Thursday, October 17, 2019

Madagascar Day 13 - Anja

Today was going to be another travel day but we would be making two stops one of which would be at the Anja Community Reserve.

We left Ranomafana around 7AM and made the 1st stop 3 hours later.  The stop was at a silk making shop in a small town along the RN7.  It was interesting to learn about how they made the silk fabrics but this stop really wasn't that exciting for us so we were happy to move on especially because there were a couple bus loads of tourists there already.

I tried my hand at some photos from the van again with varying degrees of success.  At one point, we encountered multiple large herds of zebus that pretty much took over the road:

Zebu Jam


Bruno said they were being walked all the way to market in Tana on a journey that takes weeks.  Luckily, the people don't walk the whole way.  They change constantly but the zebu obviously have to make the whole journey.

Another observation about the Malagasy is that the women have perfect posture.  They carry everything on their heads no matter how large or heavy.  That is a skill that must take a long time to master.  I never got a decent photo of this so when we encountered some young girls taking items to market I tried some action shots from the car.

Perfect balance

The area approaching Anja is quite picturesque:


The Anja Community Reserve is 30 hectares of protected land and forests that was formed in 2001.  It was established mainly to protect the iconic ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta).  This is one of the few remaining strongholds of the ring-tailed lemur in Madagascar and is likely the best place to see them.

Our local guide assured me that they do not feed the ring-tail lemurs but they did seem semi-habituated to people which was likely because the park has so many visitors.

Anja Community Reserve

It didn't take us long to find a troop of ring-tailed lemurs hanging out in some trees:
Ring-tailed Lemurs

Look at that tail!
Ring-tailed Lemur

There were even a few babies:

Baby Ringtail

The park is home to a lot of reptiles as well.

Oustalet's Chameleon:
Oustalet's Chameleon

Our guide walked right past this one but I spotted it even though it blended in so well:
Oustalet's Chameleon

Oustalet's Chameleon

Female Oustalet's:
Female Oustalet's

Western Girdled Lizard (Zonosaurus laticaudatus):
Western Girdled Lizard

The scenery of the park is pretty spectacular with lots of rocks and small areas of trees.  It was obvious that we were in the dry part of Madagascar now.
Anja Hike

At one point, we were told that there was a snake nearby and when we went to see it 3 of the workers had corralled it with sticks to head off its attempts at escape.  I didn't really like that level of harassment so I took a quick picture so that we could later ID it (It was a species of Madagascar Cat-eyed Snake - Madagascarophis ?) and asked that they let it go, which they did.

After hiking a bit of a loop trail it was time to head back to the entrance for lunch.  But, on the way we encountered a troop of ring-tailed lemurs that had come down to the ground to eat.  They put on quite a nice show which was a highlight of the trip for us:
Ringtail with Twins

Profiles of Ringtail

Piggy Back

Ringtail and Baby

Ringtail and Baby

I think this little guy was surprised to see us:

I think we caught this one in the act of something:
Ring-tailed Lemur

Once they all got some water they had to "move it, move it" back into the trees so we watched a few with youngsters aboard as they walked away towards the forest.


Here's a final look at the reserve:

We only hiked at Anja for about an hour and a half, but we really enjoyed it.  It wasn't overly touristy or crowded and the views of the ring-tailed lemurs were fantastic.  We had lunch at a small restaurant there which was good but the views were better.  We had both a dog and cat under our table.  Both begged a little bit for food but we didn't give them any and they both curled up to sleep the heat away.

Most of the afternoon was spent driving to our lodge Le Jardin du Roy which is located near Isalo National Park.

Along the way we encountered some nice scenery:
Madagascar Scenery

But, we also encountered a lot of scorched earth where fires had recently burned:
Scorched Land

As we were driving along, we hit an extra large bump which caused a big bang on the roof.  Dida and Bruno got out to inspect and realized that the luggage rack had broken:
When the roof rack broke...

They tried a quick fix but after another mile we all realized that it wouldn't hold. So, all the bags came down off the roof and into the van.  It actually wasn't too crowded and was better than seeing our unmentionables scattered across the highway.

Le Jardin du Roy is a very picturesque lodge set amount the rocks and when we arrived around 5PM the light was perfect:
Jardin du Roy Lodge

Jardin du Roy forest

They also have some very cool plants in their landscaping:

Cool plant

Our room was quite nice although it was weird to have the toilet on one side of the room and the bathroom on the other so that we had to walk all the way around the bed to wash our hands:

Jardin du Roy room

In my mind, I was thinking that this should be a good place for lizards and not 5 minutes after we first left our room I spotted this one.

Dumeril's Madagascar Swift (Oplurus quadrimaculatus):
Dumeril's Madagascar Swift

Le Jardin Du Roy was definitely the most upscale lodge of the trip and their prices followed suit.  For instance, they served smaller beer for high prices than anywhere else.  But, that didn't stop me from drinking my share of course.

After a nice dinner (the food was quite good at all meals), we decided to walk the grounds a little bit to see if we could find any critters.  But, there was nothing to be seen so after about an hour we turned in for the night.

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