'Hi Derek, I've been meaning to email you. It was incredible, and more than lived up to expectations. I'm still a bit overwhelmed by it to be honest. In terms of wildlife, i had a bit of a mental list of things i'd love to see, and we saw everything plus more, most of which in the first few days!
Whilst we were away i was thinking of feedback for you. It was definitely the experience of a lifetime and it's really wanted to make me travel more having not been out of Europe for about 6 years - though i need to start saving. I'm incredibly glad you suggested the alternative itinerary to the original one... we saw so much,and it seemed like the perfect balance between busily doing things everyday at the beginning, to chilling out at the end, which i'll come on to.
Val, our guide was incredible. He was so helpful, and always went the extra mile. We have his email address, but i wondered if you could email his manager to say thank you, and just how much we enjoyed it and his organisation? Saying bye to him felt like saying bye to a new friend! On our last drive, Rachel wanted to see a local primary school if possible as she's a teacher, so she can show the children what schools there are like. Val arranged at the last minute for us to be shown round a school and introduced us to a teacher. It was little touches like that that were special. At times it felt a bit much having a driver, a general guide, and the park guide all for us, but i can see that it is needed.... and things like this made me realised why it does actually cost a lot to visit the country, which i think was my first question for you!
Mantadia Lodge - it said 'no frills', but we felt it was the most luxurious place we stayed so may want to ammend your description in the itinerary - it was way more luxurious than we were expecting! I liked that Val got to have dinner with us on the last night. Maybe some people would feel annoyed at spending money on this, but i think it's a really nice touch, and we were going to invite him for dinner with us anyway had this not been the case. (Night walks were amazing and we saw a giraffe-necked weevil!)
[Iharana] Bush camp - everything was amazing, but definitely worth saying how incredible the picnic on the top of the Tsingy was to watch the sunset - it was a complete surprise and a great experience!
Antoremba Lodge - I'm actually glad we didn't spend longer than 2 nights here, though because we were shattered from doing so much, it was a good chill spot for 2 nights. It's beautiful, but we definitely preferred the 'vibe' of Sakatia Lodge for our final 7 nights. Partly because Sakatia is much more set up for activities as it has its own dive centre, partly because of location - as Sakatia has more still, warmer waters due to it's protection form the elements, clearer waters and turtles that live outside the hotel! If anyone else was doing a similar itinerary, i'd definitely recommend Sakatia over Antoremba, it just seems better connected and well equipped for activities.
I hope that's helpful, and if you have any follow up questions, do just ask. I just want to say thanks again Derek, it really was incredible, and just writing this makes me so happy (and sad to be back home!) - i can't explain how perfect the itinerary was due to your knowledge.