Monday, 4 October 2010

Madagascar: part 2

crafted in Ambositra
The second part of my Madagascar tour started the next day with the same driver/guide which drove me to Miandrivazo the previous week. We went southward again to Antsirabe on RN7. As i was ill and had diarrhea for 3 days i did not visit anything this day. We arrived early in Ambositra where i took my hotel room and watched some TV shows and slept early.

The next day i was feeling slightly better and ate a bowl of rice as breakfast. We went to look at a craftsman working with wood. They make wood artifacts with different wood colors patching them together making intricate designs.

The next stop on the road was the town of Fianarantsoa with its Haute Ville like the one in Antananarivo. The buildings Haute Ville of Fianarantsoa, unlike most of other buildings everywhere have been renovated.

Lemur in Ranomafana drinking
After this we moved on to Ranomafana National Park where we slept. The next morning we visited the park and its lemurs. There are several types of lemurs in the park. After the visit we went to the town of Ranomafana a little further on the road, and i took a massage and swam in the hot pool. Ranomafana stands for "hot water" (ran => water, mafana => hot). There i had a real close encounter with one group of lemurs, and particularly with one lemur. It came down to a tree trunk with water to drink. I was less than a meter away from it and could take pictures and movies as long as i wanted. In the park there were lots of tourist groups with guides. There were two guides without tourists tracking the lemurs for all groups. When they spotted some, we all went crashing through the forest trying to follow the lemurs.

Then we went on to the town of Ambalavao, where twice a week there are 2000 to 2500 heads of zebus sold. They are then driven northward. In ambalavao we visited a local paper factory where they make paper from a tree bark. They first boil it, then mash it, then dry it on rasters. Next we visited the local vine and wine factory. Actually they just explained me when it started and what types of vines were used. The wine is not wine, it's awful.

Then we drove on south for about 7km to the natural reserve of Anja (Association de protection de la nature et pour le développement durable Anja Miray). There i had two guides, one in tongs and one in sandals, to hike to the summit of the mountain and through the small forest which shelters Catta lemurs.

Mont Tsaranoro in Andringitra
From there on we drove about 50km to the reserve of Andringitra. It's off the main road on a trail. There are a few camps which are in the wilderness. I lived there in Tsara Camp. There were 3 types of hikes proposed for the following day: an easy walk through the forest, a medium hike to Chameleon Mountain and a good hike to Tsaranoro Mountain. I hesitated between the two latter and asked if there were some more people who would come, as there was only a group of 20 or so elder germans. They surely would have accepted me, but i didn't want to go with as many people. A french couple from France arrived later, and i asked them if they wanted to go on the Tsaranoro with me. They accepted and so we shared the fee and the hike :). Hélène and Cédric are two fun loving people. They like motorbike riding and live near Dijon. Later we exchanged our addresses. We hiked in torrid heat to the top which was 900m higher. Hélène and me were exhausted, but Cédric continued hopping around to make a panoramic picture from a viewpoint a bit farther up.
Isalo burning
The next day we left and went southward to Isalo National Park. When we left Tsara Camp we learned that Isalo was burning for two days already. The locals had burned their cultures and the fire escaped to the touristic part of Isalo. Most of the park cannot be visited, only a real small part is visitable. We went to the hotel, the Satrana Logde which has a magnificent view on the Isalo. Hélène and Cédric were located at the Isalo Ranch Lodge where we ate supper.

Diving into the natural pool in Isalo
The next day we could go to the park as the fire was almost out. In the morning we visited the Rat Canyon and the Maki Canyon which are cool and wet places in comparison to the normal dry and hot climate from the south. In the afternoon we visited the natural pool which was a oasis in this moon-like landscape. It's in a whole, which again is wet and humid. The cool water is really refreshing after this hike in the sun.

After this we took the road again, but left Hélène and Cédric behind. We drove to Toliary (Tulear) where we ate and then drove to a fishing town called St. Augustin. A little later the driver/guide drove me to the airport where i took my plane back to Antananarivo. This ends the second part of my Malagasy tour.