12-14 March 2018 - Back to Tana then Home

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March 12th 2018
Published: March 17th 2018
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Monday 12 March – Back to Tana

The airport of Antsiranana (Diego) was basic with simple facilities. After leaving our hotel at 6.30am we waited about an hour before boarding at 8.30am and arrived in Tana on time after the 1.75 hour flight with Air Madagascar.

A different driver was waiting for us at the airport and drove us to Hotel Mellis, the 3rd time we had stayed there. It’s a great hotel and very central.

We went to the markets to buy some avocado and fruit for a light lunch. It was fun bartering with stall holders who couldn’t speak English and we certainly couldn’t speak Malagasy or French. The market was packed as usual and one needed to watch for pick-pockets as they are rife in this city market place.

We then decided to catch a taxi to visit the local Zoo and Botanical Gardens. The taxi was owned by an older mother and father and adult son. The father drove the car.

Once arriving and paying our 10,000Ar each we were asked several times if we wanted a guide to take us around the large grounds. We just wanted to wander.

The state of the zoo was as we expected, run down with the animal enclosures not well maintains. But the objective was to see more lemurs, even though they weren’t in their natural habitat. We also saw very large tortoises and many local birds, snakes, chameleons and much more. There was a large display of indigenous plants sprinkled around 2 large lakes. Several of the world’s botanical and wildlife organisations are supporting the zoo financially.

Our taxi ride back to the hotel was an absolute laugh. We hopped into an old Renault, and I mean old. Doors couldn’t be opened normally, the motor kept on stalling, there was a constant petrol smell, the windows couldn’t wind down or up, gears crunched, ceiling was black and there was lots of rust. We sat in the back totally fascinated . . . but we got there. How it made it up the hills in Tana, we will never know. We nearly got stuck behind an old Renault 4 which was smoking so much we could hardly see where we were going. All the taxis in Tana are mostly very old Citrons, Renaults and Peugeots and all painted cream. We then went back to the hotel for our last THB beer for the afternoon before going out to our last dinner of this wonderful travel we had experienced during the last 44 days (36 for Tom). I can’t believe this time away started with me and Adam climbing Mt Kilimanjaro. We have had such a diverse time away. Very lucky.

Our last dinner for this trip was at a restaurant called Sakamanga, we had a medium rare fillet steak with honey sauce, (Tom had pepper sauce) fries and salad. We had a lovely South African red. Unusually, we both had a desert, Tom a chocolate mouse which he couldn’t finish (and those who know me, I couldn’t leave that uneaten!) and I had a chocolate fondue with fruit skewer. Yum!!!

On the way to the restaurant we saw 5-6 hookers who were all young girls. They had all gone when we left the restaurant.

We walked 10 minutes back to our hotel. One aspect of 3rd world, poor countries is the sadness one often sees, particularly in cities. We saw a young boy, probably 6 yo walking around the street at 9.30pm, begging. I saw another boy of a similar age with a little baby tied on his back. Absolutely tragic, just tragic. We walked solemnly up to our room.

Tuesday 13 March – Homeward Bound

For the first time this trip, we woke slowly, my darling got me a coffee in bed, read our emails and slowly went down to have a leisurely breakfast. Out driver picked us up at 11.30am to start our long hall from Tana – Johannesburg – Perth – Brisbane. Unfortunately, Tom booked himself on Virgin from Perth to Brisbane whereas the original booking I did (which was cancelled by mistake) was the same as my ticket, with Qantas. Tom flew home an hour later than me (midnight), but I waited for him at the Brisbane airport.

I had no passport problems going through the South African airspace re my full passport. I continue to negotiate with Kenyan Airlines and have threatened legal action and annoyance in the market place – I will enjoy that!!. I have my new passport waiting for me at home and as soon as I arrived home I contacted the Australian High Commission in Nairobi to activate the new passport. I am now ready for the next adventure!!

It was so good to see Kerrie, Adam & Gemma. Heck we miss them when we are away. It’s always fantastic to come home.

As always, Tom & I have sat down to think of our highlights of the Madagascar section of our trip, so here they are:

Highlights of Madagascar

· Walking through dry and tropical rain forest looking for lemurs and seeing 16 different species during our 18 days

· The big, bright, friendly smiles of the Malagasy people who live very simple lives in rural Madagascar but sometimes challenging lives in the cities

· Rough (red) and Grey Tsingy parks

· Seeing the vast range of chameleons

· Avenue of Baobab Trees, particularly the changing colours during sunset

· Beach of Morondava and the relaxed atmosphere

· Isalo National Park its wide variety of terrain, including sandstone formations, deep canyons, palm-lined oases, and grassland.

· Interacting with lemurs on Lemur Island

· Zebu Market

· Staying in an over-the-water bungalow – Hotel Lac Anosy in Fianarantsoa

· Our diverse styles of accommodation throughout Madagascar

Additional photos below
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