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23. Sep, 2007

Madagascar Exploration

Madagascar Exploration

Madagascar is an incredible country full of surprises from spiny forests to rain forests (which are disappearing fast), stunning beaches, wonderful friendly people, and baobabs to tropical islands. We were only there for three weeks and felt like we had an adventure of a lifetime! We started far south in Fort Dauphin, then went on to explore the spiny forests and rainforests of Andohela. We then went out to the beautiful windswept beaches of the Lakora peninsula. For a complete difference in scenery and culture we flew to the centre to the capital Antananarivo (Tana). We  then went far North to Baia de Sakalava and then journeyed in our epic mini 4X4 from cold and fresh Amber Mountain to boiling Ankarana reserve. We ended our trip in tropical paradise on the tiny Sakatia Island. From our little but amazing  taste of this incredible African Island, we are dying to go back to explore more…might be next on the list:)

          

 

22. Sep, 2007

Madagascar – Sakatia Island

Madagascar – Sakatia Island

Our final cherry on top to this incredible trip was finding tropical paradise at tiny Sakatia Island. We had started off the day in a frantic flurry arriving in Nosy By and being accosted by taxi drivers to take us to a hotel. We decided to move away from the craziness of Nosy By and take a little journey to the island of Sakatia.

We managed to get there on a little canoe. Someone arrived to fetch us on the beach, loaded up our stuff and I sat like “lady Muck” on top of all the bags as we were paddled to the island.

We found a perfect spot, a little rustic camp where we had a tiny wooden bungalow on the beach.

Crystal clear warm waters, beautiful beaches, friendly people

What a perfect way to end off this incredible journey!

 

20. Sep, 2007

Amber Mountain and Ankarana Adventure in a little yellow taxi

Amber Mountain and Ankarana Adventure in a little yellow taxi

Our epic adventure in a little yellow taxi all began at the market to stock up for the next few days ahead

Did you know little yellow taxis have 4X4 capabilities – they can do ANYTHING!

Amber Mountain was so different from the other reserves in Madagascar. Being so high up, it was quite chilly and we enjoyed a few days exploring the cool forests and discovering the tree, plants, birds, butterflies and interesting little animals…

We experienced the joys of night walks, discovering sleeping chameleons and little mouse lemurs

The chameleons in Madagascar are incredible from the smallest chameleons to the largest chameleons in the world

This is my favourite!!

“I’m very grumpy and not in the mood for this photo!!”

Ankarana was completely different, hot hot hot!

The rock formations, wildlife and vegetation are incredible

We had a long walk and finally reached our destination to discover Lac Vert – the green volcanic crater lake – pretty impressive!

After a long day…

16. Sep, 2007

Madagascar – Baia de Sakalava

Madagascar – Baia de Sakalava

Beautiful windswept Baia de Sakalava. Baobab country on one side, windswept beaches on the other and mangrove swamps teeming with birdlife (and mosquitoes).

 

We even had little lemur visitors outside our bungalow!

13. Sep, 2007

Madagascar – Antananarivo (Tana)

Madagascar – Antananarivo (Tana)

Tana is an interesting city which I would describe as an African city with a French touch or a dilapidated French city with an African influence…

Wonderful markets and French style food

11. Sep, 2007

Madagascar Lokaro Peninsula

Madagascar Lokaro Peninsula

This beautiful hidden treasure in Madagascar was our little treat of the trip

This was a little secret cove that we saw in the distance and bundu-bashed our way to get to! We felt like heroes when we finally got there!

Feast at camp Pirate!

Beautiful places to discover in the area

10. Sep, 2007

Madagascar – Tsimela and Andohahela National Parks

Madagascar – Tsimela and Andohahela National Parks

One of our biggest adventures of the trip was renting a small red road motorbike to head down to some of the Southern National Parks, Tsimela and Andohahela. We were in search of spiny forests, rainforests, limas, chameleons and whatever other weird and wonderful things we could discover along the way! With a small backpack and tent on my back, water strapped onto the sides and a bunch of bananas on the back, we set off onto into the Madagascan potholes… 

The surrounding change quickly from wetlands and rice paddies to dry spiny forests. In my diary I described it as “entering into Jurassic Park land”

We had a wonderful guide Charles, who would start every sentence with a statement and then follow it with WHY and then a LOOONG pause “This is a medicinal plant….WHY?…………because…..” Charles little assistant came along and didn’t speak much English. All he could say very enthusiastically as he waved “hello” to us was “Go to sleep”:)

Charles asked us if we could take a picture of him in his “office” – one of the most beautiful offices I have ever seen!

We discovered all kinds of interesting plants, flowers and the most magnificent pools

We camped in the reserve that evening and woke up early to go lemur spotting – our first lemurs of the trip!!

After the Spiny forest, we decided to go in search of the Rain forest section of the park. There was a road clearly marked however it did not show that no-one had used this “road” in the last few year. What started as a road very quickly turned to sand and after a hairy sandy trip which did not seem to be getting us anywhere, we eventually hit the end of the road which was in a small village.

We could have been aliens from another world arriving in this town on our little red bike with our big helmets, a tent on the back. We were surrounded and everyone stared. We tried to ask where we were, everyone smiled and when we repeated that we would like to get to Anhohahela, everyone laughed. We discovered the “thumbs up” is not a universal sign.

Finally an elderly lady of the village took control of the situation and we were assigned a “guide”. Well that’s what we assumed when a small guy with a very large panga came up to us smiling and indicating to follow him. Was he going to take us to the forest or to the “Pot”?

 The forest we hoped!

06. Sep, 2007

Madagascar Fort Dauphin

Madagascar Fort Dauphin

Fort Dauphin was one of our favourite spots. It felt largely undiscovered by tourists and we found new and amazing places every day. Gorgeous beaches, great surfing, lots of friendly and welcoming people and children. It is a very poor area and there are lots of very polluted areas but the overall feel of Fort Dauphin is wonderful.

 Arriving in the dark, we woke as it got light to discover that we had arrived in Paradise! Libanoa Bay is on of the most beautiful spots in Fort Dauphin and our little spot in Lavasoa had a stunning view over the bay.

We made friendly quickly and had lots of tour guides around the small town!  

We were never alone on the beaches but the children are amazing, they have so much fun and loved discovering how they could SEE underwater.  

 

There are some great waves in the area. One of our frustrating moments was when we decided to venture out to find the EPIC waves in Venani Bay on the other side of town. After a very long and bumpy taxi ride there with both surf boards on the roof, we unloaded everything, got all kitted up and then realised that we had left our surfboard fins behind! Oh dear…good walk and view of the waves:)

We did however have some great surfing experiences. Adrian has some wonderful dawn parol surfs and I even managed to catch a few waves in the sunset. Warm water and no wetsuits, that’s my kind of surfing!!  

 

We climbed up Pique St Louis to get a beautiful 360 degree view over the bays. The mountain is an interesting contrast of triangle palm trees to dry veldbos. Hot hot walk up but well worth the view at the top!  

It was quite difficult to leave such a wonderful place and we look forward to going back…