Blogs from Madagascar, Africa


Africa » Madagascar » Nosy Be April 10th 2015

This was our first visit to Madagascar. Our port of call was the island of Nosy Be. Because the perfume essence of the ylang-ylang tree is produced here for export primarily to France this is known as the Perfumed Isle. If you wear Chanel No. 5 you know ylang-ylang. The main reason for docking here is to see the black lemurs on the nearby island of Nosy Komba. We took a speed boat out to the island on a beautiful, sunny day. We made a wet landing at the village of Ampangorina. As we approached the island I saw clothes lines all along the beach filled with what I thought was drying laundry. As we went ashore I realized the laundry was actually handmade table cloths. On this small island there is no electricity, no running ... read more

Africa » Madagascar » Toliara » Tolear November 10th 2014

We were told by a guide at the airport to "expect the unexpected". Good advice for Madagascar. Driving is no exception. The best road, built with EU money, becomes deeply potholed without warning. The worst rutted track randomly becomes paved for 30 metres and then reverts to dirt. Most people here walk but there are a few bicycles - although we seem to see more strapped to the roof of a bus than on the road. Buses are invariably old Japanese minibuses, packed to bursting, six people on each three person seat. Produce is moved by zebu cart. Zebu (£200 each) are the beasts of burden as well as a food source. Zebu carts are erratic, zebu being prone to wandering or taking fright at other road users. On our drives we see lots of rice ... read more
Zebu cart transfer
Village girl
Verreaux's sifaka lemur

Africa » Madagascar » Ranomafana National Park November 5th 2014

From the Indian Ocean coast, we climb back up into the central mountains and head for Ranomafana. This National Park is renowned for its lemurs, some species here were only discovered 20 years ago. Today we, too, are able to walk, well clamber, around the mountainous rainforest playing explorer. We discover giant brown lemurs high in trees; red bellied lemurs climbing down to look at us; and a golden bamboo lemur drinking from a stream. It is hard to remember that these are critically endangered. - we are seeing perhaps 10% of their entire populations. Then it is on to our second trek, to climb Pic Boby, Madagascar's second highest peak at 2,658 metres (8640 feet). We need a rugged 4x4 to get us to the start but our rugged 4x4 breaks down in the village ... read more
Second cook
On top of the island
Ring tailed lemurs

Africa » Madagascar » Fianarantsoa October 30th 2014

The trek starts somewhere to the east of a village called Ambohidranandriana. We take off up a rough track to get there, in a rather old 4x4 filled with all our gear and provisions for four days. We bump and slide our way into the hills. After an hour or two, we suddenly turn left onto the merest hint of a footpath and over the horizon an isolated farmhouse appears. My mother-in-law's house, says our guide Marcel, she will cook lunch. There is no one in sight but within minutes we attract a crowd, including mother-in-law and lots of curious children. Zebu is the local cow or ox and zebu steak, a local delicacy, is for lunch, medium-rare. Not to our taste really. The caramelised bananas, however, are wonderful. Soon we are ready to set off. ... read more
Off to market
Deep river crossing
Village children

After just three days here we now know it is true - Madagascar is full of wildlife. We have seen so many lovely lemurs - black and white ones, ginger ones, brown ones; big indri lemurs that scream from the tops of the trees, mouse-size pygmy lemurs that silently creep around our feet; black and white ruffed lemurs that run away and hide, bamboo lemurs that bounce from tree to tree to find us and stare back from a foot away! Finding lemurs means trekking around rainforests and we get to see all manner of flora. The forest plants range from huge hardwood trees that tower above us out of sight to tiny orchids that hang from vines, flashes of colour in a world of greens and browns. Ferns and vines are abundant, and the bamboo ... read more
Indri lemur with baby

Africa » Madagascar » Antananarivo October 13th 2014

We are off to see some more of the world. On Sunday Eurostar will take us to Paris and then on Tuesday we fly south to Madagascar. We have three weeks to explore the southern half of this tropical African island. We should get into lots of National Parks and see all manner of flora and fauna - about 80% of Madagascar's flora and fauna occurs nowhere else on earth! We have lots of day walks planned and a couple of camping expeditions to get us right off the beaten track. We will be blogging as we travel, infrastructure permitting.... read more

Africa » Madagascar » Ranomafana National Park October 9th 2014

“Ou est la lemur, monsieur?” “First we view the plants as they do not move”, Laurie, with his good honest bloke’s name, tells us in a thick Malagasy accent. This local guide has lived in Ranomafana all his life, grown up in the bush and a lemur whisperer of sorts like his side kick Tahi Starting out yet again at the fresh hour of 6am, leaving by 7am, we were taken 10km up the hill to the reserve entrance. Here, a massive female pray mantis posed on a bright leaf, no doubt about to devour her male mate in gratitude for his role. The scenery was dense rainforest, and the humidity was as thick as Laurie’s accent First came the plants, the diabetes cure, the geckos and the constant calls in the forest of the much ... read more
I like to move it move it!
Ambalavao zebu market children
With Fidi, on way to base camp for Mt Boby

Africa » Madagascar » Ambositra September 29th 2014

‘Salame!’ Or maybe ‘Bonjour’ sounds better than cured meat as a greeting. Welcome to the blog on the land of duel languages, and home to the fictitious jiving King Julian. Madagascar is a large mountainous island, 400km off the east coast of Africa is double the size of New Zealand but with a population of over 2 million When I made the choice to venture here late in 2013, amidst travel warnings, my perception was of a sun parched low lying landscape. Flying into Antananarivo, ‘Tana’ as the locals call it, refuted that impression altogether Departure day from Jo’burg on the 27th started well if a tad sleep deprived. It would have been rude not to make the most of the 5 star gym and spa facility for lack of slumber, and this time I was ... read more
DSCF1181 (2)

Africa » Madagascar » Antananarivo September 27th 2014

One crammed travel pack and a sleepless night. Broken by a whirring hum from the lounge…then a low pitch groan from the eerie night…and a short swift swish of guttural dragging from the bedroom. My safari had begun and the garage door opening, curtains cast aside and static bike were the animals The time arrived to depart and to wind down from the coiled spring I had become. Bleary eyed and awake at 2:30am, I declared rise and shine it’s spin bike time! Checking the weather in Johannesburg, I anticipated temperature and altitude highs as per the webcam views. Johannesburg, I discovered, was as high as Denver in the USA, at nearly 1800 metres above sea level! Great, that means I will be swimming worse than ever there….. With sheets changed, Hotel Onepoto was readied for ... read more
Bad move Aaron

Africa » Madagascar » Antananarivo May 9th 2014

Troisième étape : Madagascar ! Malawané (ce qui veut dire bonjour en Malgache) Je suis bien arrivée à Madagascar, non sans une petite émotion car c'est mon pays d'origine. Nous sommes à présente le 9 Mai. Je suis restée sans nouvelles pendant 3 jours car je souhaitais découvrir bien en détail ce pays qui est cher à mon cœur et pour être au plus près de mes racines; je suis partie à la rencontre de Tananarive pour mieux la percevoir, la comprendre. Je loge actuellement chez une habitante avec qui j'avais pris contact lorsque j'ai préparé ce voyage. Elle s'appelle Boud et connait bien la culture malgache. Je n'ai donc pas eu besoin (ni vraiment l'envie) de prendre un guide touristique local car elle m'a prise sous son aile tout le temps de mon séjour ici. ... read more

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