leaping_lemurs: (Glee by the_reverand)
[personal profile] leaping_lemurs
I think this post is going to rival or even beat my Lemur Island post in the number of pictures it contains.

Up at the crack of dawn, pastry in the room, and then on the road for the 10-minute drive to the Tana airport. The flight was pretty much on time, so we were here in Fort Dauphin before 8:00.

Our itinerary had gotten rearranged courtesy of the family that owns Berenty (the big lemur reserve here in the south), the hotel we’re staying at in town and a huge portion of the rest of the city (population 70,000). We were supposed to be staying in Berenty tonight so we could do an early morning walk tomorrow, when the lemurs are at their most active, then spend tomorrow night in the city so we could sleep ‘til a reasonable hour – since Berenty is 3 hours away by what’s apparently a real wreck of a road – before flying back to Tana for the remains of our last day. Instead we’re doing it in reverse, which sort of sucks, because we’ll have to be up at 4:30 for our morning walk in order to get going and make our flight to Tana. On the plus side, with luck we’ll be so exhausted by our 9:45 PM departure for Paris and our connection home that we might actually sleep on the flight. Anyway...

It’s been a crazy kind of day. We’re in our 3rd room. The first was actually a suite but close to the road, and Terry was afraid she wouldn’t be able to sleep. Our second had plumbing problems. Our 3rd seems to be the charm. Which makes me think we should have tried for a 3rd round of zebu steaks at dinner, because the first 2 were pretty much inedible, they were so tough, though I managed a bit of mine, because I needed protein. Also, the power went out in our part of the hotel while we were resting up before dinner, though it came back on while we were eating.

If all that was the ridiculous, though, there was also plenty of the sublime. There’s another lemur reserve, Nampoina (though it has a similar but different name, too, which is on the posters at the airport), just outside town, but the family that owns Berenty doesn’t want anyone to go there, because it competes with them (and is a lot easier to get to), so none of their agency’s drivers – and our local arrangements are through their agency, because they’re pretty much the only game in town – are allowed to take people there. Cray. Zee. It’s so silly that while we were in the lobby here we had to discuss “going to that place we talked about,” I kid you not.

So we walked down to the main road and flagged a taxi, who agreed to take us, wait for us, then bring us back, all for 40,000 ariary, or about $20. On the way, we drove (mostly on bad but bustling dirt roads) past the bay and across the perfectly paved road being put in for the black sand mining (to extract titanium), which most of the locals are against because the South African company is bringing in South Africans for all the best jobs, plus many people are being forced off their land. The area is very green and lush, with craggy black granite mountains to one side, and seems quite prosperous, with a lot of big houses and businesses springing up around the mine, as well as all the tourist businesses to serve the people coming to Berenty. (There are also big billboards telling people to use condoms, something I haven’t seen anywhere else. I guess those miners and construction workers get rowdy of a Saturday night.)

When we arrived, our driver went to hang out in a shady brick gazebo with all the other drivers, and we walked up a long shaded drive, accompanied by Frederic, who would be our guide. We saw Nile crocs, radiated tortoises


and a large chameleon (eating a large cricket),


and ended with a boat ride along the river,


where we saw another malachite kingfisher


and I quite predictably took a lot of pictures. In between, though, came the lemurs.

But first, some boys and a zebu, who we saw on our way to the river:


Some palms:




And a woman carrying the catch of the day:


Verreaux’s sifaka are the famous “dancing” lemurs. They’re graceful and agile in the trees, but do this ungainly and yet somehow enchanting “dance” when crossing open ground. I got pictures, but none full-face, so I’ll try again in Berenty. And their faces really are delightful and expressive, and I really don’t think that’s just anthropomorphizing on my part.

Getting ready to leap down and dance:


The leap:


The dance:








Another dancer:




Frederic and one of the sifakas:


More, more, more. (I can't resist them!)



I finally caught an entire lemur leaping, not just its butt!








I don't know why he was licking the branch.






More lemurs coming up in Part 2.
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