Madagascan karma chameleons, geckos, tomato frogs, and more…

NB: with this post about the place I visited before the lockdown I want to bring you some positivism, beauty and the reassurance that we will all get a chance to see great different places again. Meanwhile I encourage you not to violate the stay-at-home regime. Instead I hope you’re using this time for catching up on what you never seemed to find the time to do… ‘before’ :).

Woah my gosh! Finally – our January 2020 African holiday-expedition (Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Madagascar) was coming to and end. Boo!

Our final African port of call – central Madagascar. Hurray! For they say it’s full of lemurs, chameleons, geckos, frogs (and also mosquitoes)…

I’ll start with the lemurs. Delightful little animals. Rather daft too! They react positively to… bananas. And negatively to… their tails being pulled (not that we put this to the test!). They seem totally uninterested in humans – unless they have bananas!

Next – chameleons. These gorgeous creatures are on a constant go-slow, and are almost insolently indifferent to humans – more so than lemurs by far. The go-slow suddenly turns into pretty-darn-speedy if – and, again, we didn’t try this, but I heard rumors – they are pestered by something bigger than them or poisonous or in some other way dangerous. Indeed, if they do get spooked off they shoot into the nearest bushes and you won’t see them again for ages…

To check out all the exotic wildlife of this region three days are sufficient. The driving involved takes you some 170km along Badagascan roads, but as they’re so bad this will take you some four or five hours.

The first stop is at Vakona Lemur Island. And it sure does live up to its name. They basically set up a ‘camp’ with the perfect conditions for lemurs – and tourists: they dug out canals to make islands so that tourists can see them easily. I asked about whether they could swim. The answer came ‘yes’, but they really don’t like to. Still, they’re perfectly capable of crossing the canals up above them – from treetop to treetop.

And here they are ->

The tourists get into canoes, and have a paddle along the canals of this Lemurs’ Venice!

Curiosity didn’t kill the lemur; they look like they’d kill for a banana though ).

This lemur is a diademed sifaka. Strike a pose, there’s nothing to it! ->

Meanwhile, the lemurs on the island opposite demand that we turn our attention to them! We oblige…

These are ring-tailed lemurs (aka King Julien!). and they don’t stretch their tails up like that for nothing; they do it to indicate their position in the social hierarchy!

So long as you’re carrying… bananas, that is, the lemurs are your bestest friends. They even get up onto your shoulder and stroke your head… for a banana ).

Here’s a different kind – night lemurs, or something like that ->

Amazing place. But if ever you plan on coming here, don’t forget that in January they close the lemur islands to give the lemurs a break. We were the last visiting tourists of the season – they stayed open a bit longer specially for us.

As per tradition – a few photographic masterpieces from our in-house super-snapper, DZ:

Next up for us – the Analamazotra Special Reserve (sounds like an expensive brandy!). It wasn’t too special for us though. We’d been spoiled rotten in the previous lemur park; this one was a bit of a come-down – especially since the lemurs here weren’t tamed in any way or friendly to tourists – they mostly stay up in the treetops and you only get brief glimpses of them:

Only DZ got a good close look at them, and only DZ got a good close-up pic of them with his telephoto lens. First – sifaka:


Next, nearby, an orchid park. Alas, they only flower up to November. We saw just one still with petals!

But next to it – a photogenic chameleon, who wasn’t against us snapping away one bit!

One more place we checked out – Peyrieras Reptile Reserve. Basically a zoo with all sorts of exotic creatures: chameleons, geckoes, bats, snakes, frogs, crocodiles and much more besides!

Check out these jaw-droppingly awesome miracles of creation ->

This one – surely it was the inspiration for Admiral Ackbar? Or is it just me?

Camouflaged chameleon!

A Madagascar tomato frog!

More camouflaging – by the geckoes:

The rest of the pics from Madagascar are here.

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