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Trip Report Madagascar Trip Report

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Saturday -- I had used Delta SkyMiles to book a business class ticket (120,000 miles) from JFK to Antananarivo on Air France, but I was upgraded to First Class on my JFK to Paris leg. I traveled next to one of the ESPN sportscasters who was traveling to Paris to cover the French Open.

Sunday -- after transiting in CDG and showering in the lounge, I arrived in Antananarivo (Tana), Madagascar's capital, and was transfered to Hotel Colbert (nicest hotel in Tana, and it was OK -- nice room, lobby filled with hookers, good bar, CNN). After traveling around 20 hours, I had no trouble falling asleep.

Monday -- drove to Perinet, one of the best national parks. Stopped along the way at a small "zoo" that raised chameleons -- they had many different varieties and I think they sell them to foreign zoos and collectors. At Perinet, I stayed at Vakona Lodge, the most upscale lodge in Madagascar (I'd give it three stars -- very basic). Food was OK, room was very spartan, but a nice pool. We hiked at night to see nocturnal lemurs and chameleons, but not much luck.

Tuesday -- morning hike in Perinet to try to locate Indri, the largest and loudest lemur. Very interesting hike through rain forest and up into hills -- I was covered with mud, leeches and was soaking wet, but we found two different groups of Indri. The guide played their call on his tape recorder, and the Indri responded by loudly howling and I think their call can be heard over one km away. In afternoon, drove back to Tana and overnighted at hotel near airport (very, very basic).

Wednesday -- caught morning flight to Morondova, on Mad's west coast, and was picked up by owner and guide and chef from Chez Maggie for drive to Kiridny Park via Avenue du Baobob. Stopped at zebu (cattle) market on the way. Saw hundreds of baobob including Avenue du Baobob and took lots of photos. About another 90 minutes to Kirindy. While waiting for cook to prepare lunch, went on short hike and located Sifaka (a large lemur). Great lunch (smoked fish, salad, tons of grilled shrimp and Three Horses Beer). After that, went on long hike and found Brown Lemur, Sportive Lemur and Sifaka. Returned to camp for snack and then went on nocturnal hike and located Mouse Lemur, Sportive Lemur and Pygmy Mouse Lemur. They Pygmy Mouse Lemur was identified in the 1850s and then not seen again until 1995 and only live in Kirindy -- they are the world's smallest primates and we saw several (I thought it interesting that in less than two years I have seen world's smallest and largest primate, silverback gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda). After hike, drove back to Morondova and Chez Maggie, a great place to stay right on the Indian Ocean.

Thursday -- spent time at beach on Indian Ocean (the Mozambique Channel) outside Chez Maggie -- great beach, very few tourists. Lunch was garlic crabs (delicious), but when I was leaving, the local fishermen were dropping off enormous lobsters, but since I wasn't able to stay for dinner... Flew back to Tana and overnighted near airport.

Friday -- flew to Ft. Dauphin, at the southern tip of the country, and drove to Berenty, a private reserve known for ring tailed lemurs. Arrived around 10:00 and after lunch, went hiking and saw plenty of ring tails and also more sifaka. After dinner, went on night hike in spiny forest (plants look like cacti) and saw several nocturnal species.

Saturday -- flew back to Tana, spent day at Hotel Colbert, and caught redeye flight to Paris and was back in NY on Sunday.

Madagascar, obviously is a long trip, but I'm glad I visited, even for one week. While I like wildlife (I've been on lots of safaris, and have visited the Galapagos, for example), I think I would have grown bored if I had extended my trip to visit more parks and see more lemurs. One week was enough, for me. The lemurs were interesting, but didn't hold my attention like game on safaris in east and southern Africa. While the trip was interesting, I don't find myself yearning to return, which is the feeling I had after returning from the traditional safaris or the Galapagos, for example.

I have posted some photos on

http://www.kodakgallery.com/BrowsePhotos.jsp?Urefreshkey=1117724532849&collid=549187414205&page=1&sort_order=0

Michael

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