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Madagascar Remembered

November 23, 2015

Amazing. I think that word best sums up Madagascar.

For quite some time we had been hearing about how wonderful Madagascar is and that we should plan on giving Madagascar plenty of time. We miscalculated!

We got to spend approximately 6 weeks along the coast, ducking into bays, anchored in exposed offshore islands and sitting in river mouth entrances as well as spending time in the discos of Nosy Be! We loved it. From a boating perspective it can hardly get better. The winds are constant and predictable on the northwest coast, the anchorages are secure, the food is excellent and the people friendly.

From the chameleons to the lemurs to the crocodiles you have to love Madagascar for the wildlife. The countryside probably hasn’t changed in decades. Land transportation along roughly hewn roads takes hours to get anywhere and thus its boats that run everywhere. Not fast ferries but rather the old dhows with a occasional outboard powered pirogue or a very small coastal steamer.

Try flying. Or better yet try booking a flight within the country. Everything is booked solid and even though you may have a ticket in your hand it’s not uncommon to hear your seat is gone when you get to the airport. Air Madagascar does not have a reputation for courteous, friendly and efficient service.

So, that’s why the best way to see Madagascar is by water. Venturing off and away from Nosy Be, a small but popular tourist area, takes you into places that still have no electricity, residents move by sailing dhow or pirogue and life moves at the pace of the changing cycles of the moon. There are still plenty of fish in the sea to sustain the family, land available for small-scale cultivation and just enough rainfall to support their basic needs.

What we loved most were the sailing dhows both big and small. There was always a smile and an enthusiastic wave between ourselves and the dhows as we each measured up the others boat. The locals know the winds and shoals as well as the currents and inevitably, if going the same way, can sometimes out-sail our modern boats. But whenever we pass close there are always big smiles and it seems to be when the locals are out on the dhows they provide a little bit of a break in an otherwise hard scrabble life.

Here are a few pics from our Madagascar picture book:

The modern and the old.

The modern and the old.


The ylang yland factory/farm. Used as the bases for a lot of perfumes. The copper kettles used to extract the oils are over 100 years old

The ylang yland factory/farm. Used as the bases for a lot of perfumes. The copper kettles used to extract the oils are over 100 years old

These guys are everywhere

These guys are everywhere

Chamelions come in all colours

Chameleons come in all colours

More chamelions

More chameleons

I know. It's not a chameleon but I couldn't resist

I know. It’s not a chameleon but I couldn’t resist

Slow, old and wise

Slow, old and wise

And then there are the lemurs – irresistible

Our favourite lemur

Our favourite lemur

No-one is going to take my banana

No-one is going to take my banana








And then there are the people:

The people were friendly and helpful and stylish!

The people were friendly, helpful and stylish!


It's a very young country. Average life expectancy is 45.

It’s a very young country. Average life expectancy is 45.


Always friendly faces

Always friendly faces


Great handicrafts

Great handicrafts


Incredible old house that once belonged to one of the early traders from India

Incredible old house that once belonged to one of the early traders from India


And I leave you with an iconic Madagascar picture of a baobab tree.

Baobab Tree - Marumba Bay

Baobab Tree – Marumba Bay



Books of note recently read:
Muddling Through Madagascar by Dervla Murphy – a wonderful travel story about Dervla and her 14 year old daughter walking through a large section of Madagascar in the 1980s. Reading this just emphasized that things have changed very little in the last 30 years.
The Orphan Master’s Son – a chilling novel set in modern day North Korea. It doesn’t instill much desire to visit/experience North Korea. A kafkaesque nightmare of life and survival in an autocratic regime. It’s a Pulitzer prize winner.
Hardboiled Wonder and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami – for Murakami fans, and I am one, a wonderful stroll through the baffling and strange mind of Murakami.
Looking for Lovedu by Ann Jones   – a saga of overland travel by two young adventurers who travel from northwest Africa to Capetown by Land Rover passing through Morocco, Western Sahara, Senegal, Mali, Nigeria, Zaire, Tanzania, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and finally Sputh Africa.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Darrel and Loretta Smith permalink
    December 8, 2015 14:54

    Great photos. All your hard work is paying off. Warmest wishes, L&D xx

  2. December 8, 2015 17:07

    Glad you could spend some time
    in Madagascar . Great photos.
    What about your Diesel engin?
    All the best from France. G.M.M.

  3. Wayno permalink
    December 8, 2015 17:14

    Wonderful episode.. lovely photos especially. I reckon I’m going to Sputh Africa one day.

  4. Anne Boldt permalink
    December 8, 2015 21:26

    You missed your calling as a travel writer!
    Annie B. in Rincon de Guayabitos now.

  5. December 8, 2015 21:52

    Tony, Connie:

    Fabulous pictures as ever. Looking forward to what you post from SA.
    Happy Christmas.

  6. December 8, 2015 23:12

    Beautiful! Have always wanted to check that place out.

  7. Pippa permalink
    December 8, 2015 23:20

    Such a delight to open this up on a grey rainy day in Victoria. Loving living vicariously through you ….thank you . Pippa and Penny

  8. December 8, 2015 23:42

    Happy holidays from the grey land of rain and wind. What a beautiful part of the world

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