We had a long drive yesterday – and despite this long drive we had seen any forest all day – only a few scattered trees here and there. And we arrive up at this little village after dark so we didn’t really see any forest when we came either. All the forest in the area has been cut down for either firewood or cleared for agricultural land.
Fortunately this little piece of forest is now protected as a national park so hopefully the trees will survive so the wildlife of this part of the country at least has a last refuge. We didn’t stay at the national park – since they didn’t pick up the phone when we tried to make a reservation – we stayed in a little resort five kilometers down the road. It turned out there would be plenty of space in the national park but we didn’t want to take the change last night since we arrived pretty late and needed a place to stay.
When we arrive at the national park we quickly meet up with a guide and decide what to do. It is a good time to spot the lemurs of the national park so we walk inside the park. We spot a mongoose lemur quickly. It is the first time we seen the mongoose lemurs in the wild so we stay for a while trying to get some photos of them. It is a bit difficult since they have places themselves in a way which makes it very difficult with the lighting and leaves from the trees they are sitting in. But after many tries we do succeed in getting a couple of good photos.
We continue the walk through the forest passing a view point to have a bit of an overview of the area – it is called the best view point of the forest – it is nice but we are not really blown away. After the view we get down to a little lake where a couple of brown lemurs are hanging around a tree which apparently has some delicious fruit they come to eat. We watch the lemurs for a while and then we walk back to the entrance to the park.
On the way out the park we are fortune enough to see some sifakas – but they are sitting high in the trees and are not that active – maybe we arrived a little too early in the day and they were not ready to perform for us.
Here we need to get the driver to take us to a little canyon – you could actually hike there if you walked about 4 kilometers through the forest and open land and then another 5 kilometers across somewhat boring open land after you see the canyon. But we got a car and maybe we are a bit lazy so we want to drive. But the car isn’t there. The driver has for some reason gone away. The guide tells us he had seen him drive away and think he knows where he has gone – so he need to catch a local bus to go to the village and search for the driver. The guide is lucky and a fried with a motorbike shows up so he catches a quick ride to the village.
After a while he comes back inside the car with the driver – apparently the driver had forgotten to get breakfast and had gone to the village to eat instead of waiting for us. The local staff at the entrance tells us we should probably have a friendly talk with our young driver to let him know he can’t just drive away like this so he knows this for another time. We do this quickly though we are not sure if he really understands since his English is somewhat limited. And then it is off to the canyon which is small but very pretty. It is carved by a seasonal river which you will have to imagine since there isn’t a drop of water today.
When we drive out from the canyon we pass some other guest who has been hiking through the forest to the canyon and now they are doing the long hike across the open country. the hike through the forest might have been ok – but this hike across the open land with nothing to see and a midday sun burning down from a clear sky really doesn’t look very appealing.
We easily beat the other guest in making it back to the headquarter of the national park and want to have lunch in a little while – but before we eat lunch we have a quick look around the trees of the area. And right here at the parking area of the park is a group of sifakas jumping around in the top of the trees. It is quite nice to spot them this easily – we didn’t realize you could actually find the lemurs without going inside the national park – you just had to stay at the bungalow of the park. Too bad they didn’t pick up the phone when we tried to call.