Travel Website Logo
Travel Journal
Dan Walker’s Travel Website
Travel Photos

Travel Journal

Live the adventures of Dan Walker's travels through reading his travel journal. The travel journals are listed below in descending order of date. To search the travel journals, use the keyword search at the bottom of the page.

Journal Entry:

Wednesday, November 01, 2017 06:51:36

Madagascar 2017: 5 - Morondava and back to Tana

Saturday, October 28, 2017

The hotel people laid on breakfast at 5:30 to give us an early start for our last drive over the bone shaking road to the first ferry across the Malembulu River where, after going by ferry over the deep bit, we drove through the shallows to shore. More hours bounced by before we reached the Hotel Restaurant du Menabe in Bel Sur Tsiribiniha,where the always pleasant manager, Plessy Marie Josee, greeted us as old friends. Of course, I was wearing the hat she sold to me. Lunch was great once again – I had a plate of large river prawns.

While waiting for the Tsiribiniha River ferry a couple from London, England showed me video he took of a ferry loading cars on another river further north. One of the planks broke, rolling a vehicle into the water while he was videoing the boarding process. This was the first of many times we ran into them over the next days.

On the west side of the country there is a much larger Muslim population, and the call to prayer from the mosque could be heard clearly. In Bel Sur Tsiribiniha which has a government electric supply the ferry continues to run all year and the hotel stays open, however the route we will travel today in 4 hours would take between 10 and 12 hours in rainy season.

Instead of crossing the river as we did last time, we travelled upstream by ferry for quite a distance before coming to a different "road" to the coastal city of Morondava. It was flat country, with many baobab trees, but of a different variety – they are shorter and wider. We stopped to see a couple of trees that would take a lot of people holding hands to circle. Anthony said that the largest of these trees took 35 children holding hands to circle. When we came to the famous Allee des Baobabs we walked around, then drove to some rice fields for more photos of the trees and the people we met. It was back to Allee for the famous sunset behind the boababs, and then non-stop to Morondava. About 30 miles from the city things went silent in the car and it stopped shaking. It took a few minutes to realize we were on pavement!

Our driver unceremoniously off loaded our gear at the beautiful Palissandre Hotel and took off. The greeting at the hotel was with cold damp towels and ice cold drinks, which I followed with a cold beer. It was a long walk on soft, white sand to our cabin, but well worth the effort. It seemed everything worked, including a good shower in a huge bathroom and air conditioning. Mosquito nets enclosed the twin beds – we felt we were in the lap of luxury. Dinner choices were very limited, but the food was good. We were dead tired – 10 hours cramped in the car today and my knees were shot, so it was to bed right after we ate.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

We arranged to meet Anthony at breakfast at 9:30 to give us time to sleep in, have a long shower and generally just relax. After a good breakfast we took pedal cabs into the market area of the city. Being Sunday, not much was open. There are two huge mosques dominating the market area. We walked back to the hotel, stopping in waterfront bars and restaurants for cold drinks, then for a variety of seafood dishes in a quite exceptional place – calamari, jumbo prawns, shrimps all done in fabulous local sauces. Ginger is used a lot in cooking and makes for some pretty tantalizing flavours.

Once back at the hotel I lay down and fell into the deepest sleep I've had for months - Marilynn slept as well. We watched the sunset from a sand dune in front of our cabin, but chose not to walk the long distance to the beach. There are a lot of rocks in the ocean here, and it doesn't look like it would be worth the effort for a swim.

There was a cool sea breeze by the hotel pool where we had before dinner drinks until Antonio arrived. Unfortunately the internet remained down for the rest of our stay.

Monday, October 30, 2017

An easy morning. All we needed to do was have breakfast and pack - we arranged an 11:30 AM baggage pickup to carry our gear over the soft white sand between us and the lobby. Anthony set something up on Marilynn's cell phone this morning so it works as a server, which allowed me to get an update out.

I was able to pay the bill by credit card, but only after some drama and phone calls to the bank. A small taxi got us to the airport, where check in went more smoothly than I had anticipated. There was a sign for a boutique and bar, but when I checked it out the bar was a cooler about a foot and a half square with ice, one orange pop, one coke and two small bottles of water.

The ATR 72-600 plane was a very welcome surprise. It was quite new, with two seats on each side of the aisle. It was right on time, and I'd been given a front row seat with lots of leg room. The one hour flight went smoothly, and Anthony had arranged a car and driver to meet us. We drove a very long way into Tana before coming to the Akoa Hotel, which while clean was quite a few notches down from the last couple of nights, although it did have good internet. There was a bath tub but no shower, mosquitoes but no mosquito nets, lumpy mattresses, no sheets and a heavy comforter which when pulled up caused overheating but when not up one fed the mosquitoes. The bar and restaurant were also closed for renovations.

We taxied to the superb Dzama Cocktail Restaurant for drinks and dinner. The drinks were excellent and the food amazing – the chef deserves an award. We have had few finer meals anywhere

Tomorrow we fly to Fort Dauphin for 3 nights.