests in this low season. High season is between May and September. We got settled into our room and was very excited to be able to down load all our photos of the day while sipping a cold beer. They served us zebu (beef) with pepper sauce and herb wedges. I little addition was some tiny green chillies which were about ½ cm long but wow, did they pack a punch. I only needed 3 on my plate. Tom put one in his mouth and took it out quickly. Very hot! We slept well they night.
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