Lions, elephants, buffalo, leopards, and rhinos. Africa is full of exciting animals. And there are many places you can go to try to see most, if not all, of them fairly close together. But some animals are harder to seek out. Aye-aye, indri, and dwarf lemurs. Fossas. Tenrecs. Mantella and tomato frogs. They’re all endemic to Madagascar. Up to 90 percent of the creatures here aren’t found anywhere else on Earth, making the world’s fourth largest island a land of biological aberrations. And a very exciting–and slightly nerve-racking–place to explore.
Madagascar broke off from Africa and drifted into the Indian Ocean long before any of these animals existed. Much of the country remains undeveloped, leaving the species in their natural habitats and travel still a difficult proposition. Being an island though, one of the best ways to get around is the water. Which gives you the perfect opportunity to check out Nosy Komba, a smaller island just off the coast of northern Madagascar.
The volcanic island is called Lemur Island for its abundance of black lemurs. Daytrippers come just to see the black males and the reddish-brown females. You’ll also find chameleons, tavy farms, sandy beaches, and men fishing in pirogues. And the Tsara Komba Lodge. Built into a steep hillside, the lodge is surrounded by a tropical garden full of parrots and hummingbirds, vetiver and citronella, and vanilla. The lodge’s roofs are made of paddle-shaped Ravinala leaves. Verandas overlook the beach and the clear water. Grande Terre and the Tsaratanana Mountains are in the distance. Your senses are in overdrive. It’s like your own little Garden of Eden.
Hike through the island. You’ll hear lemurs wailing through the baobab trees. Snorkel with giant sea anemones, platax, and red starfish. Go troll fishing for African red snapper and crevalle jacks. Watch humpback whales cresting at the Baie des Russes, sea turtles laying eggs on Nosy Iranja, and giant land tortoises doing–well, not much of anything–on Nosy Mamoko. And watch the sun set from an ancient crater on the highest point of Nosy Be.
You’ll wake up each morning believing you dreamed the previous day. Until you see little black eyes peering at you through your lodge’s window. There’s no way you could dream up Lemur Island.