January 2, 2015

Ranomafana National Park

Up early this morning to take a walk around the Ranomafana National Park.

Path through the Ranomafana National Park

Path through the Ranomafana National Park

We saw a couple of different lemur types, such as the bamboo lemur, flat faced lemur and pointy nosed lemurs. There were times our guides left the track and took us through the park in an attempt to find and get closer to the wildlife, which is something that probably wouldn’t happen in too many other national parks. Anyway, once or twice we were within a metre of some lemurs who were just going about their business. It’s always hard to get some good photos of wildlife, they animals tend to move around a bit, then you have to try not to get in the way of other people, and on top of that, I couldn’t charge my camera batteries as I had no camera charger, so I was taking one or two shots, not reviewing them and hoping for the best! The nighttime shots weren’t that great, they were much more point in the general direction and hope… but at least some of the lemurs come out ok.

Greater bamboo lemur (I think!) Ranomafana

Greater bamboo lemur (I think!) Ranomafana

Within the national park there’s a nice vantage point which is not far from the entrance. It was a great place for a rest and drink, but because it was a bit of a clearing you could feel the heat, even though it was still earlyish in the day. It made you appreciate the dark and coolness of the rain forest and the coverage of the foliage even more.

View across the national park

View across the national park

After leaving the national park we took a walk around the town, through the market – all 20 stalls – before heading to the thermal pools. Ev had been wanting to go to these pools since hearing about them. Our driver kindly advised us to have a look at them before we paid. It was different – there was a row of rooms around the back, each of which literally had a huge concrete bath in them, a small space to change and obviously a door on the front. Some looked like they brought their family there for the weekly bath – makes sense, where else are you likely to get a warm bath! Maybe Sunday is washing day and bathing day! Otherwise, there was a big swimming pool as part of the complex, which was rather busy being a Sunday. Ev said it wasn’t quite what she was expecting and no longer wanted to go and I wasn’t too bothered either. We did get to watch a local soccer match though on the way past, good on them for getting out and having a run around in that heat!

Thermal pool, Ranomafana

Thermal pool, Ranomafana

Instead, we headed off to the arboretum, a short drive from our hotel, where we took a look around at the different types of trees in Madagascar. Gum trees, or Eucalyptus trees as they are probably known as there, were introduced to Madagascar in 1895. Many people are surprised that you even find gum trees outside Australia. I was surprised that they’d been introduced there so long ago. It’s well worth paying a visit (very well kept and signs are in 3 languages: local, french and english) and if you do manage to get there, keep an eye out for the huge chameleon. He was huge, the biggest and best we saw in all Madagascar.

Huge chameleon, body about the size of a man's forearm, Ranomafana Arborteum

Huge chameleon, body about the size of a man’s forearm, Ranomafana Arborteum

That night we headed off on a nocturnal forest walk. Again, not quite what we were expecting because we didn’t leave the side of the road. Our guide just walked up and down the road looking for wildlife, and used bananas smeared on some branches to attract some of the small lemurs. Bring your torches our guide said – but I was torchless because mine had been stolen, so I was pretty much useless in the search for wildlife! We did see a few different things – a few mouse lemurs, some frongs and a couple of small chameleons. Best thing about this walk was that at the end of it we started talking to another group who were parked near us. They were a couple from Australia who spoke French (French is the “second” language of Madagascar. Brush up on your French if you’re heading there, English speaking people are few and far between). Great to talk to some Aussies after so long and this was about the first tourist group we’d actually had a chance to talk to. Definitely quiet season when we were there (today was June 9 2013). Now here’s a question to contemplate: How do chameleons know what colour they should be in the dark?

Tiny brown chameleon, Ranomafana

Tiny brown chameleon, Ranomafana

Back to the Ihary hotel where we had a bite to eat. We weren’t really getting the hang of these French menus yet, but we had worked out what beef was in French. Too long since I did French at school and all I remember from that was translating the three bears into English. Not helpful at all!

Geese wandering through Ranomafana

Geese wandering through Ranomafana


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