Tag Archives: Analamazaotra

Analamazaotra and Andasibe Nature Reserves

Saturday 8 June 2024 – We had a really content-rich day today, as you’ll see from the length of this post (I suggest you get yourself a cuppa or a glass of something cold and settle down to it if you want to get through it in one sitting). As usual, it started with an 0530 alarm call and an 0730 departure.  We had only two destinations, but did four walks during the day.  In the case of three of them, I was struck by the similarity of wildlife walks and Wagner operas.  It was Rossini who said, “Wagner has some wonderful moments, but some dreadful quarter hours”. Similarly, walking around in Madagascar contains some wonderful moments, but also hours of tedious crashing through undergrowth, overgrowth, mud and tree roots. Sometimes in the rain.  I got quite tired and grumpy at one stage, since we’d only managed about 10 hours’ sleep over two nights; but nonetheless we came out with some good photos and some lovely experiences.

I haven’t talked much about the weather we’ve experienced so far, apart from moaning about mentioning the rain. Actually, we’ve been quite lucky in that it hasn’t often rained on us so as to ruin our enjoyment. The temperatures have been on the cool side – about 12°C in the mornings, a few degrees warmer during the days.  Today ended up in wonderful sunshine and temperatures in the low twenties Celsius, but as we left our hotel room, the start of the day was misty and cool.

Walk No. 1 was in a local National Park, the Analamazaotra Reserve.  Kenny told us that this was secondary rainforest (i.e. there’s been a degree of replanting over the years), that it was smaller than the primary forest we’d visited in Mantadia and more visited; also it was Saturday, so it was likely to be quite popular.  This view was supported by the activity in the hotel car park.

There were several tourist minivans awaiting groups from the hotel, and we knew that one such group was a bunch of Americans; we wondered if they were headed for the same place as us (see later).

Like most of the reserves we’ve visited, Analamazaotra offers toilets at the entrance.  There’s little doubt which is the way to the gents, that’s for sure.

We met Abraham, as before, and set off into the reserve.

The double line of blocks is something we’ve come across several times.  It’s not necessarily unbroken, but is a common way of laying the trails.  Abraham, of course, led us off the trails a few times, so there was quite a lot of crashing through undergrowth.  It wasn’t raining, but it obviously had been, as we were mercilessly dripped on by the forest trees.

It was half an hour before we came across anything noteworthy, and that was a quite substantial termites nest.

Someone had poked a hole in the top, and the termites were busy mending it.

At around the same place there was a wonderfully-shaped spider’s web,

but it was a further 30 minutes before we came across any major wildlife.  However, it was a splendid encounter, with a family group of Diademed Sifakas, At  first, they were a bit elusive;

but eventually we got good visibility of them, feeding in a really athletic fashion.

They were lovely to watch, so I took lots of pictures. Obviously.

The popularity of the reserve was demonstrated by the number of other people who had congregated to watch and photograph the action.

I have no right to be snarky about this, but I quite resented all these other people trying to get in on my action. At one stage, the entire group of about a dozen Americans from our hotel tramped past us in their search for things to see. The place was really quite crowded.

A few minutes after we left the Sifakas, we heard Indris shouting at each other, much closer than we had the day before, so I recorded a bit more of the sound, as it’s really (a) distinctive and (b) loud – apparently the Indri call is among the loudest animal calls known.

We did get to see the Indris, but they were very high up and I didn’t get any striking images or video, just a few snaps.

We pressed on again, and eventually Abraham led us off another path, which took us by a fish farm, something one doesn’t normally expect to find in a forest.

It’s partly a research facility, partly commercial, but the farming seems to be done in a responsible way, starting fish in the smaller enclosures you see above, and moving them between enclosures as they grow, then into successively larger enclosures before extraction.

A few metres on from this view of the fish farm, we got the second charming encounter of the day; two Eastern Grey Bamboo lemurs, stuffing their cute little faces with loquats.

The path then led to the Green Lake.

Yup. It’s green.  Not a lot to add to that, though, I have to say. And it was the last thing we saw on the walk, which was five kilometres spread over four hours, hence (looking at how many encounters we had) my comment about the similarity with Wagner’s music.

On the way back for lunch at the hotel, we stopped at Andasibe village and walked through it.  It’s very picturesque and colourful any day of the week, but this was market day!

Obviously, I took a load of photos of this very vibrant, colourful and noisy place. I have put them up on Flickr, if you’d like to take a look. Walking through the village also gave us an insight into what people of colour must feel in the UK; everyone was smiling, friendly and welcoming – but we were the only white faces in the village. I felt like an intruder, even though I wasn’t being looked at that way.

It was now lunchtime, the sun had come out and it was a glorious day.

During the afternoon, we returned to the VOIMMA (community-run) reserve at Andasibe, as Jane wanted to see some chameleons during the day time when we’d see their best colours. Thus started another Wagnerian walk.

After about half an hour, we saw a Parson’s Chameleon, which is the largest of the Madagascan chameleons.

Chameleons move very slowly.

We saw very little for the next 40 minutes or so. But then what happened was rather lovely – a group of common brown lemurs came to play with us.

I had never expected to get this close to lemurs, but these were clearly habituated to humans.  They didn’t even appear to mind when the arsehole of a Frenchman who was also at the scene started using them for selfies and had to be warned off actually touching them.  The vacuousness of some people utterly bewilders me.

We saw no wildlife of any pith or moment for the rest of the walk, but our path took by the river, across which was a Sacred Place.

This is reserved for spiritual occasions. The colours, red and white, represented the colours of the king’s first and second wives in those times when the island had a monarch (deposed by the French in 1897). It seems to be used to mark special occasions, sometimes accompanied by an animal sacrifice.

After an all-too-brief rest back at the hotel, we embarked on the final walk of the day, a night walk around the Analamzaotra reserve.  This was clearly also a popular option for a Saturday night.  We started off along a road and there were dozens of people in front of us all heading along the same route.  The path led by a lake, and it was faintly amusing to see our American gang from the hotel walking along the opposite side,

We didn’t see much, to be honest.  A poor unfortunate Goodman’s mouse lemur got spotted

and caused another of those feeding frenzies which I find so uncomfortable.

Apart from that, all we saw was a small (but pretty) frog

and a couple of big-nosed chameleons.

A note, here.  Their noses might be big, but they themselves are tiny.

Thus ended a day which seemed to be largely filled with tramping round dripping rainforest, but which had actually had some really lovely moments.

Sorry to have droned on for so long about the day, and well done for reaching this point. We leave Andasibe tomorrow and take the five-hour drive back to Tana, albeit via a final wildlife walk, so I doubt there’ll be that much to write about. You’ll have to keep reading these pages to find out, won’t you?