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Why a Wonder: Beautiful rainforest filled with photogenic wildlife surrounds the rural community of Andasibe. Highlights include indri (the largest lemur in Madagascar) and the colorful Parson’s chameleon.

Parson's chameleon are colorful and photogenic.
Parson's chameleons are colorful and photogenic.

Where: Andasibe is a four-hour drive from Madagascar’s capital city of Antananarivo.

When: April through November is the best time to visit. January, February, and March have the most rain.

The indri is Madagascar's largest lemur.
The indri is Madagascar's largest lemur.

Photography: You have several options for photographing the forest around Andasibe, including Andasibe-Mantadia National Park as well as several private reserves. Morning hikes are most likely to yield views of indri and a chance to photograph them as they call to each other (the song of the indri is hauntingly beautiful, almost sounding like whale song). You can also do a night hike, offering a chance to photograph nocturnal species, including frogs and the diminutive mouse lemur (the smallest primate in the world). Local guides are available for hire; your tour company or lodging can help you make arrangements. Hikes in the forest range from moderately easy to difficult, and trails can sometimes be slippery, muddy, and steep.

Species you might see include indri, the incredibly well-camouflaged leaf-tailed gecko, common brown lemur, diademed sifaka, Parson’s chameleon, giraffe weevil, brown lemur, mouse lemur, and a variety of other lemurs.

Common brown lemurs are frequently spotted.
Common brown lemurs are frequently spotted.

Wildlife can sometimes be distant, and sometimes very close, so lenses ranging from wide-angle to long telephoto will be useful. Consider also bringing a macro lens for small subjects such as giraffe weevils. Expect low light when photographing wildlife, as it can often be quite dark at the bottom of the forest; lenses with bright maximum apertures (like f/2.8) can help you avoid extremely high ISOs. Also consider bringing flash and/or a portable LED panel to provide supplemental illumination for wildlife subjects (flash works best for distant and fast-moving subjects, while an LED panel is great for small, stationary subjects such as chameleons). These accessories are also useful for night photography, although you can get great results just using a flashlight.

Can you spot the leaf-tailed gecko? Hint: look left!
Can you spot the leaf-tailed gecko? Hint: look left!

Indri and other lemur species are often high in the trees, making it difficult to find a clear view and to avoid having a bright sky behind your subject. Sometimes, however, lemurs come down to visit the lower branches of trees or even the forest floor making photography much easier. Patience, persistence, and a willingness to get creative with your positioning are all essential to making effective photos.

Learn More: This site has some useful information about visiting Andasibe and finding a local guide:

© Ian Plant

This post sponsored by Calibrite.

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