Thursday, September 23, 2010
Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park, Madagascar
Today promises to be a little more leisurely day. All hikes start from our eating location by the river so no truck rides today except to and from the hotel. However upon arrival and the Dutch compound, we are told that Fianne is feeling ill today and will not be joining us for the canoe or the hike… that is a bummer as we enjoy her company but more so that we don’t want her to be ill on her vacation. But intrepid as we are.. we push on.
Down for breakfast and then off to our tandem dugout canoes for a trip up the river first to look at two really excellent river caves that are often inhabited we are told by our guide Simon. The first cave has some interesting croc tracks leading in and also an excellent stalagtite as we walk in. Deeper in the cave is an interesting cave moth and a lovely cave frog.. thats about the extent of the animal interest here but the cave itself soars over 40 meters inside the cliff face and is generally a really cool place to poke around.
Up the river a little farther and we are in a double decker cave. After craling on our knees to get to the frist set of caves we see a second cave through a TINY hole that has some great stalagtites and stalagmites. There is a second cave system on top of this one that we hike out and then climb up to. Similar scenery of cave hangings and back out to the canoe again. As we travel back down the river we see a classic example of native burial in the cracks of the cliffs overhead. You can see the rock pilings indicating a less than seven year old burial as until that point the body is piled in rocks during decomposition. After seven years, the relatives have a massive celebration known as the turning of the bones, were they come and unbury the body, wrap it in lamba silk and then reinter it, unburied on the same cliff shelf.
Returning to Bar Mecury for lunch, we head up to see how Fianne is doing and we find that she has not progressed much and has decided to skip the small Tsingy’s so back down we go for our lte morning hike. There are not harnesses for this hike and the scenery is very similar to what we have seen in the Big’s.. tight slot canyons and sipky rocks. So not much new to report here. The main difference is a greater presence of water in the deep rocks and more vegitation along with smaller Tsingy’s.
The big news from this hike was the viewing of the Sefaka lemurs high in the trees right in front of our high up view point. Perfect timing and location for our viewing. We also managed to wind our way down to stand under the trees just in time to see them up close with thier babies and then jump like monkeys from limb to limb to run out of our way .. all with the little creatures clinging to thier bellies or backs.
The rest of the hike brought some really cool viewings of birds and camelons but basically was a blessedly cool hike through the forest and around the edge of the rocks back to the park entrance.
This gave us PLENTY of time to relax today. How did we handle it. A nice long cool shower, followed by a couple rounds of local giner rum with lemonaid and several rounds of a game I cant seem to recall the name of at the moment. But it reminded me so very much of the drunken games we made up in the dorms with cards stuck to our foreheads and rules made up on the fly. AS we watch the sunset while we listen to dutch rock music from our portable speakers (and around the occasional political and economic argument between Pat and I.. good natured of course!) the time comes for dinner. One last run down to Bar Mercury for dinner. Tonight was duck and it was quite yummy. I have been abstaining from THB with the thoughts that it might have been contributing to the mild case of Africa Arse that I’ve been fighting and we’ll see how well that theory works out shortly.
Tomorrow we head out on an epic sojourn from Tsingy to Morandova over the moonscape roads we came in on with a detour to the Baobab trees for some late afternoon/sunset pictures there.