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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:

Tuesday, November 07, 2017 00:08:11

Madagascar 2017: 7 - Fort Dauphin to Ile St. Marie via Tana

Friday, November 3, 2017

After a fruit plate for breakfast and a 20 minute wait after departure time for two other guests, then a stop for gas, the hotel van got us to the airport just in time for the same Boeing to take us back to Tana. This was a full flight with no assigned seats, but Anthony got us onto the plane first and the three of us took over the bulkhead row, where my legs would fit. It was interesting that the Malagasy people did not show an inclination to push and shove to get onto the plane – they moved in a very orderly way. All passengers have their temperature checked when boarding and disembarking from aircraft, as the first sign of plague is fever, and in a country where air traffic is the only practical way to get around the spread of the disease is controlled.

One of the earlier drivers we had picked us up at the airport and took us to another superb restaurant for lunch, then to the super good Hotel Tamboho. It has a swimming pool, and our room looked out over a lake and rice fields. It was the best equipped and laid out room to date with a large bathroom and great shower. It has a bar and restaurant, and is located in a gated community with shopping malls, food court and so on inside the gares.

Anthony headed off to pick up his wife and son who should arrive from Brazil at 4 PM, so Marilynn and I walked around the very upscale shopping street across from the hotel, purchasing essentials at a large supermarket. A place selling ice cream settled one craving. Dinner was skipped due to the huge lunch, so after a couple of drinks we headed for the room for some much needed sleep.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

The same driver picked us up at 9 AM to take us to the Lemur Reserve about an hour outside Tana. Anthony will be spending the day with his family. The drive through traffic in the city was slow, but always fascinating. Roads are clogged by many high stacked carts pulled by man power, the occasional ox cart and a lot of cars. Sidewalks are crowded with street vendors with side by side tables selling everything from fresh produce to used car parts. Crowded sidewalks spill people into the streets, slowing traffic even more, with everyone seeming to be going somewhere or doing something. The streams and canals we crossed were lined with people fishing, doing laundry, kids swimming, everything is in motion

The lemur reserve is a must see. The entry fee is 30,000 ariary (a little under $9 US) plus English speaking guides work for a tip. We saw five or six different species of lemur. As they are not threatened here, they carry on their life with no fear of people – there were only 4 other tourists on the entire reserve. There are no cages, the animals and birds here are in the wild, although they do feed them. It is the season when babies are about 2 to 4 months old, so it was possible to get close to them as they played with their parents and each other – Marilynn undoubtedly took the best photos of the trip. It takes about an hour and a half to stroll through the reserve, so if you arrive by taxi have the driver wait, as waiting charges are not high.

Marilynn went for a haircut and pedicure across the street from the hotel after lunch at the busy food court while I caught up on writing. My knee is giving me some trouble, likely from being cramped in cars then getting the unusual amount of exercise.

We went for what was supposed to be our final dinner in Antananarivo at the Dzama Cocktail Restaurant, and once again it was excellent. The hotel arranged a taxi for us. To take us there, bring us back and wait outside the restaurant for over 2 hours while we ate, was 25.000 ariarys, or about US $7.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

This morning things fell apart pretty quickly. We were to leave at 10 AM to drive approximately 5 hours to the Andasibe National Park and stay there two nights, but once again transport was one car. I didn't think my knee would stand being cramped for that length of time again, so suggested we hire an extra car and driver, as Anthony says vans are not available. He called back to say both drivers he knows were unavailable, but that we could fly directly to Ile St. Marie first thing in the morning and skip the next 4 days activities. This was a very sad decision, but as there would be another 5 hour drive in two days we decided on the flight.

We also decided that as Ile St. Marie was only to be for an R & R beach stop for a couple of days, that we did not want to stay for an extra 4 days, so tried Air France for an earlier return flight to Costa Rica, but the change fee was 3,330 euros! I've never heard of a fee like that to change fights, so we stayed with the originally scheduled departure. Dinner was at the hotel, then to bed as departure will be early.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Anthony and a driver were at the hotel before 4:30 AM to take us to the airport, where we boarded the same configured ATR 72-600 plane that we flew in from Morondava. The plane wasn't sold out, so once the doors were closed the stewardess moved us forward to where there are two sets of seats facing each other, and lots of leg room. We had to disembark at the small west coast city of Toamasina for half an hour before continuing on to Ile St. Marie.

A driver picked us up to take us to our villa at the Vohilava Hotel, only a few kilometers from the tiny airport. There is a bar and restaurant building, plus a few villas stretched out along a white sand beach. Our villa was big, with bedrooms containing king sized beds and private bathrooms at each end, then a large dinning room plus separate living room in between. A kitchen opened off the dining room. On the side ocean side is a terrace the full length of the building about 5 meters wide, furnished with a dining table, table and chair groupings and a hammock. From there it is only a few steps across the sand to the warm ocean. A pier extended out some distance, as the water inside the reef is very shallow, but is a swimable depth off the end of the pier. Our villa comes with a charming maid who will work for us 10 hours per day, preparing meals, doing laundry, cleaning and shopping.

Our driver took us into a small village a few kilometers away to stock up on beer, wine, fruit and food. We had a superb lunch at a waterside restaurant, of which there we several in town. In the afternoon it was swimming, then dinner in our hotel restaurant, only about 10 meters from out patio. It doesn't appear we will suffer badly for the week we will be here.