ARRIVAL OF MADAGASCAR
Let’s kick the trip off by starting with the favorite island of famous David Attenborough. The lovely African Island called Madagascar, the land of Lemurs.
Landing in Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar, first of June. The the trip starts along the west coast and all the way around to the east coast. Whale safari, diving, Rainforest, Canyons, plantations are some of the activities we are indulging on. Bungalow on the beachfront, sunny days filled with animals you can’t see anywhere else in the world. It will be some amazing months on this adventurous island.
A perfect island?
We could writhe this whole part in one sentence: animals. But that’s not exciting, is it?
Jungle, dry forests, deserts and xeric scrublands. Add high peaks, escarpments and plateaus, swamps, and lagoon and with this list, Madagascar might have it all. For the size of the island, Madagascar has an overwhelming amount of stunning and diverse landscape.
Miles and miles of stunning coastline wrap around the island, and that’s our main source of inspiration. Being able to snorkel, dive or take a swim almost every day in the Indian Ocean. Animal encounters on both wet and dry land, with species not found any elsewhere in the world. Activities like some mellow surfing and fishing in crystal clear waters don’t sound too bad either.
Did we mention animals? Yes, of course, we did. Madagascar’s fauna is exploding with indigenous wildlife. It cannot be repeated enough. The absence of monkeys has created a niche for lemurs, you should google them. Seeing them must be worth the time to travel there on its own since the island is the only place in the world where these fun-loving creatures can be found.
Seeing as up to as of 2013—up to 90% of all lemur species face extinction within the next 20 to 25 years according to UICN, we find it as a privilege to be able to see as many of the species as we can. How can a species that don’t have any natural predators go extinct? Well, many lemur species are threatened with extinction due to habitat loss and hunting.
You don’t need any other reason to visit Madagascar, do you?
The idea is to stay in Antananarivo for two days at first. Then we head out to the east coast to get that lovely vacation vibe. We have booked numerous places to stay and we have plenty of time while being there too. Allowing us to get in the zone, blog and make content for the Qoalafied Project while maintaining a vacation feeling. All our accommodations are near the sea. Or should we say on the beach? Some even close to the forest, meaning we will experience a lot of the wildlife.
We cannot stress the importance of time. Our schedule, if you can call it that. Heaps of time to go exploring and activities like snorkeling, sunbathing, cooking and watching animals. We are visiting a few national parks and remote islands which nobody lives on too. There we can capture some great scenery and get a feeling of being cast aside.
Visiting the cities will give us valuable time to the communities and their daily life. If we are lucky we might get the chance to take part in some local activities. we will explore the communities and the daily life of the locals, maybe participating in some of the activities they have.
This is also the only country we visit where they don’t speak English, as native or at all. So as a preparation we are learning their native language: Gaskin. And their second language: French. By all means, we are not going to be fluent in either, but it would be nice to be able to explain yourselves on the basic things.
Ask Therese. We already experienced the lack of English whereas some of the emails were communicated in French. Thanks google translate. Seriously. Thanks.
There`s not exactly too much information to find about how to get around in Madagascar. Since we are traveling all over the country and long distances, we have to consider if we want to take a flight or use public transportations. or maybe it’s better to rent our own car?
Of what informations we can find, public transportations are cheap but unsafe. The flights are unstable in time, and the roads are difficult to drive on. So we actually decided to just wait and see when we get there, and also to write a post about “How to get around in Madagascar” when we actually know how to get around. Hopefully, this can be useful to other people who find themselves in similar situations.
Ranomafana National Park
Ranomafana is one of Madagascar’s best known and most important parks. This park is located in the southeastern region of the island and is one of the most popular parks in Madagascar. The scenic eastern section is what we are looking forward to, with streams splashing through forested hills. Maybe we will get to see the endangered golden bamboo Lemur. These guys diets are made out of bamboo shoots that would kill most other animals of cyanide poisoning. Yet they eat it like it was candy. Needless to say, we are stoked thinking about visiting this park.
Masoala National Park
Situated in northeast Madagascar, the Masoala National Park covers nearly 250 miles of rainforest. It also includes three marine parks as well. The park features ten species of lemur, including the Aye-aye, the world’s largest nocturnal primate. Those are funny looking guys! The park is also home to a diverse array of birds and reptiles, including the Tomato frog, named for its bright red color. The Tampolo, Ambodilaitry and Idaho marine parks are ideal for snorkeling and kayaking adventures. Two activities we both love to take part in.
This is also one of the few places in Madagascar where the Rainforest meets the sea. According to our research, this is the biggest and most unique parks of them all. That is why we decided to stay in this area for 10 whole days. There is just too much to see and explore!
Encompassing around 100 miles of land in eastern Madagascar, Andasibe-Mantadia National Park is home to eleven lemur species. This includes the country’s largest lemur, named Indri. Here are some wonderful chameleons that we would love to observe. The two-foot-long Parson’s chameleon and the tiny nose-horned chameleon. The latter is a cute one if you ask us. Furthermore, there are plenty of frogs to watch. And birds, including Madagascar blue pigeon, coral-billed nuthatches, and the Madagascar long-eared owl. The park is located near Madagascar’s capital city of Antananarivo, making it a easy access for us at the start.
Royal Hill of Ambohimanga
Pictures of this places leave us a bit speechless. It looks something you would see in an Indiana Jones film. First occupied in the fifteenth century, the Royal Hill of Ambohimanga has long been one of the most important spiritual and historic sites for the Malagasy people. Considered one of the country’s most sacred spots by the Malagasy people for 500 years.
This is also a historical village that was once home to Madagascar royalty. A fun fact we found was that the wall that surrounds the village was made in 1847 with egg whites. Or rather mortar made of lime and egg whites to be precise. We are looking forward to beholding solid rosewood walls and artifacts of the island’s great king, including drums, weapons, and talismans.
The Ifaty southern region is delightfully laidback. Comprised of two small fishing villages called Mangily and Madio Rano it’s a perfect spot to unwind. But Offshore, a 60-mile long coral reef is a natural barrier to rough sea waves. This creates coastal waters that are ideal for diving, snorkeling, and fishing. Again, perfect for us. The desert inland area is known for its spiny forest, where the strange-shaped baobab trees have thrived for centuries. If you didn’t know baobab trees are on almost every Madagascar postcard.
You can also see migrating whales here during July and August, which might be a highlight for us. Although we can see them in Norway from time to time, this is something different.
We guess this is the touristy place to be. The small island of Nosy Be is one of Madagascar’s premier tourist spots attracting thousands of tourists from across the globe year round. Although Nosy Be’s beaches don’t look as picture perfect as some other tropical beaches, they do win points for tranquility and clear turquoise water. Add excellent seafood restaurants serving seafood dinner on the sand and we are set.
With all the essentials for a dream beach holiday such as scuba diving, snorkeling, warm waters and excellent weather this collection of islands also offers the opportunity to spot lemurs and chameleons, hike through the rainforest and explore the unique fauna and flora of Madagascar.
Here we have booked our own Bungalow on the beachfront for seven whole days. We can’t wait to get there!
Tsingy de Bemaraha
This spectacular mineral forest of Tsingy de Bemaraha stands on the western coast of Madagascar and it is the largest natural reserve, Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve. Tsingy is the Malagasy word for “walking on tiptoes” and the nearly impenetrable labyrinth of limestone needles justifies this name. It’s hard to believe the pictures you see from this place, it looks out of this world. Located near the country’s west coast, the park features a broad expanse of mangrove forest.
Tsingy park is home to seven lemur species, including the Deckens sifaka, a genus of lemur notable for its creamy white fur and black face. We are not allowed to go to the northern section of the park. It is an Integral Reserve, so tourists are not allowed to enter the zone. The reserve’s canyons, gorges, undisturbed forests, lakes and mangrove swamps display an astonishing richness of fauna and flora which have not been completely recorded. Not that we intend to record anything scientific in Madagascar at all, we are merely tourists there for the view.
Isalo National Park
The Isalo National Park is notable for its varied terrain. Located in the central southern region of Madagascar, the park includes areas of grassland, steep canyons and sandstone formations, all dotted by occasional pools lined by palm trees. As in many of the country’s national parks, guides are required. For us this makes sense, and a guide will enhance our experience. This means tours can be arranged to last as short as several hours or as long as several days, giving us a lot to choose from.
Though wildlife is here not as prominent as in other parts of the country, there are still a couple of species worth to look out for. Ring-tailed lemurs, brown lemurs, sifakas and 14 nocturnal lemurs hide in dense vegetation along the streams. Especially ring-tailed lemurs are something we look forward to, think Madagascar.
Ile Sainte Marie
Or called “A little piece of Heaven” by the internet. Ile Sainte Marie lies off the east coast of Madagascar. From what we can read there will be wrecks pirate ships. Turns out the protected bays and inlets drew pirates to this Island during the 17th and 18th centuries. To see them we are going to Baie des Forbans and it’s shallow waters.
Today the island is one of the top tourist attractions in Madagascar. The still, clear waters of the island’s bays make ideal spots for snorkeling. Migrating humpback whales visit the island waters during summer and early fall. Another chance to see those majestic creatures.