September 27, 2016
This post is part of a 10 day trip with Remote River Expeditions.
We woke at 5AM for a 5:30 departure. Alex was already waiting for us and had collected our breakfast box – a bag containing 2 rolls with butter, 2 cakes and a package of toasted bread, and a lemonade type juice in water bottle.
It’s a bumpy 1.5 hour drive through dry rain forest to the parking lot of the Grand Tsingy. Other drivers may do this route faster as our driver, Dominque, seems particularly cautious.
We reach the parking lot at 7AM and are the first to arrive which I highly recommend. The first kilometer of the 4K walking route is through the forest. The shade is very welcome as the day is already heating up.
Our first lemur sighting is eyes peering out of the top of a high tree stump.
A little while later Robert, our guide, points out white lemurs jumping through the trees. Their long bodies, graceful yet powerful, leap with keen precision.
As we approach the Tsingy sharp boulders begin to line the trail. Near the entrance the trail passes through a narrow cave just wide enough to walk through.
A dark passage way climbs a slippery slope, ending at a large area open to the light. Past here starts the climb up to the view point. There is nothing too technical and the climb isn’t a problem for those used to light scrambling. Some guides provide harnesses to clip onto the cables that line the steeper sections, really overkill in many areas.
A narrow ladder helps traverse the steeper slabs. Other aides include stone steps bolted in the side of the rock face. Good shoes are a must on the jagged stones.
At the viewpoint we immediately see a group of red fronted brown lemurs, playing or fighting on the jagged pinnacles. The males are the duller brown color. The reddish brown females sometimes have babies wrapped around their middles.
We hear a group of tourists below us and descend to give them a turn at the small viewpoint. Just below and a little further along the trail we get a better up-close look at the lemurs. According to Robert it’s rare to find the lemurs on the tsingy.
Fascinating to watch these creatures – the stripe down the center of their face, piercing eyes, curious feet, amazing grace on the stone, babies clinging tightly.
Alex pours water on the rock to attract them. When the show ends we continue through the pinnacles to the second viewpoint.
The views are similar to those of the Petit Tsingy only larger both in scale and in the area covered. If you like scrambling it’s great fun to climb through the labyrinth of formations, up and down to the suspension bridge.
There is another great view from here that might have better light in the afternoon sun when a larger expanse of formation would be lit.
Past the suspension bridge the route winds back down steep craggy sections with cables to clip into, again overkill in my opinion.
Some narrow passages require crouching down or crawling on all fours.
Back out in the forest we find one last lemur lounging on a branch just above us. He seems relaxed and used to people.
We arrive back at the parking lot at 10AM. It’s now full and the sun is hot; so glad we started early.
We are back at the hotel at 11:30AM with the afternoon free to rest for the journey to Morondava the next day.