Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Last Days in Madagascar: Isalo

The morning of our last full day of adventure in Madagascar dawned clear and sunny. We were very ready to savor what we could already tell was going to be a beautiful day.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Postcard: Budapest

Arched window of Buda Castle, looking over Parliament and the Danube ; Budapest, Hungary

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Anja Community Reserve


We didn't see Ring-tailed lemurs until we reached Anja Reserve, in southern Madagascar.  Well, we saw them in the Singapore zoo; they are one of the few lemurs that thrives in captivity, and the most common lemur found in zoos.  Anja is located at the base of this massive rock formation.  We spent a few hours there in the afternoon, after visiting Sidexam Tea’s factory, and before we reached our last destination, Isalo.


Friday, April 18, 2014

Madagascar Tea


Throughout our travels, we were never at ease with what we called the ‘show and sell’ program.  This was nominally a visit to see a local craft or art; however, it quickly turned into a sales pitch for those same wares.  It was never something we sought out; however, there were times when a guided tour was the most effective way to see something, and often a show and sell was part of the tour itinerary.  It was easier when we were part of a group, as we didn’t feel pressure—someone else in the group always bought something.  In Madagascar, we talked our guides out of most of the very few that were on our itinerary—they were generally on travel days between places, to fill time.  However, when Dorique asked us if we wanted to see the tea factory, we said ‘yes!’
We were guided through the Sidexam Tea factory by a pleasant woman; her hand appears above and below, holding finished black tea and freshly shredded tea plant leaves, respectively.


The factory was fascinating and terrifying at the same time.  There were no safety precautions anywhere.  As we walked in, we ducked under/between the moving hooks running in an overhead track, used to deliver leaf baskets to the conveyor belts.  We were surrounded by machinery that could crush, tear, and curl us just as well as it did the tea leaves, and there was nothing between us and injury but common sense and good balance. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014



We drove down a long, steep road, past a large waterfall, and then along the deep Namorona river valley leading to the town of Ranomafana.  The valley opened up when we reached the town, and we met our local guide, Rodan.  We set out for a night walk at sunset.  Ranomafana has had increasing difficulty with poaching/harvesting in the park at night, so it is now closed after sunset, but Rodan was confident that we’d see plenty along that same road we’d driven in on.  He was not wrong!


Monday, April 14, 2014

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Antsirabe to Ranomafana


We had another driving day, moving from Andasibe-Mantadia to Antsirabe, a large city where we’d spend the night before continuing to Ranomafana, our next wildlife destination.  As with every other drive, the scenery was ever-changing and beautiful. 


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Six Kinds of Lemur in One Day

We’d come to Andasibe for one major reason—because this is the place where the Indri Indri live. They don’t thrive in any other place. Not in zoos or wildlife parks, not in research facilities. Not even in other parts of Madagascar.  The morning after we arrived, while we were enjoying fresh guava juice at breakfast outside and chatting with Henriette, our hostess, we got our first indication of how the Indri Indri sound calling to each other in the distance.  Our lodge was probably five kilometers or more from where the nearest ones were. They can be heard for miles, keeping track of each other by sound.  Once we’d hiked into Andasibe, our guide, Desi, asked us to wait while he searched off the main trail for the nearest group of Indri Indri.  While we were waiting silently, we heard them calling again.  The sound is a little faint in the video above, though it wasn’t very loud in person, either.  There’s nothing to see in the video—aside from what an average section of trail looks like—just the eerie sound of the Indri Indri in the distance.