JENMAN Madagascar Safaris, in partnership with Madagascar Classic Camping recently launched the MADAGASCAR BAREFOOT LUXURY KAYAK ADVENTURE, in the beautiful and untouched areas around the St Luce Reserve, in Southeastern Madagascar.
Our adventure began with my previous blog, and is now continued…
We set off kayaking literally through the tops of the trees, (a totally weird perspective) so we had to navigate quite a few branches and obstructions on the water, which although high, was not moving fast, so one still had this beautiful ‘glassy’ water to kayak on. I found it easy to get used to kayaking with these boats, as they have no complicated steering or rudder system and a really shallow draft, (which is great when there are some branches to paddle over) so one simply steers with the paddles – and although this in itself can take a bit of getting used to… it was great fun.
We paddled for about 3 hours to Evatra, as our start had only been at 10 am and the drop was so that we didn’t have to do the full river length of 4 hours, a bit of a bonus for someone as unfit as I am… Just before Evatra, we had to go through a ‘lock’, which was interesting and provided a welcome opportunity to stretch legs etc. The chef from Manafiafy Beach and Rainforest Lodge was part of our crew and he and his team had whipped up a lovely lunch which was laid out and waiting for us at Evatra. It is a pretty place, privately owned and offers grassy lawns and great views. After lunch, a local guide walked with our group through the nearby village where his father is the headman, and around a magnificent headland, to our campsite, nestled in a forest and bordered by the most exquisite beach ever!
The delightful walk to Lokaro was about 3.5 hours but we really weren’t walking fast as every few metres we found something to photograph… we only got to the campsite as it was almost dark, but everyone loved the walk and the scenery was breathtaking. That night I saw about 8 Tenrecs in the campsite, snuffling around like little hedgehogs with really long snouts. After a breakfast of cereals and omelettes for those who wanted, we set off for our second day of adventuring. This time it was a short walk down the road to cross a small peninsula to the estuary where we began the day’s paddle. The paddling on this day was by far the most strenuous, but quite ‘do-able even for someone as unfit as me! After paddling across a huge lake full of forested islands, we then paddled down a beautiful stretch of water towards our next campsite. There was a little walk up a hill to the camp, but the view from the tents made it totally worthwhile! (I must say I’ve never wanted a shower so badly – it was fabulous, especially the hot water in our ‘bush shower with a view’…!) The crew had erected a canvas-covered dining room, which was just as well as it poured with rain all night (thank goodness we weren’t in a valley). The food again was amazing and I think the kitchen crew are excellent! Brian, one of the groups who used to be a food critic, loved the meals they prepared in the bush, and was very complimentary, which was great to hear.
After another great bush breakfast, we set off on our final day of paddling. The first bit was incredible, we paddled across a huge estuarine lake and then through an almost surreal landscape of huge water plants that we still don’t know the name of… some kind of Elephant Ear plant I think. These are the plants, but at one point they were very spread out almost like a maze. We eventually popped out of them around a corner where the riverbank became visible. Some little kids were playing on the banks here. The first sight they had of us, resulted in screams of abject terror! They ran towards their village screaming and crying and scared out of their wits… admittedly, the first face they had seen was Brian’s, and he really had put quite a lot of very white sunscreen on his face – JP had laughed when we set out and said he looked a bit spook-like. I think the children certainly thought so! This episode left us all in hysterics again… It was certainly good to have so many laughs along the way.
We continued along the channels between the weird water plants, until we were right against the forest, following some beautiful channels. This part would normally be paddled the following day, but we had fewer days available, so a boat was arranged to meet us where the channels become navigable.
We cruised up to the front of the lodge, where we were met by a big smile and welcome drinks, which were much appreciated! Everyone was then shown to their respective rooms beautifully nestled around a magnificent bay. The rest of the afternoon was at leisure, and most of us actually passed out and slept. I certainly made use of the lovely hammock on my deck. They offered us laundry to be done and then we all arranged to meet just before dinner for drinks and coffee etc. The atmosphere was lovely and relaxed, and everyone seemed more rested after their “afternoon off”. Once again, dinner was superb, with Manafiafy’s chef showing what he can do when not in the bush! After our awesome adventure on the river, we all headed off to bed wondering what new adventures tomorrow would bring…
– Debby Oscroft (Local Sales and Marketing Rep)