Musings of a Madagascar Visitor

Diana Trawford

22 Oct 2019

NWS client Diana experiences the colourful vivacity of Madagascar and its wildlife

A long trip: Jamaica, Miami, Heathrow, Johannesburg, Antananarivo, and finally, 48 hours later, Hotel Relais de Plateaux. Have a snooze. How wonderful – the hotel has organised a large cocktail party to welcome us – drinks are flowing and tasty snacks are laid out. Hmm, I just found out that they are actually celebrating getting another star!

The next morning, we meet up with our Guide Njiva and Driver Roy to head to Palmarium. A five-hour drive? It feels more like all day, but a boat ride to the lodge is refreshing. What? Another million steps to climb? Oh, how wonderful – the lodge has organised a great welcome dance show for us. Hmm, just found out that they do this every night for everyone! I go to bed very tired and a bit disheartened.

5:30am What the heck is that – a terrorist attack? Howling, screaming, growling, barking, wailing, multiple assaults on our roof. I creep to the bathroom window and peer out, and like MAGIC. There they are, our first black and white ruffed lemurs.

That’s the way it is in Madagascar – long drives to get from place to place (Roy earned his Jamaican PHD – Pot Hole Dodger – with first class Honours) with hard climbing and trekking in some parks, alleviated by wonderful guide Barry holding fast on to your hand. This is followed by the sheer joy of spotting: the teddy bear like indris, a family of golden sifakas sharing a meal, a little mouse lemur curled up in his daytime bed, milne-edwards-sifakas right in front of you eating red soil to aid their digestion, cheeky ring-tails scurrying along the path ahead, a pair of night-jars regarding you sleepily, and a large parsons chameleon so still you wonder if it is actually a rubber one.

All followed by a brookesia leaf chameleon as tiny as your fingernail, the perfectly camouflaged leaf tail gecko that your guide has challenged you to spot. Then – relaxing at the end of the day at the amazing Jardin du Roy Hotel built among granite outcrops, and the quirky Bakuba Hotel with a bathtub that looks like a Maori war canoe hewn from a large tree trunk.

All along the way there are little snippets of Madagascan life; herds of zebu cattle being driven along the roads in and out of the traffic; wash-day by the river with the clothes spread out to dry like jewels on every available bush; little, dusty, urchin-faced entrepreneurs by the side of the road, seeking rewards for their repair endeavours; huge vistas of terraced rice fields, with rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner; street markets with crowds of brightly dressed people, the optimists diligently panning for sapphires; all brought together by the wonderful Natural World Safari staff to produce an amazing trip.

Many, many thanks to you all.

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