A fascinating countryside. This is the short and enthusiastic description of what we saw for more than six hours in southern Madagascar as we were transported to and from Berenty Reserve, a place of famous lemurs.
Day 2 on Madagascar: Tana – Fort Dauphin – Berenty
After an hour-long morning drive to the airport in Antananarivo and two hours of waiting for an Air Madagascar’s domestic flight, we found ourselves early in the afternoon (on the 24th day of our African adventure) in Fort Dauphin (or Tolagnaro, in the Malagasy language) in the southeastern part of Madagascar. But we wanted to reach the southernmost tip of the island to meet the famous lemurs there, so some more travel was needed. Two people were waiting for us at the airport: our private naturalist guide and our driver. It turned out that we needed a separate driver for the small pickup truck for security reasons. The roads are so bad in this part of the country – they are full of potholes – that in the case of emergency on the road we would have needed the help of a second person.
We passed through very poor villages, saw local markets, zebus being herded, charcoal piled up for sale by the road, and smelled the charcoal in the air. We learned that in this area, many of the people are illiterate. Our guide, Jean Phillipe, a young man with deep knowledge of the natural world and his culture, gave us lots of information about the state of the world in Madagascar.
We were close to Berenty when he suddenly stopped the car. We got out to see our first lemur in the trees by the road and our first chameleon on a branch. First, he noticed the lemur, but he quickly spotted the chameleon too to our great delight.
Because it was almost dark by the time we reached Berenty after 6 p.m., we could see only a tiny bit of our surroundings. After dinner we were ready for bed to get a good nights sleep in our little bungalow, but the mattress and the pillows were so uncomfortable that we didn’t get the good rest for which we were striving. It didn’t matter though. We were happy to be at Berenty eager for the next day’s adventure.