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Mongolia’s Flaming Cliffs and the Dinosaur Eggs of Chapman, the original Indiana Jones

The first fossilized dinosaur egg was discovered in 1859 by Frenchman Jean-Jacques Poech, but he mistakenly thought his finding was an egg of a giant bird.

Flaming Cliffs – Gobi Desert – Mongolia

In 1922 the most famous American explorer of all times started the very first motorized paleontology expedition with the help of the American Museum of Natural History. The explorer was Roy Chapman Andrews, and the expedition, also the largest of its time, was part of a series named Central Asiatic Expeditions.

Chapman departed from China and later entered Mongolia, finding many hardships and no bones.

Experience Chapman’s expedition in this short Museum of Natural History video

On a mid-July late afternoon, the expedition was lost in the Gobi desert. In the distance, he and his team saw a cliff that glowed with such an intense reddish light that it seemed it was on fire.

The locals told Chapman the place was called Bayansag. With nothing to lose, he directed his expedition to the site. Fate stepped in: His cameraman fell and rolled down the cliff finding multiple bone fossils right over the ground!

Chapman was amazed not only by the findings but the beauty of the site and penned it as Flaming Cliffs.

Sadly, the expedition had to leave the area but returned in 1923 to find not only many new species of dinosaurs but also the first recorded findings of dinosaur eggs.

The story of the expedition. The video uses original footage.

Today, Baynsag is known worldwide as Flaming Cliffs. Even though there is no digging being conducted in the area anymore, the few explorers that visit the site can walk on Chapman steps and see many remains of broken fossilized eggshells and bones.

Flaming Cliffs are located just an hour+ away from our high-end lodge in the Gobi desert, and of course, we plan all our excursions for the afternoon to experience the same impressive glow that attracted Chapman to the site.

The best way to experience Flaming Cliffs and learn more about Chapman and Mongolian Paleontology is to join one of our Mongolia Expeditions. You can check the details of the expedition by clicking here.

In the meantime, check the videos included in the article. Those are some of the videos that we share with our Mongolia guests.

You may also find interesting this book about Chapman’s Central Asiatic expeditions:

Sadly, fossil poaching is a big issue in Mongolia. Even though the problem persists, ecotourism has had an important positive impact on reducing it.

In the following video Dr. Bolortsetseg Minjin, from the Institute for the Study of Mongolian Dinosaurs, shares details about the history and current situation of Mongolian Paleontology.

Dr. Bolortsetseg Minjin of the Institute for the Study of Mongolian Dinosaurs shares details of the past, present, and future of Mongolian Paleontology

If you want to check what researchers are doing in the Goby today, check the following video by the American Museum of Natural History:

Learn what is happening today in the field of Paleontology in the Goby desert

New paths Expeditions Mongolia explorers visit the Flaming Cliffs walking on Chapman’s footsteps.

Mongolia is a very diverse destination and NPE has been exploring its most remote corners for over two decades. To learn all that Mongolia, the land of the eternal blue skies and Genghis Kahn offers visit:

https://www.npexpeditions.com/expeditions/mongolia-private-tour-expedition/

Saving Madagascar Baobabs one at a time

“I must see the giant Bao Babs!” This is a line we hear on almost every call we receive from explorers evaluating visiting Madagascar, the Island of the endemics.

Giant Baobabs during sunset excursion at Baobab Avenue – Morondava – Madagascar

The genus Adansonia -Babobabs- are found only in Madagascar (seven species), continental Africa (two species), the Arabian Peninsula (two species), and Australia (one species)

Of the seven species in Madagascar, six are endemic to the Island, and this includes the tallest and oldest of them all, the Giant Baobab, also known as Grandidier’s baobab (Adansonia grandidieri). I am sure you have seen them more than once in magazines and documentaries photographed or filmed at the famous Avenue of the Baobabs.

This iconic and beautiful destination is just an hour and a few minutes’ drive away from the charming coastal town of Morondava in western Madagascar.

Giant Baobab on the road to Kirindy National Park from Morondava – Madagascar

Baobabs are unique in many ways. Not only their shape, size, and age set them apart (They can live well over 1000 years!), but also their capacity to resist bush fires. It is common to see burned fields with the giants standing in the middle, unharmed in any discernible way.

Despite their impressive resistance and the fact that locals have very little use of their barks and none for their trunks, Giant Baobabs are an endangered species due to habitat loss and the lack of seed dispersers.

The road to Baobab Avenue

Yes, even though Baobabs in other parts of the world have animal species dispersing their seeds, in Madagascar, there is no known natural disperser.

But of course, they must have had them. It is currently believed that there were some large lemurs and giant tortoises that could have been eating the fruits of baobabs and later discarded the seeds over new areas. Those baobab natural seeds dispersers disappeared after the arrival of humans to the Island about 1000 years ago.

All NPE Madagascar safari expeditions include two visits to Baobab Avenue, one at sunset.

Today, multiple projects in Madagascar work on the reproduction and planting of Baobabs of all seven species.

These efforts started timidly a few decades ago, just around the same time that New Paths Expeditions initiated its safari operations in Madagascar. Gladly, about five years ago, such projects have multiplied considerably, a bet on a very distant future considering the growth rates of the species.

Baobab nursery at Baobab Avenue – Morondava – Madagascar

During New Paths expeditions in Madagascar, we include two visits to the Avenue of the Baobabs, one during the daytime, and another one at sunset time. All our explorers are invited, at no extra cost, to plant a giant Baobab in the area.

By the way, New Paths Expeditions offers a free return trip to Madagascar to all explorers that plant a Baobab, so they can see the tree they planted when its riches its prime, some 1000 years in the future 🙂

Plant a Baobab during an NPE Madagascar expedition – Return trip included 🙂

If you are interested in seeing the Giant Baobabs in their natural habitat, help in their reproduction, and observe in the wild 14 species of lemurs including the Indri-Indri -the largest of all lemurs, the Madame Berthe’s lemur -the smallest primate in the world, foosas, and many other endemics of the Island check our pioneering and award-winning expedition.

Click on the image above to check the Madagascar safari expedition tour details

We are glad to announce our recently improved itinerary has reduced even more the drives over bad roads thanks to a new charter flight from Berenty Reserve, the paradise for Ring-tailed and Dancing lemurs, to Morondava, the coastal town close to the Avenue of the Baobabs and door to Kirindy forest, the most threatened habitat on Earth.

All NPE Madagascar safari expeditions include two visits to Baobab Avenue, one at sunset.

Check the itinerary, and if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our 15 years of experience in Madagascar is always at your service.

https://www.npexpeditions.com/expeditions/madagascar-expedition/

The Top 10 Nature Parks to Experience Madagascar’s Incredible Wildlife

By in Articles, Madagascar Comments Off on The Top 10 Nature Parks to Experience Madagascar’s Incredible Wildlife

The ones you should not miss in a Madagascar Safari Tour

A jewel of the western Indian Ocean, the Island of Madagascar holds the World record in endemic species. Its treasures are conserved and protected by natural parks and reserves across the country. We gave our local naturalists the task of selecting the top 10 Nature Preserves in Madagascar to help you plan your dream wildlife adventure.

 

ring-tailed lemur madagascar tour

Ring-tailed Lemur

The Berenty Reserve

This small private reserve lies 56 miles west of Fort Dauphin in the unique spiny forest, also known as the spiny thickets. The De Heaulme family created it 70 years ago to protect 618 acres encompassing spiny forest and dry tamarind gallery woodland along the Mandrare River. The reserve is home to six species of lemur including the beautiful sauntering ring-tailed lemurs and “dancing” Verreaux Sifakas. You will also be able to observe the largest colony of Madagascar fruit bats in the south. Take a cultural break and enjoy a riveting museum depicting the life of the local tribe, the Antennary, and a re-built Antandroy village.

 

Verreaux's Sifaka Dancing Lemur of a Madagascar Tour

Verreaux’s Sifaka (Dancing Lemur)

The Nahampoana Reserve 

Formerly named the Garden of Acclimatization, the Nahampoana Reserve covers 123.5 acres and is located east of Fort Dauphin. Hiking trails wind through the many exotic plants that can be found on the island, including the Madagascar Pitcher Plant, Lemon Eucalyptus, and young Baobab Trees. Visitors will also enjoy the Triangle Palm Tree, which is unique to the Fort Dauphin area. Every lemur species native to the south of Madagascar lives in this park. Other exciting animals in the park include chameleons, tortoises, crocodiles and a wide variety of birds.

 

Fossa Kirindy Madagascar Safari

Fossa-Kirindy-Madagascar Safari

The Kirindy Reserve

Privately managed by a Swiss company, the Kirindy Reserve lies 31 miles northeast of Morondava. This protected area holds one of the most threatened habitats in Madagascar, the dry deciduous forest. Dominated by majestic baobab trees and a 46-foot high forest canopy, here you will find the giant jumping rat, the smallest known primate that hops like a miniature kangaroo, seven species of lemurs, and one of their main predators, the fossa. The remaining species here are nocturnal, such as the rare Coquerel’s giant mouse lemur, and five other lemur species. This magnificent forest also hosts several bats, tenrecs, mongooses, and over fifty reptile species. The flora is also quite unusual and contains several locally endemic plant species including baobabs that reach unbelievable heights.

 

Indri Indri Berenty Madagascar Tour

Indri Indri – Andasibe – Madagascar Tour

The Andasibe & Mantadia National Park

Southeast of the capital city, we find the Andasibe National Park, which is divided into two areas: the smaller Analamazaotra Special Reserve and the much larger Andasibe-Mantadia National Park. Andasibe-Mantadia contains a dense humid forest covered with moss, fern trees, and more than a hundred orchids species blooming between September and January. Deforestation and graphite mines have been a threat to the conservation of this area. The special guest here is the Indri Indri Lemur whose call can be heard in the early mornings and late afternoons. They are the largest living lemurs reaching up to 3 feet tall and are unique in being the only lemur with a short tail. Among the many unique reptiles in this national park, you will find the Madagascar tree boa.

 

Black Lemur Madagascar Tour Nosy Be

Black Lemur – Lokobe NR – Nosy Be

The Lokobe National Park

Found on the island of Nosy Be, the Lokobe National Park covers around 28.5 square miles of the Sambirano Forest. This humid evergreen forest is the last remaining natural habitat for the endangered black lemur. In this reserve, you can also find other nocturnal lemur species such as the gray-backed sportive lemur. Endemic birds such as the Madagascar pygmy kingfisher or the Madagascar Long-eared Owl can also be found here. Palms are the most widespread plant species as well as some precious woods. Keep your eye out for the rare black lemur; the females are particularly gorgeous with their deep red fur.

 

Tanikely Marine Reserve Nosy Be Madagascar Tour

Tanikely Marine Reserve

The Tanikely Reserve

Located in the south of Nosy Be, this island is a dream destination for biologists, underwater photographers and travelers with its untouched white beaches and beautiful weather. This tiny island is a wonderful diving spot where you can observe thousands of reef fish, sea turtles, and leaf fish of all colors. Between November and December, whale sharks feed near the island, while humpback whales can be seen migrating through the area during July and August.

 

The Tsingy de Bemaraha Natural Park

tsingy madagascar safari

Tsingy de Bemaraha Natural Park

The spectacular mineral forest of Tsingy de Bemaraha stands on the western coast of Madagascar. This protected area of 608 square miles has been designated a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO since 1990. Tsingy is Malagasy means “walking on tiptoes” and the nearly impenetrable labyrinth of limestone needles justifies this name. Canyons, gorges, undisturbed forests, lakes form the reserve and mangrove swamps with an astonishing richness of fauna and flora. Reaching this park involves a rough ten-hour drive, and in the park, the trails are difficult and demanding. It is recommended that you have hiking experience.

 

The Ranomafana National Park

Ranomafana National Park Madagascar Tour

Ranomafana National Park

Situated in eastern Madagascar, the Ranomafana (hot waters) National Park lays over a mountainous terrain of dense forests. This is the habitat of the endangered golden bamboo lemur, which was discovered by Dr. Patricia Wright in 1986. Wildlife is rich in this park, with many unique bats, mongoose, and bird species to be seen. The threatened crested ibis is one of the beautiful birds you might come across.

Apart from that, there is a wide array of reptiles, butterflies, and spiders. Prepare to be impressed by the flora in the Ranomafana National Park with its pretty orchids and medicinal plants.

 

Isalo National Park Madagascar Safari

Isalo National Park

The Isalo National Park

Located southwest of Antananarivo, the Isalo National Park protects 315 square miles of sandstone wildly eroded by wind and rain into bizarre ridges featuring primitive forms, impressive gorges, and canyons.

Here the flora is more impressive than the fauna; several local endemic plants, such as the elephant’s foot, have been discovered among the 500 species, which are found in Isalo. While the wildlife is not as prominent as other parks of the country, there are still many species worth seeing, including the ring-tailed lemurs and the brown lemurs. Keep your eyes peeled for the many species of birds, such as the rare Benson’s Rock-thrush and the knob-billed duck.

 

sakalava weaver Madagascar Tour

Zombitse & Vohlbasia Natural Park

The Zombitse & Vohlbasia Natural Park

Based in the southwest of Madagascar, the Zobitse and Vohlbasia Natural Park covers 140 square miles of dry forest, marshes, and savannahs. This park personifies the biggest environmental threat in Madagascar, deforestation, with only a patch of protected forest remaining amongst the devastation. The patch gives shelter biodiversity divided into three different sections: Zombitse, Vohibasia, and Vohimena Isoky. Zombitse-Vohibasia acts as a transitional zone between the dry and humid forests of Madagascar. As with all of the countries beautiful parks, there are many lemurs, bright birds, and picturesque orchids.

Madagascar’s natural parks reserve the most endemic, rare and remarkable wildlife. Every day brings new fauna and flora encounters, it seems never to end! In most of the parks, wildlife is not afraid of humans, making your experience rich with animal encounters. There is no other place in the world like Madagascar for natural history expeditions and wildlife photography.

Download the Madagascar Safari Tour Booklet
The best of these parks
are included in
NPE’s award-winning
Madagascar Expedition:
the ideal Madagascar safari tour

Download the Madagascar Expedition Booklet now!

The Dancing Lemurs (Verreaux’s Sifakas) of Madagascar

By in Articles, Madagascar Comments Off on The Dancing Lemurs (Verreaux’s Sifakas) of Madagascar

 

dancing-lemur-verreaux-sifakaMadagascar, the Island of endemics, holds the record of endemic species. Of course, Lemurs are the most famous animals that inhabit the Island and the ones most travelers search for during a Madagascar Safari.

Of the 101 species and subspecies of Lemurs that exist (The number is approximated since scientists are still debating the taxonomy of the animal) one that most visitors expect to see in the wild during a Madagascar tour is the Verreaux’s Sifaka Lemur, also known as “dancing lemur”. They obtain this name thanks to the way they move on the earth, a very choreographed way of “walking” which is quite amusing to observe.

Details of the Dancing Lemurs

Their range includes the wet tropical rainforests to the dry spiny forests of Madagascar.

The Verreaux’s Sifaka Lemur is medium in size when compared to other species of lemurs and is the only one with hands and feet slightly webbed.

Their white body fur, black face, and big eyes make them quite attractive. They have a very long tail, up to 24 inches (longer than their body size!), that helps their balance when leaping from tree to tree, and when “dancing” on the ground.

They are about 18 inches in height when they reach maturity, and can weigh from 7 to 8 pounds with the males usually being larger than the females. They have dental differences that set them apart from other species of Lemurs.

The Verreaux’s Sifaka Lemur lives in mix groups of up to 12 individuals; 2 or 3 males, 2 or 3 females and their offsprings.

Dancing Lemur Verreaux´s Sifaka MadagascarThe female is sexually mature around the age of 3 and can have 1 (most of the time) to 2 babies per litter. The young hold on to the mother’s belly for 3 to 4 weeks and then ride on her back. It is entirely independent at seven months. Their average lifespan is 18 years.

They usually feed themselves twice a day; once in the early morning and then again in the late afternoon. They will rest during the remains of the day. They mostly eat leaves but also a variety of items including twigs, bark, nuts, and fruits.

A Vulnerable Species

The beautiful Verreaux’s Sifaka Lemur is a primate that has a grim future. Nowadays they are categorized as being vulnerable because of the quick destruction of their natural habitat that represents the major threat to them and all the lemurs in Madagascar. A good way to support this and other endangered species of Madagascar is visiting the Island. New Paths Expeditions includes in its Madagascar Expeditions the national parks and private reserves that have proven their conservation efforts success.

 

Download the Madagascar Safari Tour Booklet
Would you like to learn more about Madagascar,
the dancing lemurs and how to visit the island?

Download the free Madagascar Expedition Booklet now!

Meet the Indri Indri, the largest Lemur (Endemic to Madagascar)

By in Articles, Madagascar Comments Off on Meet the Indri Indri, the largest Lemur (Endemic to Madagascar)

Indri Indri Madagascar Expedition Safari Tour

The marvelous Indris are a large species of Lemur -in fact, the biggest Lemur of them all, and like all Lemurs, they are believed to have come to the island of Madagascar from Africa around 50 million years ago.

Since there were no other primates to compete with, Lemurs soon adapted to live in a variety of habitats, producing a diverse range of species. Let’s remember that Madagascar holds the world record of endemic species, with 90% of the flora and fauna existing only in the Island.

Indri Indri Lemurs are arboreal animals meaning that they spend the majority of their lives eating, sleeping and mating high up in the trees.

As we already mentioned, Indris are the largest of all living Lemur species today. Their average height tends to be between 23 to 32 inches tall (Some recorded specimens reached over 40 inches!) a have a tail of just 1 to 2 inches (this is one of the main differences with all other Lemurs, which have tails that are around the same length as their bodies). The Indri has a beautiful dense coat of silky black fur with a varying number of white patches, depending on the geographic region (they tend to be darker in the northern parts of the Island). Their long hind legs aid them in leaping up to 33 foot between vertical branches in the forest!

The Indri is a social animal, living in small family units of between 2 to 6 individuals; that consist of a male and female pair with their young. They are unique among primates because it is the females who are the dominant ones.

Indri Indri Madagascar Expedition Safari Tour

Lemurs communicate through a series of eerie wailing calls both to unite families and also to mark their territory, which can be heard up to 1,2 miles away. They also have an excellent sense of smell that gives them the possibility to avoid confrontation with predators.

Female Indris reach sexual maturity at around 8 or 9 years old, and they have one baby each 2 or 3 years. The Indri infant clings onto the belly of it’s mother for the first few months of life when it then moves to her back. They get independent at the age of 8 months but usually remain with their mother until they are 2 or 3 years old.

Although adult Indris have been known to get well into their twenties, most live for 15 to 18 years.

The Indri is a herbivorous and diurnal animal, meaning that it spends most of its life looking for food during the daytime. Their diet is based on 32 species of leaves along with fruits, seeds, and flowers.

Although the exact number of Indris inhabiting Madagascar today is unknown, there are those who estimate the population at 10,000 individuals left in the wild. Other estimates are more concerning, claiming that there may be as few as 1,000 specimens left only. They are listed as an endangered species.

Indri Indri Madagascar Expedition Safari Tour

Despite the last, the Indri Indris are easily found at the Andasibe National Park, just three hours away from Antananarivo. During the New Paths Expeditions Wild Madagascar Expedition, we go on Lemur Safaris every day, and of course, we spend time looking for the Indri Indri. During our ten years exploring the Island of endemics, all our groups have been successful in observing this species in the wild. One can never forget the excitement generated by photographing Indris, and listening to their amazing, strong calls.

A journey through Madagascar is all about intimate encounters with wildlife, such as the Indri Indri. If you love wildlife and world exploration, we invite you to join us on a virtual exploration of the Islands of Endemics.

Download the Madagascar Safari Tour Booklet
Would you like to know more about Madagascar,
the Indri Indri and how to visit the island?

Download the free Madagascar Expedition Booklet now!

Magellanic Penguins from Patagonia May be the Most Loyal Species

By in Articles, Patagonia Comments Off on Magellanic Penguins from Patagonia May be the Most Loyal Species
Magellanic Penguins - Patagonia - New Paths Expeditions

Magellanic Penguin couple looking at the sunset after a very active day. © Jorge Salas-New Paths Expeditions

The discoveries come following a 30-year investigation where specialists tagged 50,000 individuals.

Scientists also observed the “divorce” of couples, and findings suggest that the cause may be the inability to produce offspring. In such cases, Penguins looked for new life partners. Others believe that personality incompatibility may also be a cause.

Magellanic Penguin - New Paths Expeditions

Magellanic Penguin © Jorge Salas-New Paths Expeditions

An important finding of this research is the life span of the relationship of individual couples. Beforehand penguin relationships were supposed to last only ten years. The main finding of the recent research is a couple whom relation lasted over 16 years. These makes Magellanic Penguin the most loyal wild species.

Every year Magellanic Penguins depart on solo journeys of 200 000 miles. When southern summer arrives, they return to their nest. They find each other by the use of a unique call. The researchers utilized satellite following to distinguish the developments of the feathered creatures, demonstrating the extraordinary voyages, up to 2000 000 miles, that they take every winter up north, to the hotter waters of Brazil in the Atlantic, and Peru in the Pacific Ocean.

Magellanic Penguin - New Paths Expeditions

Magellanic Penguin © Jorge Salas-New Paths Expeditions

In the wake of rejoining and mating, the female typically lays two eggs. Couple members will alternate to guard the eggs while the other goes to the ocean to fish.

After they incubate, the parents spend a month tending to their young before taking off to their wintering territory.

Patagonia, a territory divided between Chile and Argentina, have the biggest population, with 1 700 000 estimated nests.

It is important to mention that their numbers have declined since the turn of the century because of oil contamination and falling fish numbers.

Other species that mate for life include Albatrosses, Vultures, and Angelfish.

New Paths Expeditions explores Southern Patagonia in detail with its Epic Patagonia Expedition. An award-winning itinerary that includes Megallanic Penguin colony visits during nesting time.

The expedition crosses Tierra del Fuego to encounter King Penguins and interact with Argentinian Gauchos and then boards the Estella Australis ship and navigate the Beagle Channel to Cape Horn. Then sails the fjords of the Darwin Mountain Range and the Straight of Magellan to Punta Arenas, from where you drive to Torres del Paine National Park and lodge for four nights at the upscale Explora hotel, the best location in the park for a complete exploration of its highlights and hidden treasures. Horseback riding, trekking, birdwatching, puma search and many other activities are included. Open bar during the Australis Navigation and while at Explora hotel. Extensions to Easter Island, El Calafate, Perito Moreno, El Chalten, Santiago de Chile and Buenos Aires are available.

Patagonia-tilted-mirror
Learn more about
Magellanic Penguins from Patagonia
with New Paths Expeditions

Download the free Patagonia Expedition Booklet now!