Venturing to Madagascar
Having had Madagascar on our travel list for longer than we can remember, we were finally able to lock in a trip to this beautiful and surprising island!
So lets get two things out of the way early ...
We confess to some trepidation about this trip. Unfortunately the recent (popular) news out of the country (at least that we received in Oz) was slightly less than inviting. And it prompted many doubtful questions and comments from friends and family when announcing our next travel destination. Since arriving, we have learned that the negative media is costing the country valuable visitors, and we don't want you to be another lost opportunity.
We are here (as we speak) to tell you, if you can look past the headlines (which often serve an ulterior purpose, more on that later) and make your own, informed decision based on facts, not sensational reporting, you will discover, as we have, another of the worlds great treasures.
However, for those of you who follow our adventures looking for "luxury" travel inspiration, you will be (ever so slightly) disappointed this time around. The fact is, at present, what constitutes luxury in Madagascar is a little less than you may be accustomed. That is not to say you must rough it (though you certainly can if you want). It just means things will be a little more basic.
But please, don't let that put you off. There is so much to see and do and experience here, you will very quickly forget about wanting a plunge pool with a view. Just do as we do, ensure a slightly more adventurous trip is followed by a slightly more luxurious one ... Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island is locked in already :)
First stop, the Capital ...
The capital is Antananarivo, though it is universally known as "Tana" (you soon learn, most names in Madagascar are shortened, as their original form, be it city names, park names, peoples' names, are consistently long and difficult for us non-locals to pronounce) ...
The famous "Zebu" hard at work!
Others work just as hard!
... and it is ALIVE! Despite Madagascar being amongst the poorest nations on earth (we read that in in 2014 90% of the population lived on less than $2 US Dollars a day) you can be assured it is not through a lack of trying. We experienced an amazing, inspiring sense of self-reliance and a can-do attitude amongst the City's inhabitants.
The colours, the vibrancy, the activity, really did capture your attention and imaginations.
Andasibe-Mantadia National Park
Our first regional destination, to the east of Tana, lies the rain forests of Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, and this is also our first taste of the unique Madagascan wildlife. Sightings from a first evening walk are below ...
The Park is actually two parks combined as the name implies.
We began in Andasibe and we were extremely fortunate in our hunt for Lemurs.
The first find was an amazingly cute, and shy, Bamboo Lemur impossibly hidden from all but the most experienced Guides, in amongst the thick Bamboo bushes.
Then came Diadema Siffaka (or Golden Siffaka). The Group were high in the trees and very active making photography difficult. But we were very patient as is so often the trick when viewing wild life ... and after an extended wait with the Group, with other sightseers having come and gone, we were rewarded with a spectacular and intimate display.
Two adolescent males came down from the trees right in front of us and started putting on a show of play fighting seemingly all for our benefit. They rolled around within centimetres of us for, we guessed, twenty minutes, stopping every now and then to check us out, and then getting back to the job of playing and playing up! It really was a special experience.
To finish were the largest, and loudest, Lemurs, the Indri-Indri. Black and white with an amazing call that can be heard three kilometres away.
See upcoming posts for more about this enchanting island ...