Madagascar 2019

Community Highlights Africa & The Middle East Madagascar 2019

31 August 2019

After some confusion over our bills at the hotel we finally sorted it out. Wherever we’ve gone people have found it very confusing to have two Jennifers. Add in another J name and this hotel got our bills completely mixed up.

We were at reception ready to go before 7am – the time we had requested an airport transfer. After more confusion we finally had a taxi for the short ride to the airport. Zanzibar airport is very small but that doesn’t mean it was quick or easy to check in!

Goodbye Zanzibar. We had a great time!

large_P1100456.JPG

We had two flights: Zanzibar to Nairobi and Nairobi to Antananarivo, with a short connecting time of just over an hour. What could go wrong! We made the second flight okay and it seemed much longer than four hours. On arrival in Madagascar there was mass confusion and nobody was helpful. There was an entry card to fill out – we saw people with the cards but couldn’t find any. A woman came along the line with a few cards but ran out when I got mine. Jude went searching for a card and eventually found one. Then we had to get a visa, which was simple enough, just had to pay USD37.

Around the luggage carousel was a mass of trolleys stacked with people’s luggage but we couldn’t find a spare trolley. We eventually got to the carousel and found my bag and one of Jude’s bags but not her second one. We waited and waited but no more luggage was coming out. Jude had to join the long line for lost luggage. By this time we had been there about two hours and I was worried whether someone would still be waiting outside for us.

I found our guide and Jude eventually got to the front of the long line. Arriving in Madagascar was a very stressful experience. Next job was to get some money. Visa cards are accepted more widely here but mine is Mastercard and that machine wasn’t working!

After the heat in Zanzibar it was a relief to walk out into a cooler evening. Antananarivo is the capital of Madagascar and is home to about 5 million people. Driving from the airport into the city it seemed like most of that 5 million people were out on the streets. I thought that spending the last month in East Africa would have prepared me for Madagascar but I was shocked by the level of poverty we saw on the drive from the airport.

We checked in to the Sakamanga Hotel and found our rooms after going along corridors, up and down steps, outside and back inside and up a flight of stairs. My room was like someone’s weird dream, a fantasy room with little lamps hidden behind things, paintings on the walls and ceiling, mosaics in the bathroom and stuff everywhere. I found the room a little unnerving but Jude loved it so we swapped and I took her nice normal room.

large_20190831_183909.jpg?auto=formatlarge_20190831_185634-001.jpg?auto=format

We went to the hotel restaurant for dinner, a French restaurant and the food was delicious. Here's my chicken breast with vanilla sauce.

large_20190831_193203.jpg?auto=format

Sunday 1 September 2019

We had a lovely breakfast at the hotel restaurant. The pastries were so good! Madagascar was a French colony before independence, which explains the beautiful pastries and the good food at the restaurant last night.

Our guide Nambi (short for some unpronounceable name) and our driver Stefan were waiting for us at 7.30am and we set off for a very long day of travel. The road coming out of Antananarivo was very good and the housing much better than we had seen yesterday. But the good road ended and the further south we got the worse the roads became. In some places the potholes were craters and Stefan had to dodge the holes and weave all over the road. The problem was there was quite a bit of other traffic, lots of taxi brusses (buses) and large trucks that break the road up even more. We passed a large truck that had lost the trailer (looked like the connection with the cab had sheared off) and a large truck that was bogged in loose dirt in a roadworks area. This road is not for anyone that suffers motion sickness, the country is hilly and the roads wind around and around, not a straight bit of road in sight. And Stefan was constantly beeping the horn when passing other vehicles and to warn pedestrians – a good thing but we had about eleven hours of it. Yes, eleven hours of travel today – at least it was more comfortable than the truck but it was still a tough day. But a tougher day for Stefan. He really had to concentrate on the narrow, winding, potholed roads. We had a few scary moments when other vehicles were far too close for comfort, but we got there safely.

There was plenty to look at along the way. Small communities lined the road and people walked along the edge of the road. Roadside stalls were set up, each area specialising in a particular thing – we saw stalls selling toys, avocados, geese, rabbits, musical instruments and oil from the geranium plants. Every bit of land is terraced and planted with crops - mainly rice.

large_IMG_4029.JPG

large_P9010513.JPGlarge_P9010556.JPG

There were also family crypts - the Malagasy people take out the bones of family members every seven years (I think he said seven?), clean the bones and re-shroud them, then have a big party.

large_IMG_4054.JPG

We arrived at our hotel in Ranomafana around 6.30pm. The hotel is lovely - it’s quite new and clean (much better than I expected).

This featured blog entry was written by MissWalker from the blog Jen's Journey.
Read comments or Subscribe

By MissWalker

Posted Mon, Sep 02, 2019 | Madagascar | Comments