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Shazza's Escapades Light hearted look at my travel escapades

Madagascar 2014

MADAGASCAR | Friday, 15 August 2014 | Views [188]

I have always wanted to see Madagascar even as I boarded their very old plane from Johannesburg I got a little nervous. I arrived late in the evening so I didn’t get to meet the group. I met them the next morning where we saw our very first lemurs and amazing chameleons. I couldn’t believe how quickly into the trip we were before we saw them. They were everywhere; in fact I had one skim my head. There are so many different species of lemurs I was surprised to see most of them. Because of the logging happening in Madagascar a lot of their national parks are being destroyed and lemurs are either dying or moving away. So I was so happy to see so many lemurs and chameleons too.

We had many long drives and on the way had walks in local villages and towns. We visited markets, schools and workshops. There are many poor people in Madagascar and they have come up with an ingenious way to make a living by recycling everything they find. So up pops little workshops making local crafts using recycled material. Even their tools are recycled; parts from washing machines are used to sand down horns and jeans to shine them. Very clever and all for free.

The first few treks into the parks were wet and muddy. In fact I found some of the lodges we stayed at were cold. Luckily I brought my hot water bottle which saved the day. My roommate was jealous especially when some rooms didn’t even have hot water.

The best thing about Madagascar apart from the lemurs is its people. They are so friendly and welcoming. The fact that they looked like Malaysians made it feel like I was home.

It was quite some time since I have encountered beggars and street sellers and the further south you go the more aggressive they got. Some places we stayed the guide said we shouldn’t go out alone at night because he guaranteed that we would get robbed. I didn’t believe it, this may happen in the city but surely small towns and villages are not like that. Well I’m not one for doing as I’m told so I ventured out alone. I didn’t go out at night except for when we stayed at the beach as the hotel was too expensive for me. I found a lovely little café 5 minutes’ walk away. The only thing is there are no lights on the beach so I had to walk in the pitch black; luckily it was in one direction. On my walks I even managed to see hermit crabs. Pretty soon the whole group followed me to my favourite and cheap café.

We visited villages who apparently owned the Baobab trees. I guess it’s a way to get an income from the tourist when you charge them to take photos of the trees. Plus they make handicrafts too. The idea is to stop them from begging. But they’re aggressive selling was very off putting.

After the group tour I went off on my own to visit the north of the island eventually finishing off at Nosy Be. I flew into Diego Suarez which is the furthest northern town in Madagascar. Let’s just say it wasn’t as awe inspiring as the photos I had seen. The same goes for Tsingy national park and Nosy Be too. It’s a shame when you don’t see what you expect. Apparently it’s because I was there at the wrong season. I had a near miss at the Nosy Be port. I was supposed to be picked up by the hotel as my guide had arranged before he put me on a speed boat, this was an experience on its own. Nobody arrived and as usual people offer to help ring him and then demand money. What was worrying was I was about to follow him when he said your guide told me to take you to the hotel. What was I thinking? Alarm bells started ringing and I said no way and just like that the hotel driver appeared. He apologised for being late and the guy who phoned my guide was not happy and gave him a hard time. I guess he missed his opportunity to rob and do god knows what else to me. A lucky escape.

Nosy Be was a little town pebbled with tourists resorts up and down the island. You can get very swanky 5 star resorts or a place like mine which was 3 stars and within walking distance of the nearest town although up hill. It was close to the beach but I didn’t need it as I had my very own pool. Why? Well I was the only person in the hotel. I had the pool and the hammock deck with amazing views all to myself. I enjoyed my alone time.

The next morning I had a tour to visit a nearby deserted island which was a national park. I went by speed boat and I could have snorkelled all day but I didn’t feel like it. I stayed and sunbathed in the sun and when I got too hot I swam in the sea. I practically had the beach to myself. Lunchtime was amazing, fit for 10 people, I had crab, fish, prawns and everything else that comes in a beach picnic lunch. I couldn’t go snorkelling even if I wanted to as I was so full.

Madagascar was a fabulous trip and I think I didn’t need to visit the north to enhance my visit. It was very expensive and my group tour was much more enjoyable than my independent trip. 


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