Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Madagascar: Kirindy National Forest

My friends and I settled into our dwellings in Kirindy National Forest.  We were staying at what seemed like a research camp.  We heard English and German being spoken and asked our guide if they did research there.  He confirmed our suspicions.  He also told us to get ready for our first nature walk into the forest.  Excitedly, I strapped on my photo "utility" belt.  It allows me to carry a couple lenses without having to have a bulky pack.  We were venturing into an area that was teeming with chameleons and lemurs and we were pretty much skipping to the trail head.  Within the first half hour our guide showed us what we were waiting for.... LEMURS!!  We had stumbled into a family group of Red Fronted Lemurs.  After hanging out with them for awhile, we continued on the trail where we came across a mongoose, a White Sifaka (another type of lemur), and a lemur that people usually only see at night, a Red Sportive.  He had burrowed himself into a hole in a tree and had poked his face out when he heard us go by.  

Later in the evening, we took our second nature walk, this time in darkness.  Armed with my tripod and a headlamp, we wandered into the forest listening to the strange sounds coming from the blackness.  I felt in another world as the alien lemur noises echoed all around us.  Thanks to our phenomenal guide, we were able to see a Grey Mouse Lemur, one of the smallest primates on the planet (the littlest lemur in the movie Madagascar, I didn't get a picture of this guy).  We also spotted a fat tail lemur, which stores fat in its tail, as well as another red sportive lemur.  All of these were great, and it was fantastic to see them, but for me, the greatest part of the night came when we spotted THE CHAMELEON.  Our guide had shown us some other chameleons along the way, but even he stopped in delight when he realized what he had found.  The chameleon was no bigger than my pinkie finger when his tail was all stretched out (they relax their tails when they are sleeping).  He was so tiny!  Our guide told us that theses chameleons were very rare, that maybe you see them three times a year if you are lucky, and that he personally had always wanted to see one but this was his first time.  I was thrilled.  

On the way back to Morondava the next day, our trusted vehicle got a flat tire on the Allée des Baobabs.  We enjoyed the shade under a ginormous baobab before joining the driver in pushing our vehicle to start it.  We passed by a zebu market not far out of Morondava.  People gather every week to sell their zebus at the market.  One boy was soaping up his zebu in a stream, getting him all beautiful for the market sales.  It was a great site to finish up what had been an amazing couple of days.  

Aragog's lair

Anne-Marie swinging on a vine

Tiny Chameleon

Ebony Tree

Red Fronted Brown Lemur

Hiding Red Sportive Lemur

White Sifaka

our camp


Baobab panoramic.  This tree was so large, I took four images to get this one of it top to bottom

Zebu Market

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