Blogs from Madagascar, Africa

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Africa » Madagascar June 12th 2019

So what the hell is a zebu, you might well ask. Well, simplistically it is a cow with a large hump near the neck. But in Madagascar it is far more than just that. The zebu is not only an emblem of Malagasy culture, it is a symbol of wealth and also punctuates rituals and the daily lives of the Malagasy people. Zebus appear in the fields, in the bush, on your dinner plate, and even on all their banknotes. It is too complicated to describe here, but the zebu plays a major role in Madagascar in each of circumcision ceremonies, major projects, weddings and even funerals, with slight differences in approach between tribes. And in a more practical sense, in agricultural activities, particularly rice growing (and this is the staple food for near all Malagasys), ... read more
The Macaco Lemur
... and with friend
All mod cons in this remote village ...


So, here I am back on my travels, accompanied once again by my regular travelling companion in remote regions, Bruce. This time we are doing the rounds of East Africa. However on this trip we are on individual tours in each region (six in all) rather than touring with a group. And as double cause for celebration, this is my 100th blog with TravelBlog, and being somewhere as unique as Madagascar, I hope you find it good reading. Our trip started with a direct flight from Sydney to Johannesburg, taking just under 14 hours in all. There is rarely anything good to report on a flight of this duration, but travelling Premium Economy with Qantas did soften the ... read more
The Black & White Riffed Lemur
... and with friend
A brightly coloured chameleon ...

Africa » Madagascar » Ambalavao March 6th 2019

Finally made it here! Happy after a long zeek of negociating to try to get yself a transport cheap enough to bring me to the south! my arrival as always was slightly dramatic, beginning with a strike at Nairobi airport, followed by sleeping on the hallaways of the airport and having to constantly question people about our chances of making it, at any point at any time that very day to Antananarivo? Well it took from 4am till departures 12 hours later to land in a never been land at Antananarivo airport by 8pm their time.... not y plan to start zith of course as I wanted to arrive during the day; but had to make do, surprisingly going through custo,ms was incredibly easy, and a lady at custos got me a ¨friend¨ of hers to ... read more
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Africa » Madagascar » Antsiranana August 8th 2018

After a bone-jarring, sleep-lacking, knee-hurting 31 hour taxi-brousse (think crowded van) from Tana we finally arrived in the evening in Diego-Suarez (Antsiranana). Of course there was a blown tire along the way, but that just provided a break for the excruciating pain in my knees from it being jammed into a metal bar for over a day. The first 4 days were spent in Diego-Suarez with a few excursions to the nearby areas. The first day was mostly just recovery from the horrific 31 hour ride, and some light exploring around town. The second day 3 of us hired a 4x4 and went in the morning to Mount Amber to see chameleons. How he could spot some of them boggles my mind but in total we saw 7 different species, including the smallest in the world ... read more
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Africa » Madagascar » Tsiribihina River July 21st 2018

This was a weeklong trip to the western part of Madagascar. I had joined a larger group of solo travelers. Day 1: Taxi-brousse from Antsirabe to Miandrivazao Day 2-3: Canoe down the Tsiribihana river with camping on the river bank. We saw lemurs (white and brown), many crocodiles, bats, and different birds. We also passed by various villages which have no roads and are only connected to the world by this river. On the first day there was also a waterfall with a small shallow pool that you could swim in. The first night of camping had many locals join us for alcohol and singing the latest Malagasy pop tunes. That night the wind was so severe that the tent basically flattened. Day 4: Last part of the canoeing and then a long 4x4 drive to ... read more
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Africa » Madagascar July 14th 2018

This was a road trip with a hired car south down the RN7 from Tana to Toliara. Weiwei and I had an English speaking driver who helped out with various logistics and translations. Day 1: Tana - Ranomafana A long 9 hour drive through the highlands and into the rainforest. Day 2: Ranomafana - Ranohira Unfortunately it was pouring rain in the morning so instead of a hike in the Ranomafana National Park, we drove onwards south for another 8 hours to Ranohira. At lunch we found a chameleon on a plant. Day 3-4: Isalo National Park We took a two day hike into Isalo NP with a guide. On the way to the park we saw a chameleon as well as locals making rum from the local sugarcane. Our path first went into a canyon ... read more
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Africa » Madagascar » Antananarivo March 13th 2018

The Day in the Life of Malagasians Rural Malagasians are up before sunrise, no electricity and no running water but the daily chores begin. The women prepared rice and fruit for breakfast for her big family. Strong Malagasian coffee was always prepared using charcoal for the fires. The school children put their school uniforms on (dark blue for private schools light blue for public schools) and helped with the younger ones. They had to start walking early as there was no public transport and school started at 8.00am. The men were out amongst the rice, corn and other vegies, later to be joined by the ladies. The 13+ boys move the Zebu for fresh grass. They all took their long narrow sticks to control the cattle. Several 16-18 year old girls were tending to their babies ... read more
Big loads (2)
Mindoanacentre Markets  (8)
Zebu on the way to market

Africa » Madagascar » Antananarivo March 12th 2018

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 ... read more
Antananarivo - Tana Tsimbazaza Zoo and Botanical Gardens (12)
Feeding lemurs honey at Antananarivo - Tana Tsimbazaza Zoo and Botanical Gardens (2)
Sakamanga Restaurant and Museum and Hotel in Tana (3)

Africa » Madagascar » Antsiranana March 11th 2018

Saturday 10 March – Ankarana Park This day was a day for the grey tsingy. We were going to the Tsingy de Ankarana. After only 30 minutes of driving we came to the entrance to the Park. As it was low season, the local people weren’t as geared up for tourists. We organised our lunch for when we returned but we knew we were the only ones to be eating as the locals don’t seem to have lunch and we were the only tourists around. Tsingy de Ankarana is a small version of the Tsingy de Bemaraha. This park in the north is on the national road to Antisirana and is easily accessible. The park also is home to three types of lemurs, and chameleons. The Ankarana Massif consists of a limestone shelf which imposes ... read more
Ankarana Park northern Madagascar (9)
Ankarana Park northern Madagascar (11)
Crowned Lemur (2)

Africa » Madagascar » Antsiranana March 9th 2018

Friday 9 March fly to Diego Suarez then drive to Ankarana I was very excited to be flying to the northern section of Madagascar. It is known for its unusual geological structures the tsingy rough. A 3.30am start was not exciting but all went smoothly with Rivo taking us to the airport. Fortunately, at that time of the morning the single lane road going to the airport was almost deserted unlike when we arrived it was bumper to bumper traffic for several kilometres. The flight to Diego Suarez was almost 2 hours. As soon as we exited the bag collection area, we spotted our name being held up by Eric our new guide. His driver was Ahmed who handled the 4x4 very well . . . . and the roads were atrocious, even worse than ... read more
Rough Tsingy Ankarana Park (15)
Rough Tsingy Ankarana Park (14)
Dinner at Hotel Relais D'Ankarana (2)




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