Monday, October 14, 2019

Madagascar Day 16 - Ifaty to Tana

I was up really early today thanks to the poor night's sleep so I wandered around the grounds as soon as the sun came up but only saw a few of the very common birds and nothing else.  I did see quite a few hermit crab tracks though so there was obviously more than one wandering around last night.

Before heading to the airport today we had a stop at the spiny forest.  I though this would be an actual large forest but in fact it's a private reserve in a populated area that is owned and run by the Mosa family.  Some people refer to it as the Parc Mosa.

I am pretty sure that everyone that visits the "spiny forest" in Ifaty comes here.  I don't believe there is anything else to see in the Ifaty area wildlife wise.

It's actually a really nice forest and was one of the few places that had some baobab trees. So that, plus some cool wildlife, made it a worthwhile 2 hour stop.

Boabab Twins

The mighty Baobab Tree

Malagasy Graffiti

We came across a pair of sickle-billed vangas hunting for insects and grubs and I managed to catch one in the act of finding, flipping, and eating something:

Sickle-billed Vanga Hunting...

And catching...

And flipping...

And eating

These are very cool birds and it was fun behavior to witness.

The long-tailed ground roller was a key target for the morning and we were eventually able to see one but it wasn't keen on holding still for pictures so this is the best I got:
Long-tailed Ground Roller

It reminded me a lot of the roadrunner which we have in our yard. In fact, one was just sunning itself outside my window.

Bernier's Striped Snake (Dromicodryas bernieri):
Bernier's Striped Snake

Antimena Chameleon (Furcifer antimena):
Antimena Chameleon

Sub-desert Mesite:
Sub-desert Mesite

We also saw two new mammals. The Petter's Sportive Lemur (Lepilemur petteri) and the Grey-brown Mouse Lemur (Microcebus griseorufus).  Both were in thick foliage so photos were just about impossible.

The only downside to this stop was when we got back to the parking lot we were really hassled to buy stuff from the people manning the tables, several of which were children (which was common throughout our trip).  They were all pretty much selling the same stuff but saying "no thank you" to one of them just meant another would get in our face and try some high pressure sales tactic.  It was way over the top and cost them sales since even though there was some nice stuff none of us felt like actually buying anything.

We got to the airport about 1.5 hours before our 12:55 flight to Tana.  Once again, all bags were weighed and we were hassled about our over weight camera bags.  Bruno stepped in and tried to work his magic as much as possible.  Now, unknown to us, Cactus tours actually bought business class seats for us.  The agent told Bruno that the only way they would let Bill through would be for him to downgrade to economy.  We suspect they overbooked and wanted to use that business class seat for someone else.  Bill graciously agreed and we ended up not being charged for our camera bags.

With the bags finally taken care of we had to say goodbye to Bruno and Dida. As I mentioned earlier we really enjoyed spending time with both of them and they are definitely one of the fond memories that we will take back home with us.  Plus, Dida provided me with the perfect response that I can use at home when Karen starts to ramble a bit.  "UhhhHHH!"

And now, the most surprising news of the trip!

The flight actually left on time and was a direct flight back to Tana.  Wow, we couldn't believe it but we figured that we were due for some good luck on Tsaradia.  They did give us a full bag search and frisking before they let us on the plane though.

The "business class" seat was just a normal seat but they did try to serve us food which we turned down since it included uncooked food. But, the highlight was a fancy looking amenities pack that ended up holding a hand fan.  Thank goodness we got that fan because it was incredibly hot in the plane for the first 30 minutes or so and we were all waving those fans in front of our faces like there was no tomorrow.

We arrived back in Tana to smoke filled air just like when we left which was too bad.  Luckily, we once again were staying at the Relais de Plateau hotel so our drive from the airport was only about 10 minutes and was relatively traffic free.  Once we got back to the hotel the heavens opened up with some monsoon like rain that helped to clear the air.

Dinner was interesting. Karen's fish was really good and mine was really bad.  But, I did enjoy the apple tart for dinner and of course the Relais de Plateau always had my beverage of choice...

What a lifesaver

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