Playing with Lemurs (Andasibe)

            Having a few days to spend before my national VAC (Volunteer Advisory Committee) meeting I decided to go visit Andasibe, a small town to the east of Tana that is the home of the Indri, the largest lemur in Madagascar.  So leaving shortly after lunch on Monday I broussed from Tana to Andasibe and then walked the one kilometer to the hotel I would be staying in.  The town itself, like many small Malagasy towns, does not have much to offer but also does not have that touristy feel like you would expect with so many tourist coming through it.  The town is surrounded by rainforest that is made up of the national forest and a few smaller NGO protectorates.  It was on the edge of the national forest that my hotel was
located, giving me an incredible view from my room, as well as allowing me to hear the call of the Indri every morning. 
            Waking up to a light rain the next morning we decided not to take the hike through the rainforest that we had planned but to just hangout and wait till the afternoon for our trip to Vokona Lodge.  So shortly after lunch we began our walk to Vokona Lodge not knowing exactly how far it really was; it turned out to be really far.  After walking for what seemed like forever we began to hail cars that were passing us, presumably going to the same destination.  Finally, not to far from the lodge, an awesome Swiss family stopped and gave us a ride there and back into town afterwards and allowed us to tour with them (a huge thanks again if you happen to be reading this!!!).  Vokona lodge has two attractions, a lemur island and a crocodile park, both of which are included in the ticket price.  After purchasing our tickets we first went to the crocodile park, which I was surprised to find out had much more than just crocodiles.  The tour of the park started with a walk around lake that was inhabited with many crocodiles.  It being winter here in Madagascar, most of the crocodiles were just laying around trying to stay warm.  After this we saw a few turtles and lemurs that were in cages, as well as a foosa!!!  The foosa can be compared to a weasel that is two foot long.  They only live in Madagascar and are very hard to see in the wild, so getting to see one up close, although caged, was a really cool experience.  From here we also saw some chameleons, birds, and a boa constrictor (a snake not being all to thrilling for me to see).  We then made our way to the lemur island, which was AWESOME!!!  Taking a small canoe over, we were immediately greeted by a handful of lemurs.  On the island there are shifakas, brown lemurs, and small bamboo lemurs, though the brown lemurs are the only ones that interact with people; the others coming curiously close but are to shy to interact.  The brown lemurs jump on your shoulders and climb around on you then jump to someone else.  It was awesome to get to play with them.  Dream come true…check!!! 
            The next morning we woke up and made our way to the national park were we took the short two hour tour through the rainforest and saw many different types of lemurs, including the Indri.  The national park in Andasibe is by far the best park that I have been to so far. The guides here speak fairly good English and are the best guides in the country, so I am told.  The main trails through the forest are also very well maintained and are paved with stone, although you do spend a lot of your time off the main trail following lemur calls.  After finishing our hike we returned to hotel, grabbed our packs, and started our way back to Tana.  After paying 20,000 Ariary to get Andasibe by brousse we learned that there was a much cheaper way of doing it.  So on our return trip we hopped on a Taxibe, essentially a brusse that makes multiple stops like a city bus, to Moramanga then caught a brusse the rest of the way to Tana; in total, costing us only 6,000 Ariary.  




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