The spontaneous decision to stay in Ambalavao was partly aimed at visiting Anja. Soon after walking away from the taxi brousse, we talk to a tuk-tuk driver, and make an appointment to take us to Anja the next morning. We start off soon after sunrise, and the scenery is more beautiful than the day before, if only because there are still layers of fog lying in the landscape, and the big boulders near Anja are topped by small clouds. When we reach Anja, our guide finds us a spotter, who will walk ahead of us trying to find wildlife. Our main reason to visit Anja is the ring-tailed lemurs, of which we see plenty - I will talk about those later. Apart from the cute animals, the reserve at the feet of the big rocky mountains, also called the Three Sisters, has plenty to show.
Our spotter points out several chameleons, and we observe the animals as they carefully walk down thin branches. Seeing them eat an insect with their long tongues is quite impressive. The lake near Anja is untouched by any wind and the perfect mirror for the surrounding landscape. Then, walking and sometimes jumping uphill, we come across caves in which lemurs (and other animals) sleep, and scramble our way up the boulders for better views. The guide also points out traditional Betsileo family tombs, which are still used today. They are often higher up on boulders; ropes are used to hoist the body to its final resting place. The caves, now mostly used by animals, were once used by the Betsileo in times of war with the Merinas. Indeed, some of them are pretty big.
When we are back down, where our tuk-tuk driver is still waiting with his friend, we tell them we decided to walk back to Ambalavao to better enjoy the landscape. After having a closer look at the houses of Anja, with green balconies with lemurs and zebus carved out, we take the main road up north. The guys at the police checkpoint take their time to copy our passport details in their notebook and we wonder what will ever happen with that information. The walk turns out to be a great way to discover the region: we salute the locals, cause a small uproar when we visit a village to buy some water and snacks, have a spontaneous photoshoot at a bridge, with one girl coming on a bike just to have her picture taken, and end up dancing in a small church from which we heard the singing before we even saw the church. One village has a funeral, the next seems in a festive mood. When we finally reach Ambalavao, our feet are tired, but we are happy we walked all the way back.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Anja (). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Anja.
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