Searching for the biggest of the lemurs

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We flew back to Tana to go visit the eastern part of Madagascar. The first stop is only three hours’ drive away from the capital. Out here are a couple of parks inside the last bit of the rain forest of the eastern part of the island. The national park here is home to the indri indri which is the largest lemur still alive. It might be the biggest lemur alive but it is still tiny compared to the largest lemur which has ever lived – those giants were apparently about the same size as a gorilla compared to this the indri is tiny with only about 10 kilos.

We have seen a lot of lemurs already including the smallest lemur alive – so can we really visit Madagascar without seeing the biggest lemur? Off course not. So we go inside the park today.
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We just walk from the park office and into the park and we hear the lemurs in the distance – the indri is the not only the biggest lemur – it is also the one with the loudest song of any of the lemurs. Apparently you can hear the indri song 3 kilometers away so I guess the fact we hear the indri isn’t an indication of the indri being right next to us. Contrary to the indri which isn’t at the entrance to the park we immediately spot some grey lemurs high in the trees next to the entrance of the park. We see them quickly and then walk into the park. I guess we figured when it was so easy to spot the grey lemurs right here we would easily see more later – but these were in fact the only grey lemurs we would see during this visit to the park.

We walk into the park and we are not alone – in fact this park is probably the most visited of all the national parks we have been to around Madagascar. I guess the easy access from Tana is the reason so many tourist make it out to this park compared to the other parks where you will either need a domestic flight or minimum a full day drive to and from Tana.
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We walk into the park and the guide goes off the trail to spot something. After a while he comes back and tells us he has found what he was looking for – on a tree sit a leaftailed gecko. If the guide hadn’t pointed it out we would never have seen it – in fact it was a bit difficult to spot it even when he was point at the gecko. I guess one of the advantages of so many guides going into the park is they share information about where they spot these geckos on the trees.
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After taking photos of the gecko we continue the walk into the park. After a while we spot a big lemur. It isn’t the indri – but it is diademed sifaka which is the second largest of the lemurs. Some claim it is the most beautiful of all the lemurs and I tend to agree – it is indeed very pretty. The lemurs are pretty active jumping around in the trees above us for quite a while. We enjoy watching the sifakas along with a lot of other guest who have spotted the group of sifakas as well. The diademed sifakas are fun to watch as they jump around and for me this actually turns out to be the highlight of the day visit to the park.

But we are not ready to go out yet – we still need to go out there and spot the indri. After all the indri is the reason we made the stop to this park. It takes a while but then we spot the indri high in the mountains. Some claim the indri looks like a 4 year old kid stuffed into a panda costume – and after seeing the indri I tend to agree with this description. Then indri does look a bit like a small panda.

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After watching the indri for a while we walk back out of the park and head back to our hotel to have lunch and just relax in the afternoon.


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