Wildlife, pure nature and amiable people
Throwback Thursday to 2006, when we spent 3 weeks in Madagascar.
Back then, all the hipster newly weds chose destinations like the Seychelles and Maldives for their honeymoon, but seeing how expensive a eight to ten day trip to one of these destinations was, we quickly decided to prefer a three weeks journey to another destination.
Maybe Australia or New Zealand....but that's a long haul flight.
Then Madagascar came to my mind . . . and was not get off anymore.
Madagascar was our honeymoon destination I if there is one thing I regret, it's the fact that we were not able to return within the past ten years.
Madagascar is an amazing huge island in the Indian Ocean on the east coast of Africa.
It's the fourth largest island in the world.
Australia being rated as continent, there would be the largest island Greenland, followed by New Guinea, Borneo and Madagascar.
Madagascar has a unique wildlife due to the fact that is has been isolated geographically and people are more than
map ©google maps
Antananarivo - lovely capital
We went by train from Luxembourg to Paris, took a flight with Air Madagascar to Antanarivo, where we stayed @ Hotel Royal Palissandre, located on a hillside between the upper town Andohalo and the lower town Analakely.
This Hotel is centrally located and we enjoyed the lovely view from the rooms & terrace.
The rooms were reasonably spacious, breakfast and dinner were fine and there's even a spa ans swimming pool.
Antananarivo definitely is a lovely capital, it's not too big an it's manageable.
Yes it's also dirty, there's poverty and the air is full of exhaust gas (not everywhere though), but we really liked visiting Antananarivo.
We soon got to know how lovely madagascan people are, happy, easy going and friendly.
We also soon learned some malagasy words and expressions, like:
'mura mura' meaning to take it slow, relax
'vazaha' that's us: a stranger / foreigner.
But though being 'vazaha' we were treated friendly and warmly everywhere, and though there's poverty all around, people are no beggars.
We arrived @ the airport around 4 a.m. and had a room at our disposal for day use at half rate.
We stayed for just one night and left then for a three day excursion to explore nature, wildlife and rainforests. We had booked a personal guide and chauffeur with a jeep and off we went.
We were allowed to leave our luggage at the hotel, so that we only had to take a backpack with some clothes.
After returning from our excursion we stayed for another two nights at Hotel Royal Palissandre and retrieved our luggage and explored Antananarivo.
visiting the inner districts of the capital by walking is easy manageable and there was not a single moment we would have felt insecure or not at ease. People are lovely and there are some attractions to see, but I think visiting Antananarivo is more about people and feelings.
If you read some of our earlier posts, you know that we LOVE to walk for miles and miles, hours and hours, so what may seems normal and manageable to us, might be too much of a distance for others, but believe me walking through the streets of Antananarivo is really not a big deal.
From our hotel we had direct view over the city and Analakely market wich we visited several times.
We also visited Soarano railway station which thrones at the end of Independence Avenue, headed to the presidential palace where it is strictly forbidden to take pictures even from the outside or gates and continued to the lake Anosy. Lake Anosy is an artificial lake with a little island which you can reach by an isthmus, on the island is a french-buit memorial for the fallen soldiers of WWI. We rounded the lake, walked up and down the stairs in the old town and strolled around narrow streets and wide places.
We also booked a local cab for a day to visit the Royal Hill of Ambohimanga, an ancient royal city and burial site outside Antananarivo, as well as the region.
Maybe I'll tell you about our cab adventure
in another post, but believe me,
this little excursion of 25 km and return really took us a day.
Wildlife, nature and rainforests
We left Antananarivo to visit the countryside, wildlife an rainforests.
We had a guide and chauffeur which made it an comfortable and easy journey, though honestly these curvy roads with sloping downhill edges and burned truck remnants were a bit frightening.
We drove est to the highlands, had some stops to savor the scenic views and uniqueness, but unfortunately too to witness some less positive facts, like children and mothers working in a quarry.
Our first major stop was to visit Peyrieras reptile reserve, showing species including chameleons, frogs, reptiles, butterflies and moths, insects, crocodiles, Madagascan fruit bat, Madagascan millipede and more . . .
We continued to Andasibe and checked in at the Vakona Forrest Lodge, later we had a nightly visit at the Périnet Analamazaotra nature reserve to observe nocturnal lemures.
The next day we went for a hike through the rainforest in National Park Mantadia to an altitude of 1260m.
In the afternoon we visited the private Vakona reserve with the lemur island where lemurs are very trustful and approach humans without fear as you can see on the pictures.
The last day of this trip we visited Périnet Analamazoatra Reserve and went for a two our hike through the rainforest before driving back to Antananarivo.
Morondava and the baobabs
The following day we left Antananarivo again by plane to go to Morondava on the west coast of Madagascar.
We had booked a lovely hotel with bungalows called 'Chez Maggie' and were supposed to take a flight to St. Mary island one week later.
We wanted to visit the Baobabs and the Tsingy National Park, but soon after arrival we were told that the Tsingy National Park was difficult to reach do to the terrible conditions of the roads after the rainfalls and that they could not guarantee we'd make the trip in three or four days.
So we stayed in Morondava and spend most of our time reading and relaxing, walking on the beach or taking a walk through the city.
We also made a trip to the baobabs and enjoyed the sunset between these majestic upside-down like trees and some ancient malagsy tombs.
There are different legends on the baobab trees, one would be the legend of God Thora who did not like a baobab growing in his garden, so he plucked it out and threw it over the walls of paradise. the baobab landed on Earth below, but upside down and continued growing with the roots upwards.
It was a wonderful day out, seeing the wide fields, people, children and farmers, villages, the ancient tombs and of course huge baobabs, the 'baobab des amoureux' (lover's baobab - two entwined baobab tree trunks) and the sunset.
Definitely to be recommended!
St.Mary's isle (Nosy Boraha) - like in heaven
The fourth part of our stay in Madagascar, after
- rainforests & Andasibe
- Morondava & baobabs
was St Mary isle located on the north-east coast of Madagascar.
St Mary Isle, now officially Nosy Boraha, is only about 50 to 60 km long and about 5km wide with fantastic white beaches,
One day we walked on our own through the forest to Madame Vavate's place uphill. You have a nice view over the airport and the 'île aux nattes' (Nosy Nanto) a small island on the southern end of Nosy Boraha, and can discover wildlife, flora and fauna. Snakes, big spiders and orchids is mainly what we discovered, it was a nice day out.
Go for a tour of the isle on quads with a private guide, which we did, it's real fun. Just as another day excursion to coco beach with barbecue and fresh coco nuts.
We visited the ancient pirate cemetery, spend some time at the zoo and botanical garden 'Endemica' and we climbed a hill and gazed at the sea for a long time to see if whales already arrived, unfortunately no whale watching yet.
We did some snorkeling at the beach and lots of reading.
Then we had the brilliant idea to go t the capital of the isle by bike.
We stayed for 7 nights at Princesse Bora Lodge in a lovely cottage.
The hotel, restaurants, cottages and gardens are located right of the beach and it feels like being in heaven - though I've never been there before . . .
Check out their website and have a look at the pictures, they tell it all.
Absolutely a place to stay we would recommend.
A bicycle ride on to the isle's capital Ambodi-fotatra that must be nice....that's what we thought.
After we'd been there by quad with a guide, we'd come to the conclusion that it was not too far to ride the distance by bike (estimated 12 to 15 km), and we were right, but what we surely underestimated was the bad condition of the street (at least back then) and the hardening of the saddle!
So we were riding on our bicycles to Ambodifotatra and before reaching the bridge to Ambodifotatra, about 10 by bike, my butt was aching and sore and I didn't wanna go on.
That's the moment captured on the picture!
We took a cab to drive us back to Princess Bora Lodge, but due to the very bad road, this was nearly as bad as riding the bike.
Nevertheless an unforgettable adventure !
Madagascar was definitely a good choice!
It's a wonderful destination to explore,
and we hope we can go back one day
to discover even more of this unique country and its people.