We arrived to the small town of Ranomafana which has some hot springs but the most famous attraction in around the town is the rainforest just outside the villages. The forest is home to the very rare golden bamboo lemur which was discovered as late as 1986. To protect the golden bamboo lemur a national park was created in 1991 to save one of the last habitats of the golden bamboo lemur. The golden bamboo lemur isn’t the only endangered lemur of the forest – the greater bamboo lemur is living in this forest as well. With only about 500 greater bamboo lemurs left in the world it is among the most endangered primates in the world.
We get the tickets to the national park and then start walking inside the park. You are not allowed to walk alone in the national parks of Madagascar so we get a guide and a spotter to find the lemurs. It is a great help to actually have somebody who knows how to spot the animals since we wouldn’t be able to spot most of the animals ourselves.
The park is very humid and surprisingly it is a bit hot walking around the park as well. The humidity ensures the vegetation is very lush and dense so we can have a look at the many flowers and trees. It is actually a bit difficult to see far which isn’t ideal when you try to spot animals living up high in the tree tops.
We go inside the park and just after we cross a bridge over a river we find the first wildlife of the day. It is pretty small and even though the guide point it out it is still difficult to see it. It is a little gecko which looks exactly as a leaf. It isn’t hard to see how it got the name leaf tailed gecko. We see the small gecko and continue inside the park along the trails to try and find the famous lemurs of the park which is the reason people come the long way to the park.
After a bit of a walk up and down inside the park the spotter has finally located the golden bamboo lemur. Unfortunately the lemurs doesn’t want to stay next to the path instead it stays inside the forest away from the path so we have to leave the not so slippery paths and instead walk inside the jungle and walk in there to get closer to the lemurs. You have to walk carefully in here since the ground is wet covered in leaves and roots which are really slippery when you walk around. It is difficult to spot the golden bamboo lemurs at first – we have to walk around inside the jungle to get to a position where we can finally get a fairly clear view of the lemur up in the tree and stays for a while trying to keep up with the lemurs as they are moving around the tree tops.
After we have looked at the golden lemurs for a while it is time to make it carefully back to the path and the safer ground of the trails and we will continue the search for other lemurs. After a while the spotter come back and tells us he has found some great bamboo lemur down along the trail. He must have walked pretty fast and far since it takes us a while walking up the hill to reach the greater lemur. It is actually easy to spot since it is sitting right next to the trail eating bamboo with about 20 tourist taking pictures and video of the small lemur. Apparently it is very hungry since it shows no sign of being bother by all the people – not even when an idiot decide to shove his phone right up in the face of the poor lemur.
Apparently these bamboo lemurs are extremely rare and might be a special subspecies of the greater bamboo lemur. The guide says there are only two groups left inside this park the two we see which is only a father and his daughter – I guess the mother has died. And another group we do not see. They had tried to introduce some of the lemurs from this park with other greater bamboo lemurs but without any success. So when these few lemurs die maybe it is the tragic end of a subspecies of lemurs.
After having stayed with this easy to spot lemur for a while taking photos and video we decide to let it get a little peace. Well us leaving didn’t really give it much peace since there was still a bunch of other tourist when we left – but maybe they would leave in a while as well. We go out and look for more lemurs of other species.
On the way we manage to spot another couple of geckos – well when I say we manage to spot I mean the guide and spotter finds them since they are so well camouflaged – and the chances of me spotting them are less than slim.
Unfortunately it is getting a bit later in the day by now since we have been walking for at least a couple of hours. And lemurs are most active early in the day. So we do manage to spot a couple of more lemurs of two different species. But they are just resting like a curled up ball of fur high up in the trees. So we don’t spend too much time watching them and after a little time we start walking out of the park. We go out of the park and consider taking advantage of the hot spring of the village – but we want lunch first. And after lunch we are just too lazy to go out again and instead we just stay at the hotel enjoying the view from the hill from where we can see the river below.