Exploring Madagascar South – from Fort Dauphin to Berentry…

 Fort Dauphin Stunning empty beaches, remote villages and dancing lemurs – that’s what I’ve heard about the region of Fort Dauphin and Berentry Reserve – and that’s what I really wanted to go and see!!! Jenman Safaris allowed my colleague and me to venture to this part of Madagascar for 5 days. Our adventure started in Tana where we started to make our way to Fort Dauphin. Fort Dauphin airport is just as chaotic as any other airport in Madagascar – here you have to learn your luggage tag number in French as they call it out to the masses and you have to run to the front to grab your bag – or just do it like we did – spot your bag and grab it from the guy who is shouting something in French.

The next morning we started with a short walk through town down to the beach, buying some water and fruit at the little stalls on the side of the sandy road before heading to inspect some of the accommodation around. Vinanibe Lodge is definitely my favourite accommodation in the area. Beautiful Malagasy bungalows situated on a calm lake underneath palm trees. After having done the ‘serious’ bits of our trip Elana and I were finally allowed to have some fun – our driver and guide took us to a lake, where we stepped onto a speed boat (after putting on very sexy life jackets) and got transferred to the fishing village of Evatra. Once there it was boiling hot and my European white skin was slowly making me look like a prawn (yum!). At a remote lagoon we stopped for lunch and of course for a swim. We were all alone here, only some zebus (Malagasy cows) joined us in a shady spot! These are moments that make me realise: what a life and what an amazing job I have!!! (We still have vacancies for Sales Consultants, so send your application to hr@jenmansafaris.com!)

 Fort Dauphin Our next adventure was our journey to Berentry Reserve – crossing the chain of Anosy we crossed a borderline between two climates, from extremely humid to extremely arid. The borderline is marked by the National Park of Andohaela; which basically meant that at 11.00 in the morning we walked through a spiny forest full of thorntrees and cactuses with hardly any shade in 45 degree heat! The only thing that kept me going was the anticipation of the rock pools we would be allowed to swim in at the end of our walk. Don’t get me wrong, the park is really worthwhile seeing and visiting but plan the time of the day you go there carefully! The rock pools are stunning and the water really refreshing and one of them even has the shape of a heart – the perfect spot to plan a proposal!

 Fort Dauphin The road to Berentry is long and one cannot even call it a road, if you know what I mean – but all of that is part of the experience. Finally I got to see these dancing lemurs and it didn’t take 30 minutes and some of the ringtailed lemurs found the open door to our bungalow and searched Elana’s bag for our beloved sweets! Needless to say that we weren’t letting him take any! Walking through the reserve we spotted more of those amazing little creatures in groups and families with babies hanging on their back, crossing the path right in front of us or sitting on the tree branches above us and staring at us with their round black eyes.

The same evening our guide took us for a night walk to spot night active lemurs. We entered a little forest in the Berentry Reserve, the driver stayed behind probably knowing what we were about to experience … We entered the forest and the first thing that came into my mind was: ‘Blairwitch Project’ so we made sure to stay as close as possible to our guide and then we walked through our first swarm of Christmas beetles! The stroll ended up being quite a brisk walk to get out of the forest again and away from the beetles that where now crawling up our legs, getting stuck in our hair and even in our ears. Elana and I were laughing our heads off afterwards but we did find one of those lemurs and stood watching him for a while not being bothered by the beetles in our pants.

The next morning our adventure came to an end after our drive back to Fort Dauphin and exploring some of the beaches and surfspots in the area. We had a really good time, I can recommend it to everyone even though the time of the year was probably not the best! The best time to travel in this region is between May and September!

To experience what Elana and I experienced and more, have a look at our 4×4 to the Deep South itinerary or enquire for a tailor-made package combining Berentry Reserve with a beach holiday!

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