International Women's Day in Madagascar

International Women’s Day in Madagascar

International Women’s day in Madagascar is a big deal. Women get the day off and most big groups are represented in the march through town. It was fun and festive and really empowering. After the march we went to a bar and spent hours talking feminism and harassment and other important subjects. The whole day left me really proud to have these women beside me. We ended the day swimming at a stunning beach, floating through huge waves and it was such a vivid moment of, “I can’t believe I get to live here and do this work.” International Women’s day in Madagascar was absolutely amazing.

And very timely because we had recently started having seminars about harassment women face in Malagasy culture, and let’s just say there’s a real divide between how national and international staff view harassment. It was a nice way to feel re-empowered after some difficult conversations.

International Women's Day in Madagascar

International Women's Day in Madagascar

International Women's Day in MadagascarInternational Women's Day in Madagascar

International Women's Day in Madagascar

International Women's Day in Madagascar

*some photos taken by other SEED staff

Fort Dauphin, Madagascar

January Goals

I’m trying a new thing where instead of plotting out large yearly goals, I break them down into bite-sized monthly goals. It’ll make everything feel more manageable and considering Gareth left yesterday and I’m feeling quite sad and far from home, it’ll give me a tangible list of things to focus on instead of the 6,000 miles between us.

january Goals

MPH

  • Finish the project for my Social Research class.
  • Finish the book for Issues in Public Health.

French

  • Get to lesson 16 in Pimsleur French 1. I used Pimsleur to learn Spanish before moving to Spain and it was hugely helpful. It’s a bit different this time, though. I studied Spanish from grade 8-11 in school, and though it had been nearly 10 years (!), a lot stuck with me. French is literally starting from scratch, I have to google how to spell oui, etc. I get through lessons a lot slower but the plan is to just stick with it and by the end of Jan be over halfway through level 1.
  • Work on the 1000 most common French words in Memrise (100 words).
  • Read first five chapters of Madrigal’s Magic Key to French.
  • Arrange for a tutor to begin biweekly lessons in February (waiting until I have SOME background).

Health and fitness

  • Stick with Kayla Itsines workouts three to four times a week for the full month. While I’m not crazy about the branding (every body is a bikini body, etc ), these are really effective and easy to do without equipment.
  • Try to figure out why I’m sick ALL. THE. TIME. The indicator for this is if I haven’t improved by mid-January to go back to the doctor.

So we’ll see how this goes. If I come close to accomplishing any of this, I’ll update and make a new one for February. If not, it’s safe to assume I failed on nearly all counts. :p

 

Ring-tailed Lemur at Berenty Reserve

All About the Lemurs

As you all know, we spent Christmas at the Berenty Reserve in Androy, Madagascar. You can read about the logistics of such an adventure here, and see the photo diary of everything but the lemurs here. What you will find below are the best pictures and videos I got of all the different lemurs that live in Berenty. So without further ado, the highlight of the trip — the lemurs!

Sifakas Lemurs

These guys were so cute. They live in big groups (up to 13!) and can co-exist peacefully with other lemurs (though they do have certain territory, it can overlap). Sadly, all species of sifakas are threatened, ranging from vulnerable to critically endangered. When not stuffing their faces, which we saw quite a bit, they spend a good part of the day sunbathing, stretched on the branches.

Sifakas lemurs in Berenty Reserve, Madagascar Sifakas lemurs in Berenty Reserve, Madagascar      Sifakas lemurs in Berenty Reserve, Madagascar Sifaksa Lemurs in Berenty Reserve, Madagascar

We also saw these guys do a little dance to cross the road at one point, which was honestly so, so cool.

Ring-Tailed Lemurs

These guys were crazy friendly and brave. Though we commonly saw them out in the forest, there are also about 20 who live in the camp and hang out whilst you eat (and try very hard to steal your food). The ring-tailed lemur is highly social, living in groups of up to 30 individuals. It’s matriarchal, a trait common among lemurs. To keep warm and reaffirm social bonds, groups will huddle together. The ring-tailed lemur will also sunbathe, sitting upright facing its underside, with its thinner white fur towards the sun. Sadly, though they reproduce quite easily, they are also endangered due to habitat destruction and hunting for bush meat and the exotic pet trade. In 2017, it was estimated there are only about 2,000 left in the wild.

Ring-tailed Lemur at Berenty Reserve Ring-tailed Lemur at Berenty ReserveRing-Tailed lemurs in Berenty Reserve, Madagascar

Brown Lemurs

These guys are called the “common” brown lemur and while they were cute they were kind of overshadowed by the others, haha. Though the littler, darker one below was very frightened of this water and watching it muster the courage to drink was pretty adorable.

Brown lemurs in Berenty Reserve, Madagascar

Also this momma was carrying her baby in her mouth as it was too young to cling to her back.

White Footed Sportive Lemur in Berenty Reserve, Madagascar

White Footed Sportive Lemurs

These guys are nocturnal, though we spotted a few in the day. They cling to bush and are pretty difficult to spot. Mothers will live with the children and males live in solidarity but have territories that will overlap those of one or more females. They also eat their own feces, so that’s something.

White Footed Sportive Lemur in Berenty Reserve, Madagascar White Footed Sportive Lemur in Berenty Reserve, Madagascar

Gray Mouse Lemur

This teeny little lemur (it only weighs about 2 ounces) is ADORABLE. We only spotted them at night and it was hard to get a good picture, but doesn’t it look kind of like a non-creepy furbie? The gray mouse lemur and all other mouse lemurs are considered cryptic species, as they are nearly indistinguishable from each other by appearance. For this reason, the gray mouse lemur was considered the only mouse lemur species for decades until more recent studies began to distinguish between the species.Like all mouse lemurs, this species is nocturnal and arboreal. It is very active, and though it forages alone, groups of males and females form sleeping groups and share tree holes during the day.

Gray Mouse Lemur in Berenty Reserve, Madagascar

So I’m assuming you’re currently looking up flights to Madagascar to have your own experience in Berenty Reserve, no?

Honestly, what an incredible Christmas/life experience this was. I’ve seen the lemurs!

Berenty Reserve, Madagascar

Berenty Photo Diary

Everything But the Lemurs

During our three incredible days at the Berenty Reserve, we were able to see so much. Dozens and dozens of lemurs, reptiles, birds, bats, and bugs. I’ve already written a post about the logistics of organising a trip to Berenty, but here I wanted to share a photo diary of our time there. This is everything but the lemurs as there were too many of those for one post. You can find the lemurs here!

The Room

Bungalow at Berenty Reserve
Bungalow at Berenty Reserve
Bungalow at Berenty Reserve
Accommodation at Berenty Reserve

 Animals

Lizard, Berenty Reserve, Madagascar Radiated Tortoise, Berenty Reserve, Madagascar Scorpion, Berenty Reserve, Madagascar

Berenty Reserve, Madagascar

Chameleon, Androy, Madagascar
Owl, Berenty Reserve, Madagascar
Lizard, Berenty Reserve, Madagascar
Sleeping Chameleon, Berenty Reserve, Madagascar
Bird, Berenty Reserve, Madagascar
Three-eyed Lizard, Berenty Reserve, Madagascar

We saw the cycle of life in full effect a few times as well 😉

Chameleons Mating, Berenty Reserve, MadagascarSpider Tortoises Mating, Berenty Reserve, Madagascar

Snake eating a bird, Berenty Reserve, Madagascar

yes, that is a snake eating a bird

Flying Foxes

Flying Foxes, Berenty Reserve, Madagascar
Flying Foxes, Berenty Reserve, Madagascar
Flying Foxes, Berenty Reserve, Madagascar

Berenty

Spiny Forest, Boabab Tree, Berenty Reserve, Madagascar
Baby Boabab Tree, in Berenty Reserve, Madagascar
Garden, Berenty Reserve, Madagascar
Spiny Forest, Boabab Tree, Berenty Reserve, Madagascar

We saw an 850 year old Baobab tree, which made my Little Prince loving heart very happy. Boabab Tree, in Berenty Reserve, Madagascar Boabab Tree, in Berenty Reserve, Madagascar

Don’t forget to check out the lemurs, here!

Spiny Forest, Berenty Reserve

Christmas at Berenty Reserve

Guys, we went to Berenty Reserve and I finally saw lemurs!! Hundreds of them!

We knew we wanted to stay around Fort Dauphin for most of Gareth’s trip, mainly so he can see where I’m living and help sort out my flat (thank you, G!!). But we wanted to do something special over Christmas which led us to Berenty.

Berenty is a small, private reserve about 3.5 hours from Fort Dauphin, and one of the most famous in all of Madagascar. It’s one of the best places to see lemurs in the country, and where primatologist Alison Jolly studied lemurs for over 50 years. If you’re into lemurs, this is your spot.

Logistics

Transport

You need to organise transport to and from the reserve directly — you can’t just turn up. They can arrange this from Tana, but in Fort Dauphin the Le Dauphin hotel is their sister site and you can arrange things there. You’ll be picked up from the hotel early in the morning with a driver and a guide. The drive out is part of the experience, with a few stops along the way to see the changing landscape. We had a fantastic drive out, you can see some of the pictures below.

Drive to Berenty from Fort Dauphin Drive to Berenty from Fort Dauphin Spiny Forest, Drive to Berenty from Fort Dauphin Chameleon, Drive to Berenty from Fort Dauphin

Food

There is a restaurant at the reserve, but nowhere to buy snacks. The restaurant is a fixed menu — continental breakfast (with or without eggs) in the morning, and three courses (starter, main, dessert) during lunch and dinner. Breakfast is from 6 – 9, lunch from 12-2:30 and dinner 7-10. The food was good but not great — though this lobster on Christmas Eve was quite the treat.

Lobster Dinner Christmas Eve Berenty Reserve

Electricity and Water

The reserve runs on generator power, so there’s electricity from 5am to 9am, 11am to 3pm and 5pm to 10pm. This is generally fine but as it’s the peak of summer, nights without a fan or air con were HOT. There is also running water, flushing toilets, and showers with hot water. (YES, PLEASE!)

Accommodation at Berenty Reserve Grounds at Berenty ReserveAccommodation at Berenty Reserve

Cost

The cost for transport and the guide is €157 each. While we originally thought this was a bit high, after having experienced the level of service, it felt like such an incredible deal. It includes the driver, gas to/from the reserve, a guide who provided us with three (long) walks a day (7-11 am, 3-6 pm, and 7-8 pm), room and board for both driver and guide, and entrance to the reserve and museum.

It’s another €62 each night for a double occupancy room. Meals are 19,000 Ariary each for breakfast and 36,000 Ariary for lunch and dinner, however on special occasions (Christmas Eve), there is a special menu that was €22 each. Water, and most drinks, are 6,000 Ariary.

The experience

Ring-tailed Lemur at Berenty Reserve

You see SO much at Berenty. You’re basically guaranteed to see all the different types of lemurs that live in the reserve, and you can get quite close to them! We also saw chameleons, flying foxes, snakes, so many cool bugs, tortoises, and a crocodile. We saw so many incredible things, which you can see in the photo diaries here and here. Our guide JP was incredible — he was SO knowledgeable about everything and just such a nice person to be around.

Ring-tailed Lemur at Berenty Reserve

In all, if you’re in Southern Madagascar and at all interested in lemurs, Berenty Reserve should be top of your list!