In November 2018 I was privileged enough to be able to travel to the mystical island of Madagascar. Myself and 7 others had the opportunity to spot chameleons, track lemurs, trek jungles, engage with nature and interact with the local people living their day to day lives. Madagascar isn’t on everyone’s bucket list, but let me assure you, it should be!
Our travels in Madagascar began in the wonderfully chaotic capital city of Antananarivo, colloquially known as ‘Tana’. Our city tour gave us the opportunity to experience the hustle and bustle of a simple but pretty city, bursting with character. We visited the colourful markets, which seem to sell everything from food to curtains. The experience is charming and authentic – it is a local Malagsy market and really not meant for us tourists, and that’s its charm.
We were taken to a number of viewpoints too, so that we could enjoy an elevated view of the sprawling city below.
As we headed east on a 4-hour drive down a winding road towards Andasibe National Park, we snaked through mountains and alongside a flowing river. I could instantly tell I was going to like this place – fresh air, singing birds, calling lemurs and a cool climate.
I really felt like I was at one with nature.
During our time in Andasibe we experienced nature walks, spotted chameleons, tracked lemurs, enjoyed an exciting canoe ride and even witnessed a snake eating a frog three times its size!
After a busy two days in Andasibe, it was time to make the journey southwest. Stopping overnight in Ambositra, which gave us the opportunity to see another working town in Madagascar. Ambositra has a huge fruit trading business, and for good reason – the fruit was fresh and juicy.
Up next we visited Ranomafana National Park – a must for anyone travelling in Madagascar. The rainforest there is so thick and rich with life. I’ll never forgot the sound of the forest when we first arrived into the valley. The next morning, after a great night’s rest, we headed off on a 4-hour jungle trek - and let me tell you, it was tough! The terrain was thick, steep, rugged and definitely not for the fainthearted. We were lucky enough to spot some more lemurs, as well as spiders, frogs, snakes and unfortunately some leeches (eek) and it was well worth the effort. And then to finish off our time in the park, we visited the Ranomafana waterfall.
Travelling north, back up to Antananarivo, we stopped at a town called Fianarantsoa. More lemurs awaited us, along with a stunning mountainous backdrop. A quick visit to a local winery also didn’t go astray.
Madagascar is full of surprises!
On arrival back into Antananarivo, we were taken to the highest point in the city – Queen’s Palace. Our knowledgeable guide explained the ins and outs of what once was home to the King and Queen of Madagascar.
And the view over the city below was not too shabby!
Due to my limited time I only had the chance to experience the first seven days of Bench Africa's 1000 Views of Madagascar. The time absolutely flew past, so I guess it is true what they say – time flies when you’re having fun! I would have loved to have finished the tour and had more time to travel in Madagascar. I would have loved to have visited Tsingy, Baobab Alley and a beach area, like Nosy Be. It would have been fantastic to see another side of Madagascar. Next time!
Madagascar is entirely different to anywhere I have ever been, and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of my travels!
Hopefully one day I am lucky enough to return to travel in the vast and diverse country of Madagascar.