But you can also see wild lemurs at Andasibe-Mantadia National Park. Here, with a guide, you walk — or run, at times — through the forest to see lemurs hanging high in the branches and bounding from one tree to the next.
Into the forest
Because we built two mornings into our itinerary in Andasibe, we decided not to take the babies into the forest, which is hilly and requires short sprints to chase down lemur families. Kaarli and Katie took Day 1 as Aaron and I babysat. Aaron and I went on Day 2.
Zaka, our guide, was a nature’s magician. While walking through the thick forest, Zaka would stop, cock his head to the side, then dive into the woods, ending up after a 30-second sprint under a family of lemurs. Over two to three hours, Zaka led us to four lemur families. The catch of the day, though, was the family of indri he found.
Indri, the largest of all lemurs, are known for an eerie call. Professional wordsmith that I am, all I could think to say was that the call sounded “squeaky.” Aaron thought it sounded like a small whale (a much better description).
Back in Nairobi, where we live and work, it’s not unusual to see monkeys hopping and swinging through trees in our yards. The lemurs, by contrast, glide, as if they are swimming through the canopy.
A family of five sat above me and Aaron. They glanced at us nonchalantly, then sprang through the trees, as if on a rocket-fueled pogo stick. I made only a half-hearted attempt to take a picture. I preferred to watch. Zaka told said that on a busy day 20 tourists might crowd around one family. That day it was just Aaron and me with a front row seat.
Zaka was a great guide but not nearly as colorful as the one we had two days later while hunting for lemurs at a lakeside resort near the coast. That guide lured out the lemurs by imitation. “Aroo-wah, aroo-wah. Whap, a-whap, whap-whap-whap-whap,” he sang into the forest, before adding a much more Americanized: “Let’s-go-let’s-go-let’s-go-let’s-go.”