Visiting Madagascar

Thomas and I just got back from our belated honeymoon trip, which we spent in Madagascar (with a few days in Instanbul to break up the travel).

I must say, I didn’t really know what to expect. Thomas had done the majority of the planning and fixing ahead of time since it was his idea—a childhood obsession with lemurs made this a dream destination for him his whole life. I expected to see lemurs and baobab trees and other beautiful nature, and in that regard it did not disappoint. But I didn’t realize that the majority of our days would be spent making 8- to 10-hour schleps in a 4x4 on poorly maintained roads to slowly make our way to our destinations. It certainly allowed for a lot of time to watch the scenery change as we passed from highlands to rolling hills, from golden savannahs to rainforests, and beyond. It allowed for a lot of reading—I started and finished the Broken Earth series in the matter of a few days. And I spent a lot of time thinking. We passed through countless villages lacking basic infrastructural things we take for granted in the western world such as electricity, waste management, maintained roads, clean water, access to technology—it’s impossible not to feel very “other” from people whose reality and life experience is completely separate from my own in so many ways.

That said, it was a great trip. Here are some highlights:

1. Tsingy de Bemaraha

This park took 2 days to travel to, and 2 days to come back from, along mostly dirt roads with various water crossings. It’s in a very remote area. But you can see it’s appeal—craggy erosive limestone formations as far as the eye can see. Our trek took us through the rainforest canyons (which felt very Legends of the Hidden Temple), into caves with stunning stalactites, and then up and around the tops of the Tsingys, where carefully constructed routes complete with cables and platforms gave us safe passage.

This, as far as the eye can see.

This, as far as the eye can see.

Thomas on an actually-quite-safe-feeling suspension bridge on top of the tsingys.

Thomas on an actually-quite-safe-feeling suspension bridge on top of the tsingys.

2. Avenue des Baobabs

The majority of species of baobab trees in the world grow only in Madagascar. This stretch of road off the western coast of the country is arguably one of the best places to see them and experience their grandeur.

These baobab trees are insanely tall and strange

These baobab trees are insanely tall and strange

With a Jenna for scale

With a Jenna for scale

3. Ring-tail lemurs

We saw many different types of lemurs—brown lemurs, jumping rat lemurs, sifakas, greater bamboo lemurs, golden bamboo lemurs, mouse lemurs—but the most charismatic of them all is definitely the ring-tail. They are like if you combined a cat, a raccoon and a monkey all into one bouncy, cuddly, curious creature. Watching them effortlessly hop and climb around the forests provided endless entertainment.

IMG_9382.jpg
IMG_9504.jpg

4. Tsaranoro Valley

The Yosemite of Madagascar. A little known climber’s heaven, this valley off the side of the larger Andrigitra Park features huge granite massifs comparable to our beloved California park. It sees only ~2,000 visitors per year. A french climber runs a hotel nearby to cater to the climbing crowd.

IMG_9435.jpg
JennaComment