Not much prepares you for your first encounter with Madagascar’s indigenous lemurs

Look at a photograph and you might be forgiven for thinking that lemurs are “a bit like a monkey”, worthy of a quick look and not much more. But this would be to vastly underestimate both their diversity and magnetic appeal.

The fact that Madagascar is populated by one dominant strand of primate and that evolution has allowed this strand to proliferate and diversify to such a degree is bewildering.

For those interested in evolutionary biology there can be few better examples than Madagascar’s wildlife of how random mutations, combined with natural selection can create such astonishing variety and occupy so many diverse ecological niches. Some adaptations are so exquisite that they take your breath away…and it’s almost impossible not to nod to your inner-creationist.

Whether it’s their piercing eyes - which seem to look through, as much as at you - their easy dexterity or their phenomenal agility, these animals are a delight to track, observe and photograph. And en-route you will find legions of other peculiar species, from giant iridescent green pill bugs, to frogs that look like Christmas decorations and geckos so green that you wont believe your eyes.

There are a number of parks in Madagascar where it’s possible to find and observe the various species of lemur. The starting point is likely to be Andasibe-Mantadia to the east of the capital Antananarivo. This is an excellent place to see these animals at close proximity and while you’re unlikely to have the experience to yourself, it’s still worth covering this area before heading slightly further off-piste. Chat with us about how best to get this balance right.

Habituated families of Indri live in Analamazaotra Reserve, an area of thick primary forest cut through with winding pathways. Here, if you’re lucky you’ll find yourself in the presence of Indri, sometimes at astonishingly close range. These are vocal animals, so part of the experience is to stand – slack-jawed – as they call to one another in the loud, reedy calls.

Children (and adults) will be mesmerised by the chance to tangle with a rescued family of lemurs at a reserve close to Andasibe (take a look at Madagascar for families). More than anywhere this gives a chance to see them at very close range (like for example sitting on your head) and is a great experience as a precursor to seeing their less habituated counterparts in other national parks.

We arrange safaris to Madagascar and have travelled there ourselves - drop us a line to discuss planning your trip there