One of the best reasons to visit Madagascar is to go and experience the amazing lemurs. The small animal is found only on this big island and there are many different species spread across the island. No matter where you go you will have the option to search for lemurs as long you have a minimum of a day to go and look for them.
The most common of the lemurs are the ring tailed lemur. We had the pleasure to experience these wonderful creatures at Reserve d’Anja which is on the RN7 leading to the south of Madagascar. If you go here you are pretty certain to spot the lemurs no matter what time of the day you visit. The best time to visit is fairly early in the morning best before 9 if you visit in July. At this time the lemurs will come down to the water and jump around – later in the day the lemurs will retreat up in the trees were you will still be able to spot them. I have been told the lemurs come down to the water again in the afternoon – but I am not sure what time.
Another good place to spot the ring tailed lemur is in Parc National d’Isola which is further to the south on RN7. This national park is a good place to spot lemurs – but it isn’t actually the main attraction of the park which is has some good hiking opportunities as well with some stunning canyon landscape.
A short detour from RN7 will lead you to Ramanofane where you find the rare golden bamboo lemur. The lemur is found in a national park of the same name. the park is a rainforest park which mean the climate is different from the rest of southern and central Madagascar – inside this park the humidity is close to hundred and it is pretty hilly so a walk in the forest here will make you sweat for sure – but the sweating is most likely rewarded by you spotting several different lemurs in addition to the golden bamboo lemur.
One of the lemurs we spotted in this park was the greater bamboo lemur. Apparently this lemur is very rare in the park and in general. There are only two groups of this species of lemur in the park and we spotted a farther daughter which is the only members of one of the two groups.
In the western part of Madagascar a bit north of the famous Avenue de Baobab you find the Reserve Forestiere de Kirindy. Inside this park you can spot up to 8 different lemurs. We manage to spot several of these species both during the day and the night. The main attraction during the day is the verreaux sifaka and he red-fronted brown lemur. We were fortunate to see both and the brown sifaka came surprisingly close and were very entertaining. During a night walk you will be able to spot some of the smallest lemurs including the smallest primate in the world. Fortunately we had a good guide who managed to spot these for us since there is no way we would have been able to spot them on our own. The Kirindy reserve is also one of the only places you are likely to spot the fossa which is the most famous lemur hunter on Madagascar. It is hanging out at the headquarter of the park and if you spend some time here you have a good chance to spot the fossa.
In the north western part of Madagascar you find another good park to spot some lemurs. In Parc National d’Ankarafantsika you are likely to spot some lemurs. The easiest to spot is probably the coquerel sifaka which we spotted on a couple of occasions up high in the trees. This park is also the one of the few places you are likely to be able to spot the mongoose lemur in the wild and we had the good fortune to see it high in the trees. There were also some brown lemurs in the park. If you visit the outskirts of the park after dark you are highly likely to spot some of the small mouse lemurs in the trees of the area. The park is worth a visit – but it is a day’s drive from the capital and pretty far from most other attractions so you do have to consider if this trip is worth it. I can be combined with trips around the northern part of Madagascar going to or from the capital.
The north of Madagascar is home to Nosy Be which is the main beach destination of the whole country of Madagascar. Even if you only go here for a beach holiday you will still have the option to go and see some lemurs for a day if you need a break from the beach. The Reserve Naturelle Integrale de Lokobe is home to the black lemur – and if you go here for a day you have a very good chance to see these wonderful creatures on the island.
If you travel a few hours to the east of the capital Antananarivo you will reach the area around Andasibi where you will find several parks. This is one of the best places to spot the biggest of the lemurs the indri. If you want to enjoy the indri singing you need to go early in the day which is just possible if you leave around 6 in the morning from the capital. So to enjoy the famous song of the indri you probably should spend at least a night in Andasibi area. We spend a few nights here and visited a couple of parks the Reserve Speciale d’Analamazaotra is the biggest park where you should be able to spot the indri. You will also have the chance to spot the diademed sifaka which is almost as big as the indri and is possibly the most beautiful of all the lemurs you can find in Madagascar. another park in the area is the Parc Mitsinjo where you are also almost certain to spot the indri – the park is cheaper to visit than the national park next door – so if you are ready to give up on the diademed sifaka and only focus on the indri this is probably a better option. You might also be able to spot the indri from your hotel if you stay at Feon’ny Ala where we stayed on two different occasions and managed to see the indris from the garden of the hotel on both occasions.
The most unique of the lemurs is probably the nocturnal aye-aye lemur which is possible to see in the far eastern part of the country. We went to spot these lemurs on a trip from the Palmarium Reserve which is a hotel with a special island where they have some aye-aye living more or less in the wild. It was a little of a zoo feeling but then again the aye-aye is a very special lemur to see so I guess a compromise is needed to see this alien like lemur.
If you only have a very short time in Madagascar and only stay in the capital you will still have the option to visit a decent zoo a bit outside the capital where they have a number of different lemur species. The lemur in this park is treated like semi wild lemur which is different compared to many other zoos in Madagascar where the lemurs are taught to jump on the shoulders and heads of the tourist. Hence if you do want to go to a zoo instead of going to the see the lemurs in the wild this park is actually a decent option.