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Pictures of our Madagascar trip –
part 4: Antananarivo-Ankadibe (Lemurs)-Andasibe-Manambato-Foulpointe-Tamatave
Madagascar part 1: Tamatave-Andasibe (Lemurs)-Antananarivo-Antsirabe-Miandrivazo
Madagascar part 2: Miandrivazo-Morondava (Baobabs)-Antsirabe-Fianarantsoa-Ambalavao (Lemurs)
Madagascar part 3: Ambalavao-Isalo N.P.-Tuléar-Ranomafana (Lemurs)-R.N.7-Antananarivo
Madagascar Map
         Map of the Indian Ocean
latest picture: November 9, 2011
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223  Antananarivo, the capital of Mada-
gascar, has many fascinating corners
despite its chaotic hustle and bustle
224  Already on the outskirts of the
crowded capital Antananarivo rice fields
are spreading out – after the hectic and
chaotic city life a pleasant sight
225  Street kitchen line the way. Sweet
potatoes are one of the vegetables being
cooked on charcoal in the big pots
After Emil feels better, we are heading straight to the “Lemur’s Park”, situated picturesquely at the Sisaony River, 15 miles West of Antananarivo. With anticipated joy we are looking forward to another encounter with these cute fellows of which we have grown so fond of. Already when the gate opens at 9am, we are there, pay Aria 30’000 (US$ 14) for the two of us, including a guide, and join the first tour consisting of a Belgian and French guy with their English speaking guide. The first thing we experience is a fierce fight between two skink lizards. We watch how one is finally swallowing piece by piece of the still twitching tail it has just bitten off his enemy. “The victim will survive and its tail will regrow”, our guide appeases us.
226  After heavy rains and due to erosions,
the Sisaony river at the lemur park, 15 miles
West of the capital Antananarivo along the
RN1, got its reddish brown color of the soil
227  The crowned Sifaka
(Propithecus coronatus) is
peeking curiously through
the tree leaves
228  The Malagasy Giant Chameleon
(Furcifer oustaleti) with a length of
up to 27 inches is considered as the
biggest species of chameleon
Slowly our cute darlings appear one after the other, swinging from tree to tree: The Coguerel’s Sifaka, the Crowned Sifaka, the Common Brown Lemur, the Black and White Ruffed Lemur, the Lesser Bamboo Lemur, the Black Lemur and the Ring-tailed Lemur. “Who eyes whom?” we often ask when they are observing us jauntily from their vantage point.
229  We hear a fight and see this Skink
lizard (Zonosaurus laticaudatus)
swallowing the tail of its enemy. Our
guide says that the victim will survive
and its tail will regrow
230  “Am I not a cute fellow?” The
Coquerel’s Sifaka (Propithecus coquereli)
has a beautiful dense fur. It lives mostly
in a group with four or five others
231  “Am I not enviable?” The
Black-and-White Ruffed Lemur
(Varecia variegata) is endemic to the
island of Madagascar and belongs to
the threatened species. It is spending
most of its time in the high canopy
It is 10am, feeding time. This reserve is too small to be able to sustain the entire population with leaves. Therefore, they get some additional food – vegetables and fruits, the bananas being their favorite. Each animal has its own green feeding bowl thus avoiding any fights. We watch them nibbling for a while and then we continue to the two night active lemurs that are living in cages and fed with insects: The Greater Dwarf Lemur and the Gray Mouse Lemur, which indeed is not bigger than a mouse.
232  The Spiny-tailed iguana (Oplurus
cuvieri) is common in Madagascar. Its
special characteristic is the black collar
233  Is it not adorable, this little
Lesser Bamboo Lemur
(Hapalemur griseus griseus)?
234  Looks like the personified devil! This
Black Lemur (Eulemur macaco) lives in
Madagascar’s Northwestern rainforests
At the end of our two-hour tour we come to the enclosure of the radiated tortoises. They are just in a reproduction stage, bringing us back the troublesome memories of what we read on September 7th, 2011, in the "L’Express" newspaper: According to the report the police confiscated in villages in the South of Madagascar 8.2 tons (!) of smoked tortoises of these endangered species!
235  “No, I am not a mouse, I am a
lemur!” The Grey Mouse Lemur
(Microcebus murinus) is nocturnal.
It weighs between 2.0 to 2.4 oz
236  An appealing sight: The village
church West of Moramanga along
the RN2 is perched between a
mountain ridge and cultivated paddies
237  A blooming yellow Poui Tree
dots the Mangoro river bank
In the evening, we are back in Tana: “What next?” is now the question. Shall we drive the 620 miles one-way to the most Northerly point or concentrate on the East. Next day, on November 8th, a message in the newspaper makes our decision easier. It says that in the North the rainy season has just started and that some areas are already flooded.
238  Our LandCruiser drives through
the cobblestone main street of Andasibe,
a peaceful little village in the Eastern high-
lands, 16 miles East of Moramanga
239  Emil is trying hard to get
an internet connection over
the mobile net in Andasibe
240  Deep tropical greenery frame
the lovely church East of Andasibe
What a pity: Now we are just short of the three weeks we lost in the beginning when haggling around with the dragging car release and my following pneumonia. Considering also the problems we encounter with our shipping agent Auximad, which despite of numerous emails and phone calls makes not any move to start with the preparations of our forthcoming export shipment, our decision is quickly made: We have unfortunately to drop the North and drive instead leisurely to the East, back towards the port of Tamatave.
241  We are driving through dense
vegetation to the Mantadia
National Park near Andasibe
242  Women return from the market
and walk back to their remote village,
the goods placed on their heads
243  No reason for worries:
The little river to cross is
a breeze in the dry season
Two days later we are woken up once more by the “melancholic” call of the Indri in our bungalow at the hotel Feon’ny Ala in Antsirabe, where we make again a stopover. The entire lemur family joins into the chorus. This is the way they communicate with each other and with other groups and thus defend also their territory. It is estimated that the Indri lives between 25 and 40 years. Seldom have we felt the closeness to nature in such an extent like here, postponing therefore our departure day by day. Because we know for sure: It’s a once in a lifetime experience, because these lovable creatures live nowhere else on this planet – only on the island of Madagascar.
At the orchid park in Andasibe we discover:
244  A white “Angrecum“ orchid
245  A “Grammangis elisii“
(Grammatophyllum ellisii) orchid .....
246  and a beautiful stag horn fern
(Platycerium bifurcatum)
Sadness is taking over when finally after five happy days we are leaving behind the kings of the lemurs. We need to return to the port of Tamatave to arrange our next shipment – Auximad hasn’t done anything yet. After about 60 miles, right after Brickaville, a track branches off to Manombato at Lake Rasobe with a sign “Chez Luigi”. The name immediately rings a bell. “Did we not read somewhere that it is a beautiful place?”
In the flower garden of the hotel Feon’ny Ala in Andasibe we admire:
247  The Torch Ginger or
Porcelain Rose (Etlingera elatior):
A flower of great beauty
248  A Shell Ginger (Alpinia
zerumbet) with its hanging blossoms
249  A Golden Chalice Vine
(Solandra maxima) is flowering
between the foliage of a tropical tree
Spontaneously we branch away from the main road and follow the small track. It turns out to be a really bumpy and stony drive through one deep pothole after the other. Luckily the only river crossing is now during the dry season a piece of cake, because the rotten wooden bridge is definitely not trustworthy. A few modest thatched huts, forests of bottlebrushes and trees full of ripe red lychees line the path. Madagascar is the main exporter of this tropical fruit to Europe, delivering around 20’000 tons a year.
250  A pond dotted with tiny islets
of plants is a lovely sight a bit South
of Brickaville along RN2
251  How trustworthy is this wooden bridge
on the adventurous track to Manombato
on Lac Rasobe near Brickaville?
(turnoff = PK286 along RN2)
252  The mother has a smile for us
when we pass her modest home on
the stony track leading to Manombato
After 4 miles Lac Rasobe at Manombato is greeting us with an almost motionless surface and a long white sandy beach, shining golden in the sun. However, after all we are not ending up at “Chez Luigi” but at the Acacia Hotel 500 yards further on, where we find a lovely beach bungalow. Being noon, we let ourselves pamper right away with a tender Cebu Steak at the restaurant. How beautifully and peaceful life can be out here.
253  At Lac Rasobe, which is part
of the Pangalanes Canal, we find a
beautiful long white sandy beach
254  A group of people are walking
along the beach of Lac Rasobe
with their fishing net
255  The fishing group are returning with
their catch from the sea still carrying their
fronds with which they beat the water
to chase small fishes into the net
Fishermen are walking along with their fishing nets, canoes are bobbing up and down at the shore, women are washing their evening dishes and scrubbing their soot-black pots with sand before the sun sets. There is no electricity (our hotel offers electricity only from 6pm to 10pm with its own generator). When night falls we can detect only a very few lights flickering in the distance, making the starry sky above us shining even more intensively.
256  The sun is setting
at Lac Rasobe
257  A girl washes her dishes and scrubs
her sooted pots with sand before the sun
sets at Lac Rasobe. There’s no electrical
light at Manombato without
an own generator
258  The sun is rising at Lac Rasobe,
covering the almost motionless
surface in a red glow
At 5am dawn starts. There is no breeze. The lake looks as smooth as glass. Then the sun is rising, flushing the surface of the water with a soft pink. It is such a lovely moment that it intensifies our desire to stay a couple of days longer. There are two worries preventing us to do so: Our concern that the big rains, which can start now any time, would make the river crossing difficult if not impossible, and also the absolute inaction of the shipping agent Auximad in preparing out export.
259  The pineapple belongs also to the
tropical fruits growing in Madagascar
260  A life without hectic: A fisherman
is poling his canoe along the
Lac Rasobe shore
261  Ripe lychees hang from a tree.
Madagascar is the main exporter
of this tropical fruit to Europe,
delivering around 20’000 tons a year
Being cut off from the main road, would mean big troubles, particularly also regarding our permissions. Our car’s permit and also our visas on the island run soon out after three months and are non-extendable. Therefore we give us a kick and move on, hoping that the emergency repair of the main leaf spring that broke yesterday on that rough track will hold. Fortunately it does (it held during the whole stay on Réunion and still in Miri/Sarawak/Malaysia, and due to unobtainability it has to hold even longer). At noon we are already at the port city of Tamatave and are sitting at our favorite seashore restaurant: The “Ocean 501”.
262  Crossing a village on a market
day is always an exciting experience.
Here the one of Ampasimadinika
South of Tamatave (Toamasina)
263  No matter where and how
comfortable one sits – the main
thing is to get a ride. Taxi Brousse
are always overpacked
264  A little break: Pushing a heavily
loaded cart by hand is hard work –
for many though the only mean
to transport their goods
The pork sausage we are eating with such a pleasure, does not do us any good at all. Emil is the one who suffers the most. In Mexico one would name it: “Montezuma’s revenge”. Next day, he is sitting on the toilet with diarrhea more than 20 times within 12 hours. The second day it is not much better. The hotel Flamboyant where we actually wanted to spend only one night sends a boy to the pharmacy to get “Ercéfuryl” tablets that slowly improve the situation.
265  A fisherman does not know
any fear. Even the breaking of a high
ocean wave does not stir up his blood
266  Between Tamatave (Toamasina)
and Foulpointe (Mahavelona) at the
East coast, we pass a coastal stretch
with attractive views, be it with
traditional thatched huts …..
267  ….. or with an azure blue
lagoon and a white sandy beach
Then, it is my turn and during the third night the bathroom is continuously occupied by one of us. On the forth day, we are both up again. After having also dismissed the broker Auximad and initiated the shipping preparations for La Réunion in December with the more reliable “SDV Madagascar”, nothing can hold us anymore in this hot and humid port city. We move along the East coast towards the North.
268  An endless lonesome sandy beach
attracts us at the East coast between
Tamatave (Toamasina) and Foulpointe
(Mahavelona). Here we look
towards the North from …..
269  ….. our lovely picnic
spot near Vohitsara …..
270  ….. and here we look
towards the South
Our target is the highly praised “La Pirogue” Lodge in Mahango. There, we want to pamper ourselves with a few days “vacation” at the seashore. And once more it turns out to be pretty different from what we thought and expected. If prices for a bungalow with bunk beds in backpacker-style cost Aria 136’000 US$ 63) and for a more comfortable accommodation more than Aria 200’000 (US$ 93) – electricity provided for a few hours daily only – we are at the wrong place. We find “our” place a bit more to the South at Foulpointe at the Manda Beach Hotel: A lovely spacious bungalow directly at the beach with veranda, fridge and satellite TV, unfortunately no wi-fi. Therefore, we are for once prepared to dig deeper into our pocket as normal, paying Aria 99’000 (US$ 46) a night, enjoying ourselves for three days.
271  The beach at “La Pirogue” Lodge
in Mahambo at the East coast brings
back old memories of the Caribbean
272  White sandy beaches line the
remote East coast at Mahambo
273  A coconut vendor walks along
the beach seeking thirsty customers
December 6th, – our last holiday’s day at the beach. It dawns. We are sitting on the porch gazing out to the sea, to the dark clouds forming on the horizon and wait for the always beautiful moment of the sunrise. When its yellow ball appears the rays transform the lagoon into a silvery glow. We watch canoes punting through the almost motionless surface and white crest waves shooting high up along the reef – a magic moment. When we pack our belongings into the car to drive the 30miles back to the shipping port of Tamatave, the beach gets slowly alive with joggers, souvenir vendors and sunbathers. The deckchairs below colorful umbrellas start to fill up.
274  Brightly painted traditional fishing
boats line the Northern part of the
white sandy beach at the
Manda Beach Hotel in Foulpointe .....
275  ..... in the middle is the
lovely hotel swimming pool .....
276  ..... and on the Southern part
are the deck chairs where
tourists are sun tanning
One day later, on December 7th, 2011, we have to say good-bye once more to our trusty LandCruiser. Driving it into the container and lashing it has long become a routine to Emil. This is the 24th time! However, our “buddy” will still have to wait in the sweltering heat at the container yard of our agent “SVD Madagascar” until December 14th. The ferry “Trochetia” from Mauritius runs only once a month from Madagascar to the neighboring island of La Réunion. Unfortunately our three monthly visa already ends on December 11th, – three days too early to be able to join the ship as passengers.
277  The morning glow announces
a new day in Foulpointe
278  Foulepointe: Early morning, a
father glides with his canoe and three
children over the almost motionless
waters of the lagoon
279  A little boy plays with his
toys at the Foulpointe beach
There are still three days to go before our departure with Air Austral to Réunion – three days with headaches, because the scanning of our container in the port cannot be done prior to our departure due to capacity overload, what means: We will have to hand over the car keys. Also the big boss of the SDV agency insists. He explains in plain language that there must be the possibility to open the car in case something suspicious appears on the scanner. “What happens if we refuse”, we ask upset. “It is as simple as this: Your container will not be transported” is his clear and ultimate answer. Well, what choice do we have? After the boss guaranties that his people will supervise the procedure and that we can trust them, we finally back down. We fiddle a bit in surrendering only the key to the tailgate and lock the driver’s door with an additional padlock.
280  Playing cards is a popular pastime,
also at a beach shack in Foulpointe
281  A mother is weaving with
Raffia palm fibers a basket while
her two children watch her
282  At the Ivoloina River, 7½ miles
North of Tamatave men dive with
baskets for sand on the riverbed
that is used as constructing material
On our last day we let ourselves drive with the elderly “pousse-pousse” driver – the cycle rickshaw – through the streets of this harbor city. We draw in the last time the scent of the aromatic cloves that are spread out on clothes at the sideways to dry, watch for the last time the familiar colorful hustle and bustle, the women with their babies strapped to the back, the coconut venders with their highly loaded wooden cart, the improvised food corners – the unmistakably African way of life. Even the dusty potholed streets, at the moment adorned with the red flowering Flamboyant trees, we do consider not that bad anymore.
283  Is it not a lovely providence that
we drive past Santa Claus exactly on
December 6th, on our way back from
Foulpointe to Tamatave?
284  At a side street in Tamatave
three women are spreading out piles
of cloves on a cloth to dry in the sun
285  We smell the spicy scent of
cloves already from far away
When we carry our luggage to the waiting taxi, the “pousse-pousse” drivers who always line up in front of the Flamboyant Hotel to wait for guests, wave us good-bye with a hearty smile. It is December 10th, 2011, 1pm. Sadness takes over on our way to the airport. Madagascar – the special island in the Indian Ocean – will be history in a few hours. Who knows how it will look if we ought to show up – even without car – one more time in the future.
286  At the beach in Tamatave we
see mostly children bathing and
playing in the polluted water
287  Two fishermen pause with their
canoe at the beach in Tamatave
288  Liliana takes a bicycle rickshaw
(Pousse-pousse) to the supermarket
in Tamatave while Emil lies
down with a diarrhea
We covered a distance of 2’700 miles in 148 driving hours and got to know a population that – despite of its great poverty – shows a joy for life. The cute lemurs, the picture book villages in the highlands, the baobabs in the West, the colorful markets bursting at the seams and the artful rice terraces were each day a pleasant sight during our journey criss-crossing the country.
289  At Tamatave’s beach front piles
of young coconuts are on offer.
Passersby love to quench their thirst
with the vitamin-rich juice inside
290  At a street corner, a girl looks
after the banana stall together
with her little sister
291  In a neighborhood of Tamatave
school children are busy making hats
from leaves of the “Travelers Tree”
(Ravenala madagascariensis)
What we had preferred not to see are the many forest fires. 80% of the Madagascan forest is already irrevocably lost. The natural habitat of the lemurs gets smaller day by day. And what we had preferred not to read are the two depressing messages in recent newspapers: 233 Indri killed for bush meat, the biggest of the still living lemurs, and that 8.5 tons of smoked radiated turtles – both endangered species – were seized in villages in the South of the island. If this does not get under control very soon, Madagascar will be in no time not anymore the special island in the Indian Ocean where we had the privilege to tour and which will continue to live in our memories.
292  The Flamboyant Trees (Delonix regia)
in Tamatave are in full bloom when we
make the preparations for the shipment
of our LandCruiser after our three
months’ stay in Madagascar
293  Saying once more good-bye
to our faithful LandCruiser. Emil is
driving it in Tamatave into its
24th container with
destination: La Réunion
294  One of Liliana’s most treasured
pictures: What is this adorable little
girl from Tamatave with her
selfmade hat from the leaves of a
“Traveler’s Tree” thinking?
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