and Parc Perinet are, roughly, here >
Madagascar is actually a bloody
big country, something we didn't quite realise before we went.
It's the world's 4th largest island apparently, so you can
absolutely forget about doing Madagascar, unless
you've taken a few months off work.
The CIA factbook is quite interesting
(honestly, I kid you not!) and can be found by clicking
We actually stayed in Andasibe
village which is apparently not really the usual
thing as there are a couple of resort hotels around, servicing one
of Madagascar's biggest wildlife parks, Parc Perinet, which is why
we were there. The Orchidee is a bit comically basic, but clean
and quite familiar to experienced backpackers. It is run by quite
possibly the most laid back individual the world has ever seen,
but he is friendly and nice and it is a good place to stay.
Next morning we walked
down to Parc Perinet which is within walking distance
of the village. We were up nice and early due to the morning call
of the Indri (a kind of lemur, of which more later). The noise is
generally described by travel writers as 'haunting', and we can
confirm that is really like nothing we've ever heard before - almost
like a gathering of hundreds of doleful ambulances singing songs
of woe to one another - it really is impossible to describe. You
have to hear it for yourself. The morning in the jungle is misty
and cold and with the sound of the Indri echoing about the hills
is one of the most affecting things we have ever experienced. Bewitching.
Some important points here: a/ it gets
cold at night. This may be the jungle but bring something relatively
warm; and b/ unless you're planning on doing serious trekking, you
probably don't need specialist kit. We were too disorganised to
bring any, but it was no big deal. I'd have appreciated a jumper
|The Andasibe Gallery
is quite big, click here to
Parc Perinet itself was
a resounding success. We walked around Perinet on
the first morning, you do have to get up early, and were rewarded
with plenty of close up time with the Indri. They did their level
best to shit all over us, but they are very tame and have no problem
letting you get close. They're among the biggest of lemurs, I think,
and really quite amazing animals. The next day we decided to pay
a bit extra and go up to the bigger wildlife reserve at nearby Mantadia,
which is primary forest and home to the Diamdemed Sifaka. Sifakas
are a kind of lemur, much less domesticated than the Indri, and
we wandered around the park all day before finally finding a small
family group late in the day. They are amazingly beautiful creatures.
After our morning exertions
we returned to Andasibe to have lunch at the amazing Hotel Buffet
de la Gare. It is a decaying relic of colonial times that has played
host to David Attenborough and Phil the Greek at various times in
its illustrious past and we were rewarded with a fully dressed colonial
dining room with no-one but us in it on both days. There was something
quite surreal about the whole scene, but the food was good and we
were able to wander down with a beer to sit on the platform and
watch the antique train puff in and out of the station (once a week).
We were also able to watch a basketball game on the dirt court across
from the station and show some of the younger kids the wonders of
modern digital cameras, which they found rather fascinating.
Two days of not charging
around was pretty much all we'd planned for, so on
the third morning we packed up and wandered off to Moramanga again
to change some money and strike out for Tamatave on the coast, before
heading up North to Soanierana-Ivongo and the Ile Ste Marie.