....I realise it's been a few weeks but internet has been iffy
ahh Mada..c'est un beau pays, jolie, magnifique..les gens sont sympathique..
it has been a crazy, hectic, relaxing and amazing past few weeks. madagascar has very limited internet and it's been nice to have a break. the country is poor, but the sights amazing and the people so friendly. First hot shower in 8 days!!
when i arrived on sunday, i headed straight to Antsirabe, a town 4/5 hours south of Tananarive. My plan was to head West the following morning to Morondave on the coast. From there I was going to figure out how to see the Allee des Baobabs and the Tsingy Stone forests. So end up walking around Antsirabe during the day, taking a pousse pousse and visiting some artisan markets. I run into some french people (turns out they are 90% of the tourist population) and walk around with them and we have lunch. Then i'm waiting at the Taxi Brousse station (one of those minibuses that fits 12 people plus bags inside, then another number of bags/chicken/furniture/fruit/etc on the roof) and this guide approaches me and proposes a tour of 8 days. We sit for a while and finally I agree. 3 days descending the river on wooden boats, then 2 days in the Tsingy forests and the baobabs..sounds perfect!
I end up being with a french couple and their friend, another french man, a polish couple, a Finnish couple and a Belgian. We really had a blast on the river, camping on the banks, hanging out with our 'piroguier'and guides. typical day was waking up at 6, breakfast, pack up our things and head out on the river, after some hours, the guides had cooked in the pirogues and we stopped to eat then back on the water until we found a campsite. We saw lemurs, baobabs, birds, chameleons, bats, zebu's and lots of them, and i almost adopted a puppy
I have to say though, wow its hot here..the sun comes down so hard its like something i've never felt before. sunscreen and big hats required!
Once we arrived at the end of the river part of the trip, we loaded up in 4x4 land rovers and headed out on the road to Belo sur Tsiribine, the village on the Tsiribine river. the ambiance was very cool..
The next day we had 100km of eroded road to cover so we left most of our things at Belo to lighten to load on the roof and headed out with a million bottles of water, rhum arrange, and soda. I didn't realise how bumpy the ride really was going to be like, but it was a great time. we had to stop and rescrew the handles above the windows in the 4x4 because it was so bumpy.
There are a few different Tsingy's in Mada..Grand, Petit, D'Ankarana, tsingy rouge. They are in the west and north of mada and are very marking..The formations are quite unique, sharp and hot to walk through! We also go to crawl through the caves beneath them, which are untouched and cool.
Then off to the Allee des Baobabs..the ride had some amazing landscapes..fields of baobabs and old french cars everywhere..quite charming actually. We finished in Morondave at the beach for 2 nights which was relaxing.
Now after the trip, the french couple Virignie et Youri, their nurse friend Philippe, and the french man Erik and I decide to go back to Tananarive together. Philippe was heading North to work for 10 days in the bush and needed to catch a flight. Once in Tana, I met Arnaud, a french guy doing a tour du monde and we decide to travel up north together. Taxi Brousse ride of 20 hours from Tana to the island of Nosy Be..long but interesting and beautiful definitely. We stopped a few times, once because we had 'weak tires' and so we had to repump them, other times for food..
Nosy Be we stayed 4 nights..we ate some amazing food, visited Nosy Komba and got to play with lemurs, Nosy Tanekely and snorkeled. We were lucky enough to see a sea turtle and swam with her for a while which was pretty special. Another day we rented a scooter and drove around the island a little bit, past the YlangYlang plantations.
I've had good timing with Mada because of the season, fresh mangoes, lychees, pineapples and plums everywhere..eating fresh lychees off the branch is delicious! It's odd how the more developed a country becomes, the more it moves away from fresh, natural and local foods...people should follow the seasons
So after Nosy Be, we headed up north enroute to Diego we stopped at another Tsingy and stayed 2 nights right outside the park and had a great randonnee through the forest, saw a huge bat cave and stalagtites and stalagmites, bats and lemurs.
Now coming back into a city, even though its pretty small made us feel suffocated, so we stayed one night, then headed to Ramene, a fishing village some KMs out of town. This was definitely a good choice, the sunsets we saw from the hotel were just stunning..we had easy access to get to teh Emerald Sea and walk around the Bays in the area..
The day we leave I asked Alex, our main guy at the hotel that I wanted to fnd some vanilla. At any point in Mada if I just asked anyone for anything..5 minutes later its all arranged and figured out for me. The Malgash are very friendly that way. After a few amazing dasys, it was time for me to head back down south to Tana...but i had to prepare myself for 27 hours in Taxibrousse. Cost of the trip was 60,000 Ariary, which is about 28 dollars...a plane ticket is about 12 times more expensive and less of an adventure though it does save some time, if Air Mada doesn't end up delaying or cancelling the flight!
On our way down to Tana we did end up getting a flat tire, but since these Taxi B's typically roll in Caravans for long distances, it was quickly fixed and off we were. I can't saw how many Zebu's i've seen, but this animal is sacred for sure. They also eat it, and it's very tender meat.
Once back in Tana, I saw the Ville Haute, Ville intermediaire, and Ville Basse. Tana is built very spread out and has 12 hills so there's always a nice outlook point, especially near the Queen's palace.
I;m sad to have left, it was a great country and I recommend it to anyone for sure! the food is just delectable, the people friendly and the little things that make the country special leave an impression..