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My educational journey to Madagascar

August 26, 2019 Visit Africa / Seychelles No Comments Email Email

Andasibe:

Four hours scenic drive to the east of Antananarivo are the rainforest reserves of Andasibe where I spent my first 3 days in Madagascar.

The journey to Andasibe offers first time visitors to Madagascar an introduction to rural life with rice fields, redbrick houses and roadside stalls selling seasonal fruits and vegetables lining the route while passing through many bustling villages and towns.

The gentle rain in the region for the duration of my stay added positively to my experiences in the rain forests. I undertook a night walk in the rain to see frogs and chameleons and went on hikes through spectacular old growth primary forest where we saw a variety of lemurs and heard the eerie calls of the Indri lemur.

Mandrare Camp:

Mandrare Camp is beautiful with a tranquil setting amongst the trees with superb views of the Mandrare River. From each private deck guests one can watch the Antandroy tribes’ families and their children’s activities in the river. The food was gourmet style, delicious and artistically presented.

My Malagasy guides were incredibly knowledgeable and eloquent and I enjoyed the diversity of activities offered. I was fascinated by the villages and the way of life which appears to have changed little since biblical times. Poor yet happy, friendly people with scruffy but exquisite kids who followed me everywhere and loved being photographed.

We walked in the Gallery Forests to observe Ringtail and Sifaka Lemurs after being pulled across the Mandrare River in a kayak. We also enjoyed day and night walks in the unbelievable Spiny Forests. Otherworldly is a good description of this unique, arid succulent-like forest habitat. Many varieties of weird ‘Octopus trees’ totally endemic to Southern Madagascar’s arid region can be seen as well as Mouse and Sportive lemurs and a variety of spectacular chameleons. Sundowners amongst the baobabs was spectacular.

The support which MCC provides the villages by way of clinics, schools and solar power is fantastic and is as worthwhile to guests’ appreciation of the company’s involvement with the communities as to the understanding of Madagascar’s environmental and conservation needs and positive advances.

Manafiafy Camp:

Manafiafy Camp is situated on a private beach overlooking a tranquil, azure bay with breathtaking views. Delightful wooden cabins are set in a dense tropical forest, each with a private deck and are within a few steps of the beach.

The exquisite location perfectly sets the mood for the incredible activities and experiences that await.

The contrasting cuisine between the two MCC camps with lots of fish and seafood at Manafiafy and lots of beef [known as zebu locally] at Mandrare was brilliant. Meals at both camps were a gourmet’s delight! The fact that the Manafiafy dinners literally came straight out of the sea added to the experience. My mouth still waters at the memories of the many variety of fresh fish, oysters and lobster!

The innovation of having meals in different locations was superb and were unforgettable experiences. For example I had dinner on the beach adjacent to the camp and a picnic lunch on the completely deserted ‘10-mile beach’ after a stiff hike through the coastal tropical forest.

Some of the activities I experienced at Manafiafy included a night walk in the littoral forests to see woolly lemurs, red collared brown lemurs, stunningly beautiful chameleons, a variety of frogs and flying foxes [enormous fruit bats], going out to sea to view humpback whale pods and navigating the mangroves by boat.

I was privileged to visit the close-by Manafiafy fishing village. There I saw fisherman selling their freshly caught seafood and fish to the mountain tribes who walk 4-5 hours each way daily, bringing heavy loads of vegetables and sugar cane balanced on their heads to sell to the villagers.

General:

Mandrare and Manafiafy Camps are off the beaten track but are set in the surrounds of local communities. This gives guests the chance to be right amongst the wildlife and local tribes, yet also have the levels of comfort that they can get in a good hotel.

The infrastructure in Madagascar is not yet well developed however this adds to the intrigue, allure and fascination of the destination. The roads generally speaking are in poor condition however driving on them definitely adds to the overall sense of adventure. MCC’s highly skilled drivers and luxury 4×4 vehicles ensure the drives are really comfortable.

Clients headed for Madagascar should be advised that a light-hearted attitude and a spirit of adventure will ensure their many experiences will be enjoyed to the utmost. Even though they may not always have first-world infrastructure, they will always have five star smiles and will be endowed with memories of an unforgettable journey!

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