Madagascar part 2
I’d seen many documentaries over the years on the Spiny Forest and its suite of unusual wildlife that has adapted to not only a semi-desert environment but also life in a world of ubiquitous thorns and spikes.
I wasn’t disappointed, the forest is an amazing sight with gnarly boabab trees towering above the thorny understory.
We spent three days in the Ifaty area, enjoying the forest, seeing Sportive Lemur and representatives of some of Madagascar’s endemic bird families like couas and ground rollers and of course partaking in the local seafood.
With our time over in Ifaty we drove north to the sleepy beachside town of Morondava.
After a three day drive we cruised into Morondava right on sunset.
Morondava sits on the coast overlooking the Mozambique Channel and is visited by tourists on route to Tsingy NP and the iconic Avenue of Boababs.
We didn’t venture north to Tsingy NP but I did partake in the third thing that Morondava is famous for…. seafood!
I could have easily booked into the motel across the road from the two main seafood restaurants for a month and spent lunch and dinner everyday at either establishment. The $7US seafood platter was amazing.
The main target in this area is Madagascar’s largest predator, the elusive Fossa. Its an incredible animal which looks like its half cat and half dog and some weasel thrown in.
Its equally agile high up in the trees chasing lemurs as it is on the ground thanks to retractable claws and a long tail for balance. Its total length including tail is 6ft.
I managed to get a few phone pics of what really is an extraordinary animal and then explored the nearby countryside, mainly taking photos of the local boabab trees.
The 2,000 year old, 30m tall boababs stand out above the surrounding vegetation and farmland and really do look magnificent either singularly or in strands.
Unfortunately slash and burn is still being conducted and we found a few strands which had been burnt. The locals don’t burn the boababs intentionally, rather their grass fires become uncontrolled and the trees suffer the consequences.
The plan was to drive north for two days and back through the capital, Antananarivo on route to Andranofasika and Ampijora NP, our first foray into the North of Madagascar.
After a couple of days in Morondava we were in the car at 6.30am to start the 2.5 days drive north. We made it 2km into town where the service station didn’t have any fuel. Five service stations later and no diesel anywhere.
They suggested the fuel truck would arrive later that afternoon which would put us several hours behind schedule and require a night drive, which would have to be in convey due to bandits.
Usually I would have jumped at the night drive and bandit option but with Lynda here with me and the thought that an extra two days in Morondava equates to another four seafood platters, we stayed in our beach bungalow for another two days and spent a nice sunset out amongst the boababs.
Our month on the red island was nearly over with just a drive back to the capital remaining. The drive would take two full days as our progress was delayed by two flat tyres and subsequent repairs in a small village along the way.
Madagascar is a large island and in a month we saw about 50% of what I’d like to see. The great thing about Madagascar is its diversity with amazing beaches, offshore islands, primary rainforest and semi desert, all packed with endemic mammals, birds and plants and surprisingly few tourists even though we were here in the busy season.
I could certainly come back for another month and visit a whole bunch of places we missed this time. Its one of the easiest African countries to travel around and once you’re hear everything is cheap.
We spent a free day in Antananarivo and then Lynda headed back to Australia while I’m waiting an extra day to fly to The Comoros.
I’ll be in The Comoros for three weeks hopefully visiting the three main islands, Grand Comore, Mohéli and Anjouan, with maybe a couple of days at the end on the French island of Mayotte.
Bye for now….