10 days - July 2019
Change of scenery and rhythm, we leave Tulear to drive through the road of Baobabs!
Our mission: 1000 km of sand tracks in 8 days, let's go!
Day 1: Tulear to Tsiandamba: 3 hours of sand tracks.
Unfortunately taxi-brousse circulate very little (if at all) on the west coast, so it's with Heri (strength in Malagasy), and its humor, good mood and big Land Cruiser that we go on an adventure. Soon the paved road built by the Chinese stops and we drive on a track made of sand and rocks. We are shaken and it is nauseous that we arrive three hours later to the small village of Tsiandamba and more particularly to the friendly Alberto at "Un peu plus au nord."
The turquoise sea, the white sand, the delicious fish kebabs and the few bungalows make us really happy. There is no fresh water here and it is from Tulear that Alberto gets delivered.
Our program is easy, long walks on the beach and in the village where there are hundreds of children playing. We are the only Vazaha in this little paradise.
We are cradled by the waves in a beautiful bungalow made of wood and we had a bucket shower and we use dry toilets under the stars with a view on the beach of course. We feel good!
Day 2: Tsiandamba to Salary.
A morning in paradise followed by 30 minutes of sandy tracks to reach a village a bit bigger, Salary. The makeshift huts are built on the white sand and overlooking the turquoise sea but we are witnessing again scenes of extreme poverty ... No easy life in Madagascar ...
Today is an important day for Madagascar, the football team plays the round of 16 of the CAN! The only TV in the village is requisitioned but first of all it is necessary to dismantle, repair and supply the generator to start it.
7pm and the game starts and we join a dozen of Malagasy for 2 hours of game and some penalty shoot. The suspense and the atmosphere are there, 4-2 during the penalties, Madagascar won and continues in the quarterfinals! Go Bareas!
Day 3: snorkelling in the morning and canoe in Salary then 3 hours of track to get to the Baie des assassins.
New early wake up to embark on a sailboat that will take us to the coral reef. Few fish, little visibility, damaged corals, it will not be the boat trip of the century but we enjoy swimming in the open sea and sailing.
Here too, the marine life is damaged, there are no more sharks, the trawlers present offshore have destroyed the ecosystem ... We will meet Alex and Tim, two passionates and researchers in sea cucumbers who manage a community farm in Madagascar and soon will open a new one in Tanzania. Exciting !
This encounter takes place at Pierrot Le Suisse, a Swiss immigrant in the Baie des Assassins! In the nineteenth century an English ship ran aground and sailors were slaughtered in the bay. On our side, no worries, we were very well received and we are still alive. The house overlooks the bay, at the top of a hill, which allows it to be surrounded by water at almost 340 degrees, impossible to miss a sunset. How beautiful.
Day 4. Morning Walk then 3h30 of driving on tracks to get to Morombe.
We can not get enough of the view from Pierrot but we make him some infidelities walking along the beach to the south. Two hours later we arrive at the nearest village (maximum 50 inhabitants, with very fragile cabanas ...) and are captivated by the white sand, the dune, the turquoise water. The children here are curious and happy to see us here. What a panorama!
At this moment we meet Pierrot the Swiss and it's hair in the wind standing at the back of his quad that we go home, on the sand tracks, stooping like video game characters as soon as we go under a tree! Be careful with the branches! Great feeling.
It is already time to leave this paradise and we return back to the land to reach Morombe by the sand tracks. Hundreds of baobabs are around us, some more than 70 metres high, others very large.
We love them so much. The track not as much less and we are constantly shaken. What an adventure.
Day 5: Morombe to Manja road. 8 hours.
A day of driving inland. Here villagers dictate the law and every passing car (very little) has to pay a right to pass. Nothing official, it is more of an organized racket ... Hard negotiations, Heri never lose the case and negotiates with more or less success 18 "tolls" in 100 kms ...
We do not understand much but we will remember one thing, the "haaaaaaa" that come from the throat and are signs of discontent.
The river is afloat and we can not cross it despite the Land Cruiser so we have to take the ferry.
No gasoline for the engine or engine down we do not understand too much, thirty men will pull the tray with the car. Surrealist scene that testifies how developed the country is …
Day 6. 4 hours of tracks, quiet afternoon (and work) in Belo sur mer.
New early alarm to get to Belo sur Mer.
New "tolls", some rivers to cross, a "village" of a few souls every 30 km, we have the feeling of being far from everything, totally disconnected.
Then the baobabs give way to infinite plains of sand and salt, this isBelo sur Mer, a village of 800 inhabitants, cut off from the world 5 months a year during the rainy season. Small village famous for the construction of marine dhows coming from France. Many cabanas are built around baobabs, it must be nice to have a baobab in the middle of the living room ;)
This evening is no exception to the rule and the sunset will be incredible.
Then came quarter-final time! A projector is installed in the village, Madagascar is quickly dominated and the battery of the projector will let go, no third goal for the spectators ...
Day 7. Day at Kirindy Mitea.
Two hours in a pirogue on the open sea, big waves that almost overthrow us several times and we arrive at the Kirindy Mitea National Park. The dunes surround us as well as the baobabs. We walk a few kilometers to meet pink flamingos (not very pink) and endemic plants.
Then aboard our canoe, we join the mangrove and see thousands of bats! What a show.
Then on the menu, huge fish that we will have trouble finishing. A delight.
An ideal day in this little paradise!
Day 8. Kirindy Mitea Park. Last tracks (4 hours) to reach Morondava. Then sunset at the famous Alley of Baobabs.
A new early call, we are surprised to see the village already in action.
We reach again Kirindy Park Mitea but land side this time. Our goal: observe lemurs and baobabs and lemurs on baobabs!
We will see three but stealthily, our dear lemurs move quickly and jump from branches to branches.
Then our stay in Madagascar comes to an end. The tracks still shake us as much and at the turn of a bend we see an asphalt road, we have never been so happy to see a real road! (though with many holes we are still in Madagascar!).
At sunset we go to the famous alley Baobabs. About fifty baobabs stand, 70 meters high. We are witnessing beautiful scenes of life with some taxi-brousse out of age, some rickshaws, children everywhere and ... tourists! During this month we saw a maximum of twenty tourists and here there were whole buses, 4 * 4.
This does not ruin the moment, the sun goes behind the baobabs, then disappears leaving in its wake orange, yellow. That's wonderful.
Day 9/10: go back to the capital city, Antanarivo with a stop in Antsirabe that we already know.
We leave the west coast to reach Antanarivo. New landscapes, there are a lot of height difference, rice fields and red soil typical of Madagascar. We go along the Tsiribinihena river that many travelers decide to go down in pirogue. In the river we will see many gold diggers who tap the rock, crush it and sift it. Hard work under the sun, many children at work always... ...
And this is how we finish our month in Madagascar!
# transport: we highly recommend Heri, great knowledge of the country, very good behavior and good mood.
150,000ariary price per day for car and driver / guide. Fuel to add.
- Un peu plus au nord: beautiful bungalows and an outstanding cook. 100,000 ariary a night, 20,000 per main course. Incredible little paradise!
- Sirène del Mar in Salary: we do not recommend at all. The bungalows are not well maintained, the food is not tasty and not good at all, the owner Francesco alcoholic and mistreats his teams. Spend more time at Alberto's "Un peu plus au nord" and skip Salary.
Bungalow at 100,000 ariary and main menu at 20,000 ariary. Canoe trip at 50,000 ariary per person.
- Chez Pierrot le Suisse: incredible cuisine and hospitality. Large bungalow of 8 people. 120,000 ariary. All inclusive meal (and so good) at 30,000 ariary.
- Morombe: night at Katia's. Perfect room for 80,000 a night.
- Manja: there is only one hotel, Chez Kanto. We had horrible echoes, finally it's not great but it could have been much worse. 51,000 at night. 5,000 the main course.
- Belo sur Mer: beautiful bungalow at Dauphin Vezo. 108,000 ariary. The meals are excellent too, about 20,000 the main course.
- Boat trip to get to Kirindy Mitea: 350,000 Ariary for 4. Park entrance: 45,000. Guide 30,000 per day.
- Morondava: night in La Capaninna. Great room for 80,000 ariary and very good pizzas.
# tolls: the driver / guide negotiates each time with the villager (s) who manage the "toll" barrier. Between 500 and 15,000ariary per toll. These practices are challenged by all the drivers and guides who denounce them to the government that we hope will react.