Day 6 – Lemurs and Fossas and Skinks, Oh My!

Madagascar Series

My holiday in Madagascar was an amazing visit to one of the world’s most unique and exciting places. Between its teeming capital city, small coastal villages, brilliant national forests, distinctive wildlife, and open, friendly people, Madagascar gave me so much to appreciate and learn on even a short visit. This series describes my Malagasy holiday from beginning to end. Mankafy! If you are starting in the middle, CLICK HERE to go to the first post.

I made it—I survived my night in the forest! It was actually the best night’s sleep I’ve had all week, go figure—after all that fear! I woke up early to the sounds of lemurs jumping through the trees, and had some more time to sit in my “living room,” aka the porch outside my tent in the middle of the forest. A big gray bird with a blue head ambled by and didn’t even notice me. Then a Madagascar Paradise Fly Catcher kept darting all around, then stopped for a tiny poop hahaha. I guess this is what goes for entertainment without modern distractions! Meanwhile the flies buzzed away, ants kept carting food back and forth, and birds I didn’t know the names of kept darting around. This place was actually pretty great!

One minute on the porch at Camp Amoureux, Kirindy Reserve

The rest of the day’s visit kept being spectacular. We drove from Camp Amoureux to the Kirindy Forest and met a terrific guide called Christian for a daytime walk through the forest. Christian and the other guides lead researchers, students, and tourists through the forest to study and view the local flora and fauna. They also work with local villagers and schoolchildren to show them the value of protecting the forest and its unique treasures—at the same time employing them and providing an alternative income source to destroying the land to raise cattle.

Once we started walking, we saw a group of sportive lemurs up in the trees almost immediately. Christian started rubbing bits of banana onto the tree branches around us which, based on the night before, I thought was wishful thinking. But then they started coming down! It was a mom carrying the baby on her back and another one on its own. Next thing I know, more lemurs I hadn’t even noticed before started coming out of the woodwork—literally! Five or six from the group soon surrounded us, and they weren’t at all shy about coming close to get the fruit. It was pretty awesome!

brown lemurs at our feet
Sportive lemurs jonesing for some banana

Then we carried on to look for some more animals. I really wanted to see fossa and more lemurs and Christian was on it. Unfortunately (or very, very fortunately!) the giant jumping rats only come out at night, so I wouldn’t be able to see any. We walked and walked and walked through the forest—I don’t know how Christian wasn’t lost. Soon it grew very dense, going up and down inclines, with branches and such going every which way across the paths. We saw several lizards and endemic birds, and a skink, which looked like a cross between a snake and a lizard. But alas no further mammals and we were soon back at the main camp. I was a bit disappointed not to see more, but hey, that’s nature, right?

Well next thing I knew Christian had noticed some fossa hiding under one of the resident buildings and we ran over to have a look. Those are some creepy looking things! Kind of a cat’s face and body but from behind they look like dogs. Fierce, and ALL MUSCLE. The pair of them kept trying to escape us but we followed closely for some pictures and videos. It was so fun being on the chase!

Chasing fossas in the forest

Christian also learned some Sifaka lemurs (the white ones — Zoboomafoo!!) were in the forest about 2km away. So we got in the car for a bit more hunting, and found them pretty quickly. They were wearing scientific collars undoubtedly with some sort of tracker in I’d guess. But it was still really cool, and they were really cute, but much more shy and less inclined to come down from the trees and say hi. But overall I got so lucky with all of the things I got to see!

3 white Sifaka lemurs hiding up in the trees
3 white Sifaka lemurs hiding up in the trees

After that we drove back to Morondava and back to the Hotel Palissandre Côte Ouest. And I have to say, after the last few nights this place is absolutely palatial. Tiny lizard in the bathroom? No problem! Not anymore at least. My how I’ve grown.

Lizard sunbathing on a rock
For more in the series...
Day 1 – Arrival Into Antananarivo Day 2 – Morondava & Baobab Alley Sunset Day 3 – Long Drive to Bekopaka Day 4 – The Grand Tsingy Day 5 – The Malagasy Forest Day 6 – Lemurs and Fossas and Skinks, Oh My! Day 7 – Betania Village Day 8 – Ambohimanga And A Hectic Farewell