We broke into two groups today. Teresa and Paul decided to go to Nosy Ve for some snorkeling on the island and James and the two of us, plus Bruno, went to Tsimanampetsotsa National Park to look at the woods and flamingos.
Peter and Sue were heading off for an early flight back to Australia so we said goodbye to them – good travel partners! Then we loaded into a four wheeler and headed to the park. We passed through a number of villages and passed many zebu carts on the one lane sandy road on the way.
We were also introduced to Malagasy burial traditions – massive stone structures built for one person. Many were painted with scenes from the life of the person and in bright colors. Many adorned with zebu horns to show the wealth of the deceased. There were quite a few.
Then we stopped at the nature center to meet our guide. There was a sculpture of an elephant bird (as they once lived in this area) out front – probably ten feet tall. Then into the van and off to the park proper.
We walked up a hill and down to see a cave with blind fish in it – a limestone foundation that had caved in and let a pool. It was also a sacred place for the locals. As we left we met an expedition of scuba divers that were going to dive this cave and come out at another cave. More porters than divers – a lot more.
We walked on a bit further and saw many baobab trees and elephant feet trees as well. Some of the trees were bearing fruit. We eventually came to the grandmother tree – a huge baobab that was over 3,500 years old. Massive thing.
Then to another sinkhole with a 150-year-old banyan tree – that covered a huge area – it was a forest in itself. Lots of spiny trees as well – this is the area of Madagascar called the spiny forest – low trees and all with thorns or some other form of protection.
As we wandered along the path the guide said “bird.” Kitty said “Turtle.” And they said that back and forth for a bit and it turned out they were both right – a bird in the path and a huge radiated tortoise right next to it! We eventually saw three tortoises, and Kitty put one over the edge of the path as it seemed trapped. There were also lizards (one looked almost exactly like a fence lizard) but the big thing was the trees – most in good shape, some that had died. And gray carrot trees as well.
Then back to the van and down the road a bit to the lake – where there were 10 – 20 of them in the lake grazing – a very light pink. There were also some shore birds, one of which kept trying to attack me! Not sure why. Then more flamingos showed up, some took off. Very pretty scene.
Then once more up the hill to a lake overlook and then back down. We then drove around the lake to see a flamingo egg – looked like it had been dumped there. But there were some nice flowers and Kitty collected some flamingo feathers.
Then off to a local village for a late lunch next to the beach, back to the hotel, dinner, and another quite evening.