Madagascar - Part 4, Kirindy National Park and Baobab Avenue

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December 5th 2019
Published: January 5th 2020
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This was one of our busier and most fun days as we planned to visit Kirindy Park and Baobab Avenue at sunset, before finishing the night at the coastal town of Morondava.

Kirindy National Park

We arrived at the Kirindy Reserve Field Station late at night (around 7:30) for our night hike. We drove past the main entrance down a road to where we were able to access the trails a little easier. Our guide met us there, where it was actually a bit crowded, and we put our headlamps on before walking into the woods. He said there were 3 or 4 species of lemur that we expected to see. And we saw our first one pretty quickly and actually found 4 of them in the first 15 minutes: Madame Berthe's mouse lemur, pale fork-marked lemur, red tail sportive lemur, and fat tailed dwarf lemur. Since it was night, it was too difficult to get any photos. But it was so very cool. They were mostly hiding up in the trees. Our guide was a pro at identifying them as was another guy in our group; I just hung at the back of the group with Nolvay waiting to see. There were other critters to see, including large bugs and spiders, intricate spider webs, and even turtle doves.

We then made our way to our resort hotel, which was by far the best of the trip: Relais de Kirindy. We each had little cabins raised off the ground, and they actually had opened the windows to let in a breeze, so the rooms were comfortable. We had dinner in the main area, which was very lovely, and I had zebu kebabs i think. They also had good beer and a very nice pool. Baobabs were dotting the landscape. The resort was just so nice. I felt bad because my duffel bag was super heavy, since I had packed my work supplies for my follow-up trip to Mozambique, but the one girl just plopped it on her head and walked me to my cabin. I was absolutely amazed.

The next morning, we woke early to go back to Kirindy for a hike to see the day time animals, hoping to see the infamous Fossa, the only natural predator in Madagascar. Described as something between a cat and a dog, it is famously elusive, so the chances of seeing it were not that...... oh wait, there it is! As soon as we pulled into the field station, the local staff told us to park quickly and come as a fossa was foraging behind the kitchen area. Sure enough, we walked back there and it was going through a lot of the kitchen scraps. The staff tried to scare it off a bit so we could get a better picture of it then by the trash, but still, it was pretty cool. And yeah, I don't know how to describe what it looks like, so look at the photos.

The field station seems to employ a lot of people that study all the animals that live in the area. It was pretty well run and the first place that we visited that seemed to have ongoing presence and tourists. The resort we stayed at was pretty busy, including with Americans, and it was easily accessible to the field station. The same guide from the night before took us on a walk, this time from the main entrance, and started to point out some of the local wildlife. We saw a hog nose snake (no poisonous snakes in Madagascar) and spiny tail lizard. Next we were able to find the red fronted brown lemur - there were so many! Red fronted brown lemurs live in groups of up to about 15. They leaders are female and are polygamous. They often birth twins.

They also wanted us early because at this point we had a better chance of seeing the baby lemurs, and we did! The boy in our group was able to take one of the may shells laying on the ground and the guide filled with water so he could feed the lemurs. It was so cute!

Well, it was until I got peed on.

As usual, I hung back a bit from the main group, watching the feeding of the lemurs and a nearby mama and baby on the ground, while there were some lemurs up in the tree. And they peed on me! I initially thought they were purposely dropping things on us, but that maybe it was imagination until nope, yep, they're peeing on me! I had a hat on and they basically got my backpack and my right shoulder. I was so surprised I burst out laughing. The other guys did not even notice, but Nolavy and the guide told me it was good luck (they always say that, right) and that it meant I would be married within the year. Hmmm...

We moved on and saw a giant baobab tree with a phallic member sticking out. Then we came to an area of verreauxi sifaka lemurs, which are slightly different from the ones we saw in Tsingy; these white lemurs in Kirindy have a black 'hat'. It was so cool to see such a subtle difference become so glaring as well. They also appeared more active. More brown lemurs passed along behind us on the ground, so we were surrounded by lemurs. I was in heaven. Then it was time to leave.

Relais de Kirindy and sacred Baobab

We returned back to the resort. I could not wait to take a shower (remember, I got peed on) and then we had lunch. A couple of the guys in our group were a little sick, one was pretty sure it was from the shrimp from the night before. They had heard before we arrived not to eat shrimp, especially inland. Just kind of keep that in mind if you do come.... The owner was very nice about it when the guy told her he thought the shrimp was bad and she actually pulled it from the menu.

We had some free time here for a few hours while we waited to leave in the afternoon. Most of the guys spent it in and by the pool. I repacked most of my stuff, trying to put my work stuff on top and all my soiled Madagascar clothes at the bottom. I think I took two showers. It is hard to describe just how hot and humid it was in Mad - you're constantly just dripping sweat and the land is so dry at the same time, you're covered in dust.

Before we left the resort, Nolavy took us to the nearby baobab tree, which the villagers considered sacred. We observed from outside the fence, but you could remove your shoes and go in closer. The native people often associated part of nature (trees, rivers, etc.) with capturing the essence of their ancestors, and it varied place to place. Here it was this giant baobab, and people left and still leave offerings. Outside the area, there were little stands selling hand crafted small wood baobab trees, each with a tag identifying the artist. The guys were set on haggling the cheapest price, but I got mine down to one of her lower prices and I took it and sat in the car to wait.

Baobab Avenue at Sunset

The next exciting phase of our adventure began around 2:30pm, once we checked out and had a final cold beer. We drove about an hour and a half to the famous Baobab Avenue. Dada showed us one area where you could see three different species of baobab in one spot - it was cool once you saw the differences in the trees. Then he dropped us at one end of the avenue and told us to walk through and meet up at the visitor's center at the other end. It was so peaceful. There were other people but it was by no means crowded, as I imagine it is during the high season.

The Visitor Center was quite nice. We were able to get a drink and they offered food and souvenirs as well as clean toilets. Across the street were other food and drink options. They also had expansion visions for the area and it looks well maintained. Nolavy took us about half an hour before sunset to find the best photo spots to set up. It was perfect as me, the Italian woman (who we met up with at the visitor center) and one other guy from our group were able to place our tripods where we wanted. I imagine during high season, it gets a bit more crowded and harder to take uninterrupted photos, but this seemed perfect. People slowly trickled towards us and set up, and for the most part were cognizant of staying behind a kind of imaginary line so we all had a clear shot. I was able to practice with my camera while waiting and so had various settings for my shots. I loved it. One guy S joined us for most of the time, but the other three came and took a few photos before heading back. The rest of us remained for about the whole time and got some amazing shots. I even did some slow-mo cartwheel videos! I told Nolavy that these last three items (Tsingy, lemurs at Kirindy, and Baobab Avenue) made my entire trip worth it and they totally did. It was truly amazing.

Additional photos below
Photos: 28, Displayed: 28


Baobabs - 3 speciesBaobabs - 3 species
Baobabs - 3 species

you see the variations in the three types of baobabs in this photo

7th January 2020
Baobab Avenue at sunset

Beautiful and Amazing
Serene sunset.
8th January 2020
Baobab tree

Really enjoyed reading your blogs on Madagascar Alex and so glad its hopefully on our list to visit this year. Loved your photographs of the Baobab trees and the wildlife too.

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