“We’re all carried along by the river of dreams” – Billy Joel.
Lemurs are native to Madagascar 🇲🇬 and an endangered species, so I put a visit to the famous Lemurs’ Park at Katsaoko on my itinerary when backpacking on this huge island. It’s Africa. It’s Indian Ocean. It’s island magic. It’s tropical. It’s full of incredible places not seen elsewhere on planet earth. This is a golden dream and probably I’m guilty of not giving enough time on this jaunt to the madness of Madagascar – I also fired Malawi, Mozambique, Mauritius and Reunion Island into my 2023 Africa To Indian Ocean spring jaunts…but Madagascar got the ball rolling and I got my Madagascar visa on arrival at Antananarivo and set about planning my trip. I titled it my MMM Hat-trick tour.
On arrival, I was met by my pre-arranged driver and taken to the quirky perky Hotel Sakamanga in “Tana” (Antananarivo).
Getting To The Lemurs’ Park At Katsaoka
You can book a tour or book a driver to get here to the Lemurs’ Park. There’s actually a tour that runs daily from Antananarivo and is recommended but I was going alone and you need a minimum of two, plus I wanted to see other things too. That tour lasts from 9 a.m. until 14.00 in the afternoon and costs 185,000 Malagasy Ariary (42 US Dollars). I didn’t book this tour, but here are the details of it…
The Lemurs’ Park is a private, 12 acre botanical park situated next to the muddy brown Katsaoka River and between the villages of Fenoarivo and Imerintsiatosika, 22 kilometres (14 miles) southwest of Antananarivo along Route Nationale 1 (The RN1) in the direction of Ampefy. Here it is on the map.
Other ways to get to The Lemurs’ Park At Katsaoka:
- Taxi-brousse (Tanà – Imerintsiatosika):
– Price: from Ariary 1,500 to Ariary 2,000 per person
– Departure point: Anosibe (at the bottom of the flower market, opposite COLAS)
- City taxi:
– Price: from 80,000 Ariary (round trip) depending on the quality of the car and the length of the wait
- Rental car:
– Price: from Ariary 100,000 (round trip) depending on the quality of the car and the length of the wait
- (when I was there, 1 US Dollar was 4,399 Malagasy Ariary).
I hired a driver for a full day of travelling which included market stops, bar/cafe stops, football stadium, countryside stops, a few other things and a trip to Ambohimanga. The Royal Hill of Ambohimanga is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a breath thefter at a lofty height and I visited it later the same day, pre-sunsink. I actually had two different drivers during my time in Madagascar, Nolavy and Tojo. Tojo was the driver who took me to The Lemurs’ Park.
Firstly though, my driver took me to The Lemurs Park as it was a nice idea to do this one in the morning. I was sleeping in Antananarivo, where I stayed at the Hotel Sakamanga firstly, then I stayed at Hotel Le Riad. The Lemurs’ Park is in wild countryside, next to the Katsaoka River, itself gorgeous…as was the drive here.
History of The Lemurs Park At Katsaoka
The Lemurs Park (also known locally as Parc de lémuriens à Madagascar) is a small botanical garden and lemur reserve covering 5 hectares (12 acres), and is located 22 kilometres (14 miles) southwest of Antananarivo, Madagascar. It was founded around the year 2000 and it has a website and Facebook page too – listed at the bottom of this article.
Most of its nine lemur species are free-ranging within the park, which also contains more than 70 of Madagascar’s endemic plant species. The park is open to the public, offering guided tours as well as standard amenities, a gift shop, and a restaurant.
Arrival at The Lemurs’ Park At Katsaoka
On arrival, I head to reception to pay the entrance fee which includes a guide and I’m delighted to have an expert to show me around here. The tour lasts 1 hour and 30 minutes and costs 70,000 Ariary for an adult – this is around 16 US Dollars or £12.78 Northern Irish pounds.
There are some rules and regulations and then I meet my guide. I was lucky to have such an amazing guide! My guide was Princia.
Meet Princia, My Excellent Guide
I’m biased here but my guide is the best guide, her name is Princia. If you get an option to have Princia as your guide – take her. Welcoming, open, informative, fun and happy – not to mention her expert camera skills since I was travelling alone, Princia was able to take photos for me.
Here are some of the highlights of the tour…
For me, the Lemurs were the undoubted highlight. Obviously – this is why we are here. The 9 lemur species are free to roam here – it’s their lair and they don’t harm us and we don’t harm them. We admire and they are beautiful creatures. I see a few of the different species and the colours are different. I’m not an animal geek but I decide to do some research on lemurs, sadly MOST lemurs are endangered species.
Lemurs are the most famous animals of Madagascar. They are considered to be the ancestors of the monkeys, more exactly as distant cousins. The lemur family includes 36 species, the vast majority of which are found only on Red Island. Here at The Lemurs’ Park we can see these species:
6.Lemur Catta/Lemur Maki
Unlike mainland Africa where lemurs have disappeared in the face of competition with other primates, those of Madagascar have been able to evolve in peace on this large remote island. That’s the magic. It is believed that the first lemurs arrived in Madagascar on floating trunks, following natural disasters. These lemurs that colonized the island were very primitive animals. They were similar to the smallest lemurs today: the mouse-sized mouse lemurs. Gaze and admire their beauty.
My guide was Princia of course although there were a few park rangers we met on the Lemurs walk. We also met a Chinese couple and watched the lemurs together – they were climbing in the trees.
I also drank a Booster Apple Cider that day as I was really hot in the sun. This was refreshing and I sank it next to some black and white lemurs, the Varecia Variegata species.
Before the tour, I didn’t realise I’d also be seeing some tortoises so this was a bonus. I sat and chilled out, admiring these slow creatures. On my travels, I have so many incredible animal experiences and I’d now want to add tortoises and lemurs to my post on my favourite animal experiences.
Our walk at the Lemurs’ Park takes us by the gorgeous muddy, chocolately brown Katsaoka River.
Post-walk beer and Souvenir Shop
After seeing the lemurs, the river and the tortoises, we walk back up the hill and the tour is over. I decided to chill out with a beer here – there is a restaurant and a souvenir shop.
This was a splendid morning adventure on life’s corridor. My eternal thanks to Princia my guide for such an insightful tour here and the other staff I met too. Please go and see the lemurs!
Here are some useful links about The Lemurs’ Park At Katsaoka:
Here are some videos I made at The Lemurs’ Park in Katsaoka, Madagascar: