The Feeling Madagscar brings is something that can’t easily be captured by words. It’s best to experience it and there are few better ways to experience it then the Madagascar Barefoot Luxury Southern Explorer. However, Robyn Portious wanted to prove to us that she can get fairly close to the experience through words. Read her blog below and see what you think?
We land in the capital city of the island, Antananarivo, and are greeted by our guide, a warm English-speaking man who tells us about the various things we see from behind the windows of our vehicle transfer to our hotel, The Pavillion de l’Emyrne. The hotel is situated in the heart of the old town of Antananarivo and used to be a private residence in the 1930s. Today it plays its role of a comfortable guest house, retaining all of its old world charm. We’re able to settle in and I find myself still somewhat disbelieving of the adventure I’ve begun – an adventure to Madagaskar.
The delicious breakfast at the hotel seems to bring my mind out of its dreamlike state and I’m able to smile at my newfound certainty: I am in Madagaskar. A two-hour flight delivers the group to Fort Dauphin on the south eastern coast. A three-hour journey by car allows me to take in the contrast of landscapes of which I’d heard so much when researching my trip. Rice paddies fade into a lush tropical plateau which dissolves into an arid region of sisal plantations. This day of journeying brings us to our accommodation for the next few nights – the luxury tents of the Mandrare River Camp. It’s hard not to feel a tinge of the excitement I imagine that latter-day explorers felt as they embarked upon an adventure rich with the promise of something as yet unknown.
The sound of the river lulled me into a deep sleep all night and I awake refreshed to a breakfast on its banks. This morning we set off to the sacred Antandroy forest to observe the lemurs and many bird species. We also see the tombs of the Antandroy ancestors, which radiate a sacred ancient presence all around them. The afternoon brings with it trip to the great sand dunes of Lake Anony before we take in the majesty of the sunset at the Baobabs. Others visit the local village and watch traditional dancers. All of us feel as if we’re spoiled for choice when it comes to filling the hours in the day in Madagaskar.
Day 4 & 5
Two more days are spent in the comfort of the Mandrare River camp. Between meals, we’re able to choose between a number of activities to enjoy. All of the activities offer a different and unique insight into the natural paradise of the island and the culture and history of its people. When night falls on the fifth day, I’m torn between the urge to stay in the paradise I’ve come to love, and the excitement that tomorrow brings as we set off for somewhere new.
Back to Fort Dauphin for lunch, we then continue through the plantations of mango, citrus, pineapples and bananas to the ocean coast and our destination of Manafiafy. Flanked by forest covered mountains, the lodge where we’ll spend the next few nights is perched upon a stretch of white sandy bay. I settle into my own private bungalow before taking my camera to the sundeck and capturing the sunset through its lens. How am I ever to leave this place?
Day 7, 8, 9 & 10
While I have not been as vigilant with writing in my journal, it’s for good reason – the last four days have been so filled with activity and adventure that I resolved to immerse myself in it and write about it later. If you can imagine it, I’ve done it and every activity has been as magical and exotic as it sounds: from an early morning boat trip to see the wetland birds to canoeing in the mangroves, from night walks in the forest to see lemurs to snorkelling in the cove and whale watching from a 15ft observation tower. The forest walks are a major highlight for people who visit this region of the island and for good reason. The shady dense vegetation is home to several lemurs as well as reptiles and other creatures who call the island their home. There have hardly been enough hours in the day for all the exploring to be done and I go to bed on the night before we leave firm in the knowledge that I will return to the island as soon as I possibly can.
Blog written by: Robyn Portious