Accommodation, Eastern Madagascar

Palmarium Lodge

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Located on the edge of longest canal system in the world; the Pangalanes Canal, the Palmarium Beach Lodge is a simple but comfortable lodge, ideal for families and those keen to see the wonderful aye aye. The lodge is located inside the private Le Palmarium Reserve which means nest of dreams in Malagasy.

The lodge consists of very simple wooden bungalows with solid built en suite bathrooms and mosquito nets located above the beds on the shore of Lake Ampitabe. The bungalows have shared verandas with hammocks and are only a short walk from the lake’s sandy beach and are backed by a private littoral forest reserve, home to a wide range of endemic palms.

The restaurant has a very fresh menu as much of the food comes from the local market and the adjacent main lodge building has a small but comfortable lounge area and bar. The lodge is only accessible by boat and is around 4 hours total travel time from Andasibe including a 1-hour boat ride from Manambato village. Due to its remote location, electricity is only available for limited hours only (between 6 – 11 pm each evening) and there is no Wi-Fi, phone reception or facilities to use Credit or Debit Cards at the lodge.

The Le Palmarium Reserve protects around 50 hectares of coastal littoral rainforest and provides a refuge for a good selection of native wildlife. The wildlife highlight is the population of currently eight aye ayes that live on a small forested islet on the edge of the lake. The aye ayes live wild on the island and forage naturally, but they are also offered coconuts by the local rangers each evening at a designated viewing area affording excellent eye levels.

Although the setting is a little less natural, this excursion offers a very rare and special opportunity to view these mysterious, elusive and fascinating nocturnal lemurs at uniquely close quarters. Flash photography is not allowed, but the local rangers provide sensitive illumination with torches for a great view and some low light photography and video of these remarkable primates. This is by far the easiest location to see and photograph a semi-wild aye aye in Madagascar.

The reserve is also home to numerous diurnal species of lemurs including black-and white ruffed lemur, indri, crowned lemur, black lemur and Coquerel’s sifaka. However, most of these species have been introduced from outside of their natural range and some have also hybridised. Most of these lemurs are very inquisitive and fully habituated, so will often approach to within a few feet in the hope of some banana handouts. Many of the introduced species can be seen in their natural habitat elsewhere in Madagascar, but the site is ideal for keen photographers, looking to take more artistic and abstract images and those keen to see an aye aye.

There are also many reptiles and beautiful endemic frogs to search for as well the superb diversity of orchids, carnivorous pitcher plants, palms and pandanus plants to admire. If spending a few days in the area a boat trip to explore more of canal and lake network is another highlight. As the trails are flat and easy going and the wildlife very easy to view, this is an ideal location for families with young children too.

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Palmarium Beach Lodge -18.605185, 49.213421 Palmarium Beach LodgeView

Facilities

Simple private bathrooms, a large restaurant and lounge with limited use of electricity only between 6 and 11 pm in the evenings. So bring plenty of spare camera batteries.

Local Wildlife

This is the easiest location in Madagascar to see the wonderful nocturnal aye aye. There are eight living semi-wild on a small forested islet on the edge of Lake Ampitabe where coconuts are provided for them each evening by the local rangers. The boat trip to see them departs the lodge at 17:30 ecah evening with a 15 minute boat ride to the iselt, followed by a short walk with a few steps. The whole excursion usually only lasts one hour and is shared by all guests at the Lodge, so can be busy at peak times. Up to four different aye aye have been seen feeding together at the same time, but usually there will only be one or two visible at the same time. Flash photography is not allowed, so a tripod and camera settings suitable for the low light conditions of torchlight only is recommended.

Other wildlife includes the huge tail-less indri and vocal and acrobatic black-and white ruffed lemur although please note these and other diurnal lemur species here have been introduced.Nocturnal Eastern woolly lemurs, tenrecs and a wide range of reptile and frog species can also be found in the reserve as well including the giant hog-nosed snake (Leioheterodon madagascariensis) and blue-back reed frog (Heterixalus madagascariensis). Birdlife is not very diverse but includes the France’s sparrowhawk, Madagascar green sunbird and crested coua.

Optional Activities

Enjoy a boat trip to explore more of the lake and canal system.

Enjoy walking the trails, observing and photographing the lemurs and perhaps swimming in the Lake.

Ian Loyd

Area Specialist

If you have any questions regarding our Madagascar tours, please feel free to contact me on +44 (0)1803 866965

It was an excellent trip. I saw a lot of a wonderful country and would like to return. The Malagasy people are lovely. Friendly and hospitable throughout. Everything was done to ensure we were happy and comfortable. Excellent service and wildlife. Wildlife highlights: mating fosas, close encounters with indri, diademed sifaka and ringtailed lemurs above us as we picniced below.

Ms C G - Wiltshire