Previous parts of Madagascar serial:
I love Madagascar, although I must confess that it was not immediately. Some people need more time and I know even those who weren’t enthusiastic. They had big and then only partially fulfilled expectations. Long transport on local roads are also not for everyone. But the day in Analamazoatra (part of Andasibe-Mantadia National Park) is the day when even those few happy can love Madagascar!
We started the morning walk through the Analamazoatra rainforest.
Our object was to find Madagascar’s largest lemur and, of course, because lemurs do not live elsewhere, even the largest lemur of this world – the indri. It is a black and white and 10kg weighing primate with a very small tail.
After a few minutes we could hear a little sad noise of this lemur. The forest had a totally different atmosphere then.
Audio recording of indri´s family:
We found this family of the largest lemur high in the trees. We knew we would not take the best photos. The local guide tried to make the noise like the indri. The family stayed up but it was ok. They were there and right above us.
We were lucky on the island. We have seen cattas, sifakas, the fossa, of course, several chameleons (who does not know, so look the previous parts) and now the indri.
I’d want to find the small big-eyed lemurs, the aye-aye with a long finger (also a kind of lemur) and the gecko that you don’t see, even if local guides show you it before your nose.
The last named one decided to surprise us in the end of the walk through the Analamazoatra forest. You really would not find it easy. The master of camouflage, gecko uroplatus:
We went to the Vakôna Reserve in the afternoon, where they have lemurs that were like pets or on the way to become pets. People try to prepare them for a return to nature there but I think that it is not impossible for many of them.
Even the biggest heiters and unfortunates always stop hates in the Vakôna. Several of cute, shaggy brown lemurs jump on your head and shoulders and if it doesn´t sleep, the little bigger black-and-white lemurs jump too.
The black-and-white lemur. If you don´t see the different with the indri, for example, look on the tail. Indri has a small one.
You can meet small bamboo lemurs there, but they’re pretty shy. They don´t jump on you but if you will feed them with one hand, you can caress them with the second hand. (Or do nothing and just look.)
If you want that cattas jump on your head (who did not read the previous parts, that’s the kind like king Julien from Madagascar cartoon), you have to ask about it the local guides there. It’s something special. They’re on another island. The surcharge for that they take you with kayaks to the catta island is 15 000 ariars, so +- 5 €.
Of course, I had to take some selfie:
Otherwise, do you know that females dominate in the lemur world? Famels have the main word in the group. I think that local people don’t have a problem with it too because the last three rulers of Kingdom of Madagascar (it’s called the Merina Kingdom), before the French domination, were also women!
Ticket price is 25 000 ariary (I’m reminded the course: € 1 = about 3,500 ariars) and you can visit not just the Vakôna lemur world (of course, without the catta island, that’s something extra) but also a nearby crocodile farm! It is inclunding in the ticket.
40 Nile crocodiles and other animals, for example, chameleons or the fossa – the largest mammal predator of the island, are waiting for you there. (You know how I mean it.) This fossa is a little different than the one we saw near Morondava.
It is brown and smaller. It looks more like the fossas from Madagascar cartoon. →
They have the same kind of crocodile in Madagascar as we can find on the mainland of Africa – the Nile crocodile that weighs several hundred kilograms. I´m sure that it is the most dangerous animal in Madagascar. Several kilos weighing fossa really can’t face it.
Cute lemurs on your heads and dozens of bloodthirsty crocodiles. So do you understand why people like this day? Personal contact with little cute babbles (I mean those lemurs, not those crocodiles) can give you a huge dose of energy and a feeling of happiness. 🙂
We returned to the capital city Antananarivo next day. It was the last bigger move for these people. They really looked that they have enough of travel.
We visited the Queen’s Palace in the morning, where, logically, the queens of Madagascar lived.
The palace should have been on the UNESCO World Heritage List, but someone burned it, allegedly due to political causes, in 1995. It is why this historical building is not on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The fire made tremendous damage and the area really doesn’t look same like before also after a few reconstructions.
One of the most beautiful views in the capital city is right from there:
Opposite the palace is the former seat of the prime ministers who were also husbands of those queens. Well, they did not have them far. This building is a museum now.
You can also find a memorial in the courtyard of the Queen’s Palace, where is the name of the ruler „Radama I.“ He was the son of the great King of Madagascar (the Merina Kingdom) – Adrianampoinimerina. Radama I invited European missionaries to the island to build schools and education. The book symbolizes the moment. Below are names of the people who translated the Bible into the local language (Malagasy language).
The group didn´t wanted to visit Ambohimanga, fortified royal residence, which has also a strong spiritual significance and it is older place than the Queen’s Palace. It was the seat of the first great kings, even it is on the UNESCO list (no one burned it). They wanted to sleep well before leaving to home. They did not care much about history of Madagascar. Maybe others will be more curious.
Ambohimanga, the residence of kings, which has also spiritual significance for Malagasy people. The UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Ambohimanga is very close from Antananarivo, but you need longer time because of full and blocked streets of the capital city.
The last point of the tour was in the local market in the capital city, which is a truly memorable experience. You can see plenty of fruits, meat, walking crabs, vibration fishes on the tables, chickens upside down… You can also visit a interesting street food street, where everybody looked on us (many white people are not in the market). Many shoes and clothing are an inherent part of this market too. This place has a really unforgettable atmosphere that you must taste there.
But be careful there! I do not recommend walking with any chains, watches or gold earrings in the city. Probably the greatest chance that some poor man will want to rob you is in the market. So go without expensive things.
I was looking for quality vanilla with people. Madagascar is the world’s largest exporter of vanilla!
You can tell anyone on the street, also a seller of textiles, that you are looking for vanilla. You will have several sellers of vanilla around you within a few seconds. Then you must choose the most beautiful and the most exciting vanilla (beware, somebody can prepare a wrapping with vanilla smell but it will be not smell of the vanilla). Other step, you must negotiate the price down, at least 40% of the seller’s suggested price.
We’ve tasted the best hamburger on the whole island at the end that I know. You can find it in the nice railway station of Antananarivo. Of course, the meat in the hamburger is from a hunchbacked cow zebu.
We taked people from hotel last night and went to the airport of Antananarivo. I stayed in Antananarivo other a few days because I waited for a new group. The next tour on the largest African island and on the fourth largest island in the world could start again.
Photos & text
František Fefe Kekely
To be continued…
We will spend the night in the rainforest in the next part. You will can enjoy other face of local amazing nature. I will say you something about 40-tons weighting whales that jump up in the air near Madagascar and also what dangerous to try on this island.