Experience the world with us

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Wonderful World of Madagascar

When I was told that I am going to Madagascar, I had mixed feelings of excitement and nervousness. I said to myself “Isn’t Madagascar that country somewhere in Africa where there is only forests and “wild monkeys’ everywhere???? Boy was I wrong!!!

My experience started off with a bang. Flying from South Africa and arriving in Antananarivo. As soon as we landed a heat so hot and dense hits you. An average of around 35 - 40 degrees was our temperature daily that surrounded us. Not that the heat stopped us from exploring what Madagascar is all about.

After getting all our legal documents sorted out, we waited for our flight to Nosy Be. Arriving at the island of perfume, we were warmly greeted by our driver and guide for the next two days. On the way to the our first hotel we had a mini information session about what makes Nosy Be so special and the culture of this Frangipani fragranced island!

We were welcomed to our hotel by the friendly Malagasian people, even if you do not understand them, they make you feel immediately welcome in their part of the world.

The next couple of days consisted out of walking and meeting the locals. It also consisted exploring the beautiful and delicately furnished hotels. Madagascar is richly influenced by France. You can see and taste it in their delicacies and menus. The hotels also resemble a European fell, yet there is a local influence of natural materials and local handicrafts.

Our next stop was Andasibe, three and an half hours drive from Antananarivo. All along the way it reminded me of the Mpumalanga with the beautiful green dense forests, and narrow winding roads. Andasibe is famous for their monkey like creatures, “Lemurs" and their extraordinary chameleons, insects, butterflies and frogs.

Nothing about Madagascar is ordinary. We experienced first hand the tame, yet wild nature of 5 of the 11 official species of lemurs only found in Madagascar. Don’t forget to take your hiking boots as there is so much to see. Be sure to take a guided tour up the mountains at the Perinet National Park. The guide takes you so close to the lemurs, you feel like you can literally touch their furry bodies.

Back in Tana, the city is rich in history and culture. Malagasies’ staple food consists out of rice, potatoes, fish and “Zebu’, their local cattle. Most of their forests are now replaced with rice paddies due to government problems and influences. I will definitely recommend 2 days in Tana, there is enough to keep you busy and their local craft market is a must.

If you drive up to the prime minister’s house on the hill, you will have a beautiful view over the city, a sure “Kodak??? moment. For the roaring stomachs a visit to Hotel Sakamanga is a must, there you will get a wide variety of local cuisine to suit all taste buds.

A short flight to Saint Marie, the island of the Pirates. The island is a mere 7 km wide and 40 long. Being welcomed by their local transport at the airport, a Zebu wagon, you get to experience and see the little island with locals and smiling kids greeting you along the road.

Saint Marie also famous for their humpback whales visiting their bays every July to September and is definitely my personal favourite due to its quaint and secluded feeling. Although Saint Marie is one of the closest islands to Tana, it still gives you the feeling of tranquility and peace. But don’t underestimate this little island, you can keep yourself occupied no doubt about that.

For a nice day outing, take a leisure two hour drive to Coco Bay, a little secluded beach and nature resort. Owned and managed by Princess Borah hotel. Don’t forget to take your snorkel and flippers with you to experience the magical underwater world like no other. It is here where I have snorkeled for the very first time in my life, this experience and memory that I will treasure forever.

After working up an appetite swimming and exploring the sea life, the crew cooks up a mouth watering lunch for you. Fresh smoked fish, salads, rice, fresh fruit and ice cold beer or sodas was on our lunch menu.

After a nice daytrip, you can go back to your hotel for a relaxing massage. Let your professional masseuse rub all your sore and tense muscles away and not forgetting your office stress with natural and locally produced aromatherapy oils and creams. All this is happening while the sun setting over the ocean on yet another perfect day.

On our flight back to Tana for our last night in Madagascar, I look down below at the green hills, blue see-through water and white sandy beaches and I thought to myself what a wonderful world…

No comments: