Fossa ! The cat-like lemur-eating star of Madagascar
(Location: Kirindy, Madagascar)
When we booked this trip, we asked the travel agent when the best time to travel was based on what we wanted to see. I remember him saying, “If you go in the first few weeks of November, all of the fossa are mating so you will be more likely to see one.” Um, ok, so they wait all year and then hook up in November?
The supposed best place to see this phenomenon was in Kirindy, conveniently located near the iconic Avenue of the Baobabs. Our flightt from Tana was delayed a few hours, so when we arrived in Morondava, our driver was missing. Our guide arranged for a local taxi to take us to a nearby hotel for lunch. This was likely a mistake. One look at the pool and beach, and one bite of an amazing lunch, and I didn’t want to leave.
From Morondava, it was a 45 minute drive on a bumpy, sandy road to the Avenue of the Baobabs (Allee des Baobabs). We stopped for the obligatory photo opp and then continued another 45 minutes to Camp Amoreaux (our home for the next two nights). Our tent was perched on a platform, covered in a thatched roof, and attached to a bathroom out back.
That afternoon, we went over to the park and picked up a local guide to try to see the fossa. “You want to see the fossa?” he asked. Um yeah… He guided us about 50 yards behind the reception area and bang – two fossa mating in a tree. Then another one just hanging out on the forest floor. Then a mouse lemur hanging out on a post in the reception area. Ok – we’re done.
When we returned to camp it was still stifling hot and wickedly buggy. We’d seen what we came to see, so we asked our guide if we could go back to the nice resort in Morondava for the last night. He thought that we were unhappy though, so it took a while to explain we were thrilled to have seen everything already and were now ready to relax. He said that he would see what he could do, and had the driver take him a ways down the road where there was a cell phone signal.
Dinner that night was the most dodgiest of the trip. They said it was meat but it tasted like smoked fish with a lot of ginger. Our guide explained that he arranged for us to return to Morondava tomorrow, “but you won’t have to pay for it.” We figured that it was a language thing and he meant “you will have to pay for it.” Later that night, they took us on a walk in the forest. It wasn’t really a walk, because about five minutes in they asked us to stand still, and within about a minute the forest was crawling with creatures interested to see us. We didn’t sleep too well that night because there was a ton of lemur activity around our tent.
The following morning we went for a short walk before heading back to Morondava. We arrived at the Pallisandre around lunch and checked in to room #12. Our guide told us that we had to pay for food, which made sense, however when we went to eat they said everything was included. We were totally confused but totally happy.
We spent most of the next day until it was time to leave for the airport around 2. The time of our flight’s departure came and went. No plane. No information. About an hour later, we learned that the flight was canceled, but there was no clear information on when the next flight would be. We were VERY thankful to have our guide with us, as the airport staff didn’t speak any English. There were two other tourist couples (one Canadian and one Israeli) on the flight, and they were thankful for our guide as well. We were told that the airline would put us up at a hotel near the airport, and they loaded us into a taxi brousse for 20 minutes of th worst roads we encountered on the trip. The Hotel Kimony seemed to be in the middle of nowhere, and it must have been entirely vacant because our whole flight was now staying here. A human-powered rickshaw took our bags down the path to our bungalow, which had air conditioning (when the generator was on) and a net-covered bed. Overall, the lodge was a nice surprise considering we were at the whim of Air Madagascar. The only thing slightly disturbing was the brochure on “attractions touristiques”. It was also a good thing that we agreed to all those buffer days in Tana, because without it we would have missed our international connection for the trip home.