A First Visit to Madagascar

Lorraine Stone

22 Jun 2018

NWS client Lorraine experiences the delights of the Red Island

My husband and I spent two weeks in Madagascar last November/December. We had a super time, the highlight being watching the “dancing” sifakas – wonderful!

Having met Stefan (our guide) and Olivier (our driver), we spent our first overnight in Antananarivo. Next morning we started the long but very interesting drive to Andasibe. We found Madagascar to be a very beautiful and vibrant country, obviously very poor, but all the people we met were extremely friendly and welcoming.

Vakona Forest Lodge was very cosy and we spent the next three nights there, visiting Mantadia National Park, which is still primary rainforest, in search of diademed sifaka for the first day. We didn’t meet anyone else and the forest was fascinating, except for the leeches! A local guide, Everest, managed to find many birds and lemurs in their natural habitat to show us. Next day we visited Perinet National Park, where we saw and heard the indri amongst many other lemurs. There were other people here but we got to see many more lemurs. Afterwards we went to the island lemur sanctuary where we took many photos of us being climbed all over by lemurs!

Our next destination was to see the aye-aye, a very devilish-looking nocturnal lemur, quite amazing. Here the accommodation was on an island in the channel between Mozambique and Madagascar. We had great fun walking around the island looking at the local lemurs and wildlife or just watching them from our balcony. Next day we took a long boat trip along the channel to Tamatave, the second-largest town in Madagascar where we overnighted before our flight back to Tana. We had time to visit the local market this time – the first time anyone tried to sell us anything. We managed to find an authentic mask to add to our collection which we are very pleased with.

Next day we packed for a light aircraft trip of 1.5 hours to Anjajavy to stay at Anjajavy Lodge in the far north of Madagascar. To start with we were rather nervous that we had allowed a whole week for this destination, but as soon as we arrived we knew we had nothing to worry about. We were welcomed by the French manager who was so friendly and enthusiastic about the lodge, which only employs local staff (apart from himself) and also helps the local community and wildlife.

I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve stayed in a nicer, more friendly and welcoming place. The wooden chalets were amazing, right on the beach, the food top-notch, really gourmet standard, and the oasis area – a haven where we sat for tea while watching the lemurs playing and the chameleons hesitantly crossing the lawn next to the lovebirds – was unforgettable.

There was a large swimming pool, many deserted beaches to be explored and lots of either guided or unguided trips, where one can see sights ranging from baobab trees to massive land crabs, as well as cave trips and boat trips to see the very rare fish eagle and enormous bats. It was also a paradise for birds – we made friends with a birder who was in his element. There were still some trips we didn’t manage to do in a week. We don’t usually return or revisit a place because there is so much more to see in the world, but I think this resort is going to be the exception!

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