Over fifty-one species of lemur exist on Madagascar each occupying their own Darwinian niche amongst Madagascar’s seven climatic zones.
A form of old world primate that could easily belong in a museum, they have, through geographic isolation and lack of human interference been able to survive in Madagascar for over 35 million years. A keystone species whose bulbus eyes, human-like hands and fluffy coats instantly endear them all who journey to the variety of habitats they live in across the island, lemurs are without doubt the highlight of a visit to this exotic land.
The level of species diversity exceeds that of any other primate group. Ranging from the largest – the Indri; a size of a small child with a teddy bear like appearance and piercing call, to the smallest – the nocturnal Mouse Lemur weighing just 30g and growing up to 100mm long. Other easily seen favourites include the highly gregarious Ring-tailed lemurs who dwell among dry spiny forest in the semi-arid southwest, and the Bamboo lemurs, with their spindly hands, found in abundance swinging amongst lush rainforests in the central-eastern reserves. Perhaps the most unique, is the ‘dancing’ Sifaka whose characteristically long legs allow it to bound sideways on two feet at speed along the ground.
We usually recommend visiting at least two different parks or reserves within Madagascar to get a more wholesome sense of these captivating creatures. In each area a local guide will take you on a series of cut trails looking for tracks and signs of lemur activity, stopping for other interesting mammals, birds and trees as you go. Diurnal lemurs are most active in the morning before it gets too hot whereas nocturnal lemur walks tend to take place after dinner with a spotlight. Walking difficulty varies with popular areas being suitable for most, while the less-visited parks and reserves require a higher level of fitness and a keen sense of adventure. Walking lengths vary from two hours to full day hikes with picnics.