Africa specialist Peter has just returned from Madagascar on a two week recce of this unique and fascinating island. Below he talks about his favourite moments from the trip, including visiting the community project at Anja Park, enjoying the views in Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park and relaxing at Satrana Lodge...
Without a doubt the view from the top of the Grand Tsingy in the Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park. Although the walk to get there is only around 1.5km, it involves a lot of scrambling through caves and over jagged rocks, but the stunning view over the expanse of eroded dark limestone with the beautiful blue sky in the background made it well worth the walk.
Freshly caught linefish at Mikea Lodge on the west coast. This seemingly endless stretch of beach is home to just a handful of tourist lodges and fishing villages with fishermen heading out each day into the Mozambique Channel to be able to offer lodges the most wonderfully fresh produce. Grilled and served with a twist of lemon, this was utterly delicious and made the bumpy journey to get there all the more rewarding.
Best night’s accommodation?
Satrana Lodge in Isalo National Park. The lodge commands a stunning location looking out across the plains to the sandstone monoliths of Isalo National Park. The swimming pool area is beautifully appointed and the views are spectacular. The food and service are very good whilst the tented rooms were as comfortable and well laid out as you could wish for. A truly wonderful property and one of a handful of properties in inland Madagascar where you could happily spend a day doing nothing but relaxing and enjoying what the lodge has to offer.
Visiting Anja Park. Aside from the stunning scenery and chance to see the antics of many of the 500 ring-tailed lemurs that live in the park, the community conservation ethos of the park greatly appealed to me. I have touched on this in more detail in a previous blog but, to summarise, it was superb to see the local community taking the lead in helping to preserve the local flora and fauna and ensure the monies raised from visitors directly benefit the local community.
Not really. It would have been lovely to stay longer and visit some of the beaches and parks in the north of the country, but one of the beauties of visiting just a small part of any country is that it is a great excuse to go back and visit those parts you have yet to see and I will certainly be back to Madagascar very soon!
Tips for travellers
The moment you change your money (we recommend Euros) for local currency you become a millionaire, albeit in Malagasy Ariary. This leaves you with an impressive, if slightly cumbersome “brick” of currency. Find somewhere safe (ideally a day bag that is with you most of the time) to hide your stash and keep a float of around Ar 100,000 with you for the day for spending on incidentals. Also, don’t under any circumstances forget your insect repellent – I managed to do so and became a moving buffet for the many bugs that you find across the country.
The river journey en route to Tsingy de Bemaraha NP. This involved a 40 minute trip downstream on a shaky looking, but thankfully very robust “ferry” with 3 other vehicles. It was great fun to amble down the river so gently and enjoy the view back to the banks. On some of our group tours we offer a two night ferry trip with camping on the river banks and I would highly recommend this for anyone looking to enjoy a true “off the beaten track” adventure.