We left at 7:30am to visit the Ranomafana rain forest park, about 6km from our hotel. We did a four hour trek, through dense vegetation and steep ascents and descents. It was very humid and the weight of my photo bag made the trek a challenging task.
We saw in total 6 different lemur species: Golden bamboo, Red-bellied, Big Grey Bamboo, Sifaka, Small Grey Bamboo and one more that I did not note down. All the lemurs that we spotted were on the trees , among the dense foliage so it was very difficult to take good pictures. It seemed to me that the guides know where the animals live, since it was fairly easy for them to discover them. It has been a while – 1992 in Ecuador – since I trekked in the rain forest and the feeling was again great.
We had a descent lunch in Setam Lodge and then left to drive back to Fianarantsoa.
We arrived around 4pm and checked in the Tsara Guest House, a lovely boutique hotel with beautiful rooms and restaurant, overlooking the valley.
After a short rest and we got back on the street to catch the golden hour light and visit the Haute Ville, the upper part of the town. We soon got escorted by tens of young kids trying to sell things and offer a ride in exchange for some ariary. One of them confessed that their teacher told them not to beg for money, so he had printed some “postcards” that he was selling for 3’000 ariary, roughly €1! Clever kids.
The Haute Ville is very beautiful, with narrow streets, colonial style houses and a couple of beautiful catholic churches. Poverty is evident as in the rest of the places we visited so far. I keep asking myself what is the best way to help these people to raise their income, but there is no easy answer. The colonial past stripped them off a large part of their assets, but I am not sure that they would be in much better shape if it did not happen. The western world needs to take some strong action on this.
Before returning to the hotel, we visited a nice cafe. The owner was very happy to tell us that he is able to read ancient Greek! The dinner in the hotel’s restaurant was excellent.
Straight to bed as tomorrow we have to take the 6:30 train to Manakara. Next: Fiana to Manakara by train.