We woke up today with another day full of activities ahead of us. In this case, three different hikes and plenty of opportunities for tracking the multiple lemur species, most of which we hadn’t seen yet. The morning started with an early wake-up, and after a large breakfast it was a short drive to the main entrance for our first hike – a 4-hour trek to the heart of the park.
We started off by tracking the highly endangered bamboo lemurs, of which there are two varieties in Ranomafana: the greater bamboo lemur (also present in other Malagasy forests) and the extremely rare golden bamboo lemur. Once again, we count on the tremendous expertise of our extremely knowledge local guide, in this case almost a celebrity in this area. As it turns out, he accompanied Dr Patricia Wright, the first American researcher who studied this forest when it wasn’t yet a national park, back in 1984-86. With her, they discovered the existence of the golden bamboo lemurs, unknown until then. After spending several years studying the area, they were able to transmit the idea of this forest’s invaluable ecological value to the authorities, and Ranomafana was included in the list of Madagascar's national parks in 1991.
After a challenging trek, we were able to spot greater bamboo lemurs and black-and-white ruffed lemurs, but unfortunately not the golden bamboo lemur. In any case, the hike couldn’t have been better and we are all delighted with the experience.
Later that day we had an afternoon trek in the highlands of the park (where we tracked Milne-Edwards' sifakas and red-fronted brown lemurs) and a short night walk to see the elusive mouse lemurs, in addition to plenty of nocturnal frogs and chameleons.