As the Madagascar product manager for Jenman African Safaris, I regularly find myself on a plane to Madagascar (as it happens, I’m 32,000 m above the Indian ocean right now). So far I’ve seen the north, south, east & central highlands of Madagascar in my quest for knowledge, good hotels & interesting things for our clients to do. I’ve built wonderful relationships with hotel owners around Madagascar, & have lost my heart to this vast & varied country.
I’m incredibly fortunate to have travelled independently around Africa, passing through 24 of the continents 53 countries. Many of these destinations stick out as memorable or incredibly beautiful, but for some strange reason, none hold my heart captive like the enchantment of Madagascar.
I often find myself pondering why this red island so fascinates me. It could be its mix of peculiar & enthralling wildlife, or the fact that in some small undiscovered forest, an unknown plant could hold the cure for a common pestilence.
Perhaps too the varied mix of forests, mountains, desert, Tsingy, and ocean contribute to the allure of Madagascar, as do the charming and hospitable countrymen, with their fascinating beliefs and fady.
I regularly find myself drawing an awe-filled breath when I fly over Tana, with its vivid green rice paddies that contrast so violently with the red red architecture. I wave with excitement at the lines of kiddies walking to school, their uniform light blue jackets worn with pride, as they innocently hold hands. And more often than not I find myself face to the ground, my eyes absorbed in an intriguing looking plant or insect.
When you visit Madagascar you feel like a child again – one that has eyes as big as saucers as you try to take in all around you, from colourful markets, contrasting buildings & happy people, to bizarre animals and incredibly striking scenery.
To visit Madagascar is to open your eyes to another world.
On occasion when my mind isn’t occupied by the daily grind & I have time to let it wander free-willed, it sifts through the many places I have visited. I like to ponder where I would choose for my own holiday with husband at my side. With all my knowledge of places to visit, exotic destinations, fun-filled activities, and beautiful hotels, the only detail I am certain of is that it would definitely be Madagascar.
Of all the many places I have visited, I cannot make the decision on just one destination, and so here I invite you into my mind for 2 minutes, and you can view my difficult decision on choosing the ultimate holiday, for a girl who LOVES Madagascar, & a guy who is yet to experience it.
A stay at Sakatia Lodge – arriving late to the island with a warm welcome by Jose & Isabella. Walking up the ethnic steps to my Ocean bungalow, feet lit by fairly lights all the way. Falling asleep to the overture of Sakatia sounds – the lemurs on my roof, the crickets, & owls playing out their nightly chase & the wind through the palm trees. Spending the heat of the day under water, exploring the many dive sites and multi-coloured creatures from sea-horses & nudibranches, to lionfish, rays & whale-sharks. Afternoons spent exploring Sakatia Island on foot, visiting the village & taking a local pirogue out to hug the coastline. Evenings filled with jovial banter, intelligent conversation and “Three Horses” beer, accompanied by wonderful fresh seafood. Romance, action, friends and nature.
A week frolicking on the Jenman Dhow – hopping from 1 tropical island to the next & flopping into the warm crystal clear water at every opportunity. Taking a sea-kayak out to catch lunch, and snorkeling around the pretty corals. Respectfully following turtles around the clear waters of Tanikely, watching them surface for air as they seek out lunch. Dropping a hand-line into the water to see what we can catch. Falling asleep on the beach at night with full tummy, tired sunned limbs & a happy smile. Meeting new friends, exploring tropical islands, good clean healthy fun & seafood in abundance – active body, rested mind.
Chilling out on my tiny Robinson Crusoe Island on the east of Madagascar – Ile aux Nattes. Le Petite Traversee would be my choice of sleep, where the constantly smiling Ockie resides (when you live in paradise, there is no excuse not to smile). My mornings would have me relaxing on the deck overlooking the lagoon to St Marie, taking a walk to the perfect beach on the corner, & diving from the sand into the drop off. I would wander at ease along the continuous beach to the south, where I would search for lemurs, and pay a visit to the village for lunch. Dinner would come in the form of succulent Cameron’s (gigantic prawns), and we would chat the night away with all those lucky enough to share our piece of paradise. For action we would hire a scooter & explore the north of St Marie, the pirate cemetery & the town I can’t pronounce. We would dive, & Justin would fish, and life would be so good – just for a week on my special island.
So know you see my predicament. Three top choices of beautiful places, wholesome fun and relaxing smiles.
Now all we need is the time………