Falling for Madagascar
As our travel specialist Fiona excitedly prepares for her next trip to Madagascar, she reminisces about her first trip to the incredible country.
In May this year I embarked on my first trip to Madagascar. While not apprehensive I was unsure if Madagascar would be the place for me. Having spent six and a half years living and travelling on mainland Africa, a continent that I love with a passion, I was unsure of what was on offer in Madagascar. While I love being on safari in Africa, watching big game and elephants in particular, Madagascar is very different and I was unsure if the wildlife or country would give me the same thrill and sense of longing that I have for the African Mainland.
On arrival into Antananarivo airport I was welcomed by the usual hustle and chaos of many African Airports. Immigration and arrivals were the normal organised chaos that gave me a sense of familiarity. Antananarivo is an interesting, busy and beautiful city. Steep cobbled hills surround Lake Anosy in the centre of the city. One of the hills there is an Antananarivo sign reminiscent of the Hollywood sign just in case you were confused as to which city you were in. The sign is a left over from the previous president Andry Rajoelina (or colloquially known as the DJ president). Antananrivo reminds me of a quaint French village on the side of a hill, beautiful and ethral at the same time.
While the wildlife of Madagascar is amazing and very unique, what I found the most interesting was the people and culture; walking around the local markets, interacting with the community and learning about this island’s rich history. There is many similarities with the mainland African continent which makes me smile, hearing the odd Swahili word in the hustle and bustle of the village market and instantly feeling at home.
The landscape is as diverse and interesting as the people that inhabit the island, ranging from dry arid land to lush green rain forests but all full of interesting and unique wildlife. On my last trip to Madagascar I headed to the Tsingy in Bemaraha National Park. These sharp pinnacles reach up out of the forest and are produced due to the erosion of the limestone massif by acid rain, creating one of the most spectacular sights I have ever seen. On my next trip I am heading to the Tsingy in the North of the Island at Ankarana National Park. I am excited to make my way through these formations which are interspersed with forest. It really is hard to describe these amazing sights, with photos never doing them justice.
I am about to embark on my second trip to Madagascar in a few days and can not wait to explore Ankarana, Amber Mountain, Andasibe and the Pangalanes canal. Despite my reservations, Madagascar definitely has a place in my heart.