Expert Reviews – Anja CR
Philip is an acclaimed travel writer and author of many guidebooks, including the Bradt guides to Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa.
A rewarding community reserve
Situated about 12km from the small town of Ambalavao, Anja is Madagascar’s most popular and successful community reserve, created in 1999 with the support of some 200 local households and now attracting more than 10,000 visits annually. The tiny reserve is something of a one-trick pony – it is perhaps the best place to see and photograph large troops of the charismatic ring-tailed lemurs, who are frequently sunning themselves on the rocks, playing in the forest, or drinking from a small reservoir. Since the reserve was created, the local lemur population has increased from around 150 to 400, so you can be pretty certain of a sighting, especially if you arrive in the early morning. There are also some traditional tombs high up in the rocks. Don’t come here expecting to see a large variety of mammals or birds, but taken on its own limited terms, it is a great little project.
Ariadne is a renowned African wildlife photographer whose work is featured in many well-known guidebooks and magazines.
Walking with ring-tailed lemurs
This popular community-managed reserve is definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area. Anja protects a population of about 400 ring-tailed lemurs. The standard visit is a guided walk in a forest patch offering pretty-much guaranteed sightings of these charismatic primates. The circuit isn’t very long, so the 1½ hour walk leaves lots of time to photograph and observe. Early morning and late afternoon are the best times to see these highly sociable animals in action. Particularly interesting behavior to look out for is the unique ‘stink fighting’ where rivaling males compete for females by wafting their tails, which they first scented with their wrist glands, in front of their opponents. A more adorable habit of theirs is early morning sunbathing. No animal looks quite as chilled as a ring-tailed lemur facing the sun, eyes closed and arms stretched out wide as if suspended on invisible threads.