Kirindy Reserve, Madagascar.

The journey to our first destination of our trip to Madagascar was a long one. We started with the train from Leeds to Manchester, a flight Manchester to Antananarivo with an overnight stay in Paris, a hotel near the airport in the capital and then an internal flight to Morondava in the West of the island. At the airport in Morondava we were met by our first driver who took us on our first bumpy journey about 50km to our hotel near the Kirindy Reserve.

En route we travelled through one of the most iconic areas of Madagascar, the Avenue of the Baobabs. We started seeing these sporadically on the journey before we came to the great congregation of these enormous trees which line the dirt road on either side and are probably the most famous pictured area on the island. The trees are so large so they can store enough water to survive in the arid conditions of the area and can live for up to 500 years. We had time to stop for a couple of photos and then continued towards our accommodation (we would be back here for a longer period later in the trip).

Our hotel was the Relais du Kirindy which had simple rooms but a nice restaurant and pool area with baobab trees in the background. It was extremely remote with barely another building anywhere nearby. As is the case with many hotels in Madagascar, especially in the rural areas, there were power cuts overnight so it is worth having solar chargers and spare battery banks in your luggage if you have multiple electronics to charge up or to try and ensure things are filled during daylight hours.

That evening we were to go on a night hike in the Kirindy Reserve. Our driver dropped us off at a meeting point with all the other tourists visiting the area. Because there were only two of us we were paired up with another couple and given a guide. Before we had even left the parking area we were beckoned over to behind the buildings where there was a fossa (an endemic carnivore that are the villains in the Madagascar film) scavenging food.

We set off following our guides headtorch through the criss cross of pathways within the 100 square kilometre dry, deciduous forest which is privately managed for sustainable logging. We quickly found our first creatures such as chameleons, various birds and a snake that I made sure to stay well away from. We also came across a couple of the different nocturnal lemur species including the grey mouse lemur and the fork-crowned lemur. We unfortunately did not come across a Giant jumping rat which can only be found in this area but we felt we had done well nonetheless. After we came back the parking area we headed back to the hotel for the night.

The following morning we were back at the Kirindy reserve to complete a nature walk in the daytime hours. We had quickly seen a whole number of chameleons before even walking 100m. The daytime animals were now also out of which there were two species and our guide managed to find them both. The Verreaux’s sifakas were hanging in the trees high above us snoozing and snacking. We spent a while watching them although they were not the most animated before the other groups cottoned on to our discovery and all descended upon the area (a practise that happened on many occasions throughout the trip whenever any interesting wildlife was spotted).

We made the most of the other groups distraction and were able to spend about 15 minutes with a family of common brown lemurs with just our guide and the other couple in our group. They were coming down from the trees to forage on the ground. As we stood there taking pictures an enjoying our time with them they appeared very unconcerned by our presence and allowed us to watch them and smile as we caught a glimpse here and there of a baby. They were extremely cute and we felt very lucky to have been able to see them.

We then had to leave to start our journey to our next location on the West of the island, Tsingy Bemaraha National Park.

Have you been to Kirindy Reserve? Did you get to see the Giant jumping rats, fossas or nay other wildlife there?

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