The journey to Mandrare River Camp began with an approximately 100km 3-4 hour off road adventure drive (charter flights also available) from Fort Dauphin. The road is not the smoothest but as an avid 4×4 driver and off road adventurer I enjoyed some of the driving.
This truly magical tented camp is set along the banks of the Mandrare River under a small patch of beautiful large and shady riverine trees. There are 6 luxury tents which are privately set apart from one another giving you privacy from your fellow neighbours at the camp although your neighbours will probably become your friends, after spending time together around the campfire, and at meals, sharing stories and experiences of your holiday in Madagaskar.
The tents are equipped with a very comfortable double bed with a net to keep the mosquitos at bay. A chest, camp closet and dressing table are provided for your belongings and lighting is adequate and solar powered, as is the hot water system. The stone bathroom built onto the back of the tent is very spacious and the showers are beautiful. Charging of camera’s or phone batteries can be done by the manager whenever required, as only solar power is provided in the rooms. Our camera was easily fully charged during dinner.
The meals at Mandrare were superb, all 3 courses – probably my favourite in Madagaskar. The delicious meals included local dishes such as tender zebu (Malagasy beef) and great fresh fruit and veggies. Breakfast included freshly baked croissants, cereal, fresh fruit, and eggs however you like them. The staff at Mandrare made us feel welcome and really do go the extra mile for their guests, with another guest celebrating his birthday at the camp the chef managed to whip up a most delicious birthday cake complete with candles as a surprise.
All that said, the excursions are really what make Mandrare special. One of my top highlights from a two week trip travelling much of the southern half of the country was here in the sacred spiny forest – watching Verraux’s Sifakas jumping between the spiny octopus trees just before sunset. One can’t help but feel like you’ve stepped into a David Attenborough documentary! Ring-tailed lemurs in the gallery forest along the river the next day, along with a sighting of an incredibly endangered radiated tortoise and both nocturnal sportive and mouse lemurs on a night walk rounded off the experience nicely. Our guide Ernest was very knowledgeable and fun to spend time with.
The manager, Thomas, is exceptional and very friendly and went out of his way to make sure we were well looked after. The service by all the staff in general was impeccable, and their English was also good. Mandrare is a true wilderness destination and a gem in a country with unique biodiversity and is highly recommended, but make sure you don’t leave your sense of adventure at home.
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