We left behind the Seychelles having fell in love with the hawksbill turtles, and headed south west over the Indian Ocean to the fourth largest island in the world – the biodiversity hotspot that is Madagascar.
The Seychelles has been called the ‘Switzerland of Africa’ due to it’s general wealth and expensive cost of living, this however was in stark contrast to Madagascar where poverty is rife. It quickly reminded me of my past trip to India with many beggars and people sleeping on the street.
The cost of living here was to be very different with meals costing between £2-3. A large beer would now cost 60 pence as opposed to £4 for a small one from the Seychelles.
We spent a small amount of time on the outskirts of Antananaviro (Tana) before heading 200km east to Andasibe/Mandadia national park – where we would spend Christmas with one of the rarest creatures in the world – the Indri lemurs. This blog covers the first two weeks we spent in Madagascar, because we saw so much incredible wildlife in the this time I’ve done a seperate blog which you are look at here.
Trekking in the rainforest
We arrived at our destination where we would spend four nights, our hut was on the side of a hill which faced a wall of rainforest and we straight heard the ‘spirit of the forest’ which is the Indri lemurs remarkable calls. It sounds like whales calling and the territorial calls can be heard from 4km away! They are the largest surviving species of lemur (of which there are about 100 species and sub species) and they only exist in these few small protected nature reserves, and have never been able to be bred successfully in captivitiy.
We spend Christmas day morning trekking in the rainforest and saw some of the most incredible creatures, none more so than this leaf-tailed gekko. To say it was well camouflaged is an understatement, and how our guide managed to spot it in the first place I’ll never know! The first photo below shows the entire body from head to tail, and the second a close up on it’s head, which shows the eye quite clearly.
We got incredible close the to Indri lemurs as they are quite comfortable which human presence, and when they made their usual calls from close quarters it was amazing how loud it was.
Overland tour south
We returned back to the capital to meet the other volunteers joining the diving expedition for an overland tour from the capital Antananarivo down to Toliara which takes us 1000km south. The first part we travelled through the Malagasy highlands which was filled with terraced rice paddies and traditional red brick houses.
We also spent a day trekking in Isalo National Park and visited natural swimming pools, waterfalls, grasslands, sandstone cliffs and canyons. Taking a dip in the fresh cold pools was beautiful and a great way to cool down!
We discovered that not all the Madagascan roads are up to scratch and some of the pothole were more like craters! There was also a collapsed bridge on the only road that heads south, so we waited whilst they built a new one – therefore on day two a 10 hour journey became 20 hour journey and we made it to our hotel at 4am in the morning!
It was all worth it when we got to see King Julian and his friends (the ring-tailed lemur) the next day!
We made it to Toliara after 4 days on the road – it was now 2016 and we were ready for the next phase of our adventure – marine research, our ten week diving expedition with Blue Ventures!