The Jungles of Ranomafana

Trip Start Aug 19, 2006
Trip End Nov 20, 2006

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Flag of Madagascar  ,
Sunday, August 27, 2006

GPS Coordinates:
S 2115'04.9"
E 04726'28.8"

Temperature: 20.1C
Humidity: 72.3 %
Pressure: 93.8 kPa
Altitude: 706 m

Salama! (Hello!)

Second stop: Ranomafana which means Rano=eau Mafana=chaude or hot water!

Again the scenic drive down to Ranomafana was very nice. I didn't think that Madagascar was this mountainous / hilly. This is due to the the tectonic forces that started to compress and push upwards the sediments present, after the island which is now Madagascar left the main African continent many eons ago. The rock faces seem like clouds where you can almost see them changing into recognizable shapes depending how you look at them.

We stopped in Ambositra. By the way, in Malagasy o=ou; tr=tch; and the a at the end is silent. We toured a shop specialized in working rare and valuable woods present in Madagascar. Didi explained how they make the traditional Malagasy bricks used in all constructions. It turns from a pale yellow / grey to a bright red / orange, much like the surrounding earth, after being "cooked". They use the mud from the rice fields to create the bricks. By the way, there is no electricity, so all heating and cooking is done with wood or charcoals produced from said wood.

Followed the change of scenery and the Namorona river to Ranomafana which is the closest thing to a tropical rainforest I have ever been. There is just something magical about going into such a place with some Metallica blasting in the car (Did I mention that Didi likes music...!).

We arrive in time for a night walk into Ranomafana National park with my guide "Rhodin" to look for nocturnal lemurs. We found a few animals.

My hotel is situated in the middle of the jungle with a flowing river within earshot, AMAZING! Did I mention that the stars are not the same in the Southern hemisphere... first time I notice, really weird not recognizing any constellations (i.e. no Big Dipper!)

The next day we start an exhausting 7 hours walking trek (15-20 km) through the park and more. Rhodin (40 years old) is very experienced (17 years) and used to this (not me!) so deciding that I am well prepared and in fairly good shape we took the longest and hardest trail where not many a tourist tread. The trail (What's the definition of a trail anyway?) was so hidden haphazardly and sometimes very narrow (2 foot ledge on the edge of a sheer drop Thank you!) that I sometimes asked myself if my guide was actually lost and not wanting to tell me! Let me tell you that going up several hundred meters on a naturally slippery staircase made of rocks and roots for several minutes and then down the other side in a similar fashion for hours on end in very humid conditions is TOUGH! I sweated a lot but made it in one piece, but I was a little bit sore and tired the next day.

All this effort to see lemurs deep in their jungle habitat was worth it. In total, I saw 7 out of the 12 species in this park, COOL!

Look at the selected pictures to see a little bit of what I experienced firsthand!

Veloma! (Vel"oo"ma = Goodbye!)
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