No trip to Madagascar is complete without seeing the cheeky ring-tailed lemurs, and Anja Community Reserve is probably one of the best places in the country to see them. It is a small reserve just off of the RN7, south of the town of Ambalavao, with several circuits to choose from ranging from 30 minutes to 2 hours. The reserve is run by local people who recognise that wildlife is important to them and without such special wildlife, there would be no tourists bringing money into the already poor country. Great efforts have been made to conserve species here and promote a more sustainable living through ecotourism. Now, the reserve possesses an abundance of wildlife and is currently home to about 400 ring-tailed lemurs. In fact, there are now so many lemurs here that they are hoping to plant more even trees to expand the reserve further!
Ring-tailed lemurs at Anja community reserve Anja Community Reserve, Madagascar
When we visited, we encountered several groups of ring-tailed lemurs including a large group of mums with their babies, some of which were carrying twins. The lemurs here are so used to people visiting Anja, so it is a great opportunity to get up close to them and take some good photos. Although bear in mind that you are not allowed to feed them here, so keep hold of your snacks (they will steal food from you, given the chance)! In addition to the ring-tailed lemurs, you are also bound to see a number of other species including birds, snakes and chameleons. Our guide and spotter pointed out several chameleons, such as this beautiful Oustalet's chameleon below, as well as striped Madagascar garter snake, grey-headed lovebirds and the impressively colourful rainbow milkweed grasshopper.
Oustalets chameleon, Anja Community Reserve, Madagascar Rainbow milkweed grasshopper, Anja Community Reserve, Madagascar
However, Anja is not just about the wildlife, the landscapes here are absolutely stunning and during your hike you will have the chance to take in amazing panoramic views of the region. To make the hike even more interesting, there is a bit of scrabbling over rocks involved (including abseiling down a steep rock face) but it is well worth it for the fantastic views. You will also see numerous tombs within the mountains that have been used by local Betsileo tribes over hundreds of years as part of the local tradition.
Mother and baby ring-tailed lemurs at Anja Community Reserve, Madagascar
The nearest town of Ambalavao has a good selection of hotels to stay in. I would highly recommend the nearby Betsileo Country Lodge, a small hotel with cosy little bungalows offering stunning views across the mountains and rice fields. It is just a 5 minute drive from Anja Community Reserve. They also serve great food here, all of which is locally sourced, making it a good lunch-stop if you are only passing by.
Do not forget to pop into Anja Community Reserve while on your travels around Madagascar. It is really worthwhile, not only for the fantastic encounters with wild ring-tailed lemurs and beautiful scenery, but you would really be helping out the local community who are passionate about the country's wildlife and are keen to conserve and protect it for future generations to enjoy. It is a great example of how humans and nature can happily co-exist.
Anja Community Reserve, Madagascar
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