After the two National Parks in the north, and another overnight stay in Antananarivo, we flew to the far south, landing in Port Dauphin after looking down on some lovely country, mountains, rivers and lagoons and a long coastline, the breakers white against the deep blue of the Indian Ocean.
From Port Dauphin we travelled by road to the west of the city to Berenty Private Reserve.
Flying from Tulear where we dropped off passengers along the southern coast towards Port Dauphin.
Closer to Port Dauphin we passed over some lagoons with the water in hues of blue and green.
Coming in to land at Port Dauphin, with the lagoon and shoreline in full focus.
The road from Port Dauphin to Berenty Private Reserve is a mere 83 kilometres (51 miles) but recognising that the road was made by the French in 1958 and not repaired since, you will understand we were travelling rather slowly, dodging around potholes large enough to swallow an oxcart, teetering half on the remnants of tarmac and half on the gravel and sometimes detouring through dry river beds when the bridges were deemed unsafe. However, there was plenty to observe on the way and the drive took us through three distinct zones – the green coastal area, the dry uplands and the arid region of spiny forests.
Heading out from the city, people were going home or to work by bicycle or on foot managing their loads as best they could.
Others were on their way to make their purchases and take them home on a handcart.
We passed many men toting huge loads of charcoal to sell in the city. Many travel some 30 km every day to make their sales.
The landscape is very beautiful, with rice paddies and hills in the distance.
Market day in a small village along the way.
Women returning home from the market, their wares carried gracefully on their heads.
A family resting on the hilltop on their way home.
We crossed a wide river and noticed these small canoes in which the men were dredging sand from the river bottom
to sell to individuals and companies building houses – the sand an important ingredient for the cement.
These men, and many women too carrying bundles of reeds and leaves to be used in thatching roofs.
A farmstead close to the road with their fields beyond.
A busy little town with a bus stop for travellers – many climbing on board and others selling their produce.
One of the food stall in the same small town catering to the locals and travellers.
Brightly covered packages carried by these women walking the road.
A whole extended family travelling by ox-cart and on foot after a day at the market.
A village nestled in the foothills, rice paddies in front, mountains beyond.
Father and son stop to chat with us, the young boy wanting to see my camera, the man smiling and holding fast to his hen.
A mother carrying the youngest and two older sisters, already well acquainted with toting other loads.
A small hamlet close to the road, the houses made from timber culled from the forest.
A bullock cart passing along the road.
The final stretch of road before Berenty Private reserve, with acre upon acre of sisal plants grown for rope making and supported by foreign companies from several countries.
Welcome to Berenty Private reserve – home to lemurs and other wildlife.
Our first sighting on the side of the road was not a lemur, but a chameleon daintily making its way along a thin branch.
Ring-tailed lemurs just hanging around the lodge…
… and minding their own business.
Wouldn’t say no to a banana.
Playing with whatever is at hand.
A comfortable perch in the crux of a tree.
Looking up into the canopy, there were other lemurs as well, less cheeky than the ring-tails.
The wonderful sifaka, with thick white coats and brown faces.
Completely at ease sitting or swinging through the treetops.
A few more pix of the sifaka.
A much small brown lemur sitting high in the trees …
.. and peering back at us with those huge brown eyes.
And a tiny little brown lemur, well hidden in the cleft of a tree trunk.
A red-fronted brown lemur stares down from his perch in a tree.
On a night walk, we had the opportunity to see a mouse lemur, one of the smallest and shyest of the lemurs.
And a chameleon dozing on a branch.
A ring-tail lemur still awake and feeding on leaves well into the night hours.
Another chameleon sleeps on the end of a branch, their favourite possie in the night, ready for a quick get-away
by dropping to the ground should anything be interested in making it a meal.
So it’s goodnight from him and goodnight from me!
The next blog will also be about the wonderful wildlife in Berenty Private Reserve in the south of Madagascar, with an early morning walk and time spent in the spiny forest.
Plenty more lemurs to come.