We recently took a group of agents on a fam trip to Madagascar to familiarise themselves with what exactly it has to offer, to learn the ins and outs, and to become the Madagascar experts that will sell this destination to intrepid travellers around the world. Our marketing specialist Nicole had a wonderful time with the agents and took the opportunity to share the details of their adventure with us…
When I was told that I would be going to Madagascar, I was filled with ideas of how the country would be and upon arriving in the capital city, Antananarivo, I was not disappointed. Madagascar is beautiful and astonishing. The streets are bustling with thousands of cars and people all on their way to the local markets and shops. Meeting up with the group that would become my companions for the next 10 days in Madagascar was terrific, we all got on so well and shared a rather large amount of beers together over the coming days. In Tana we stayed at the Hotel Royal Palisandre which had the most amazing views over the city from its lovely deck.
Travelling from Tana to the northeast into the rain forest of Andasibe opens your eyes to the beauty of the island. The forests clutch at the road the entire way and looking out the window you realize how lucky you are to be in such a beautiful place. Arriving at our accommodation, Vakona Lodge, took our breath away; built in a small valley with Lemur filled rainforest surrounding the lodge is utterly picturesque. Hearing the Indri Indri sing at 3 am in the morning is possibly the most beautiful thing I have ever heard in my life. A highlight from my trip to Madagascar was Lemur Island. Being able to get up close and personal with a few species of Lemur was something I will never forget. Having a black and white raft lemur climb onto my head and sit there allowing us to take a picture is a memory etched very clearly into my mind.
After 2 days in Andasibe, we travelled south. The visuals from the bus window changed vastly. No more rainforest, but all the hills had been carved out and beautiful vibrant green rice paddies were visible wherever you looked. The traditional houses dotted along the roads changed too, specific to each culture and area and so very pretty with their glassless windows and blue painted balconies. The people working in the fields, every day, all day, made you realize how hard a life some Malagasy people have, yet how proud they are of what they have, it was very humbling.
The days were filled with scenery, many species of lemurs and chameleons, and walks in the forest. Time was running away from us, and we just didn’t want it to end. On the night walks along the periphery of the rainforest, what stood out was the cacophony of noise, the sounds of the frogs, the chirps of the crickets, the forest was awake all around us and it was mesmerizing.
Then the day loomed, the one in which we were all looking forward to; our hike through Ranomafana National Park. Filled with wet rainforest floors and noises that cocooned us, the walk to find more Lemur species along with our expert guide was immensely satisfying. The walk is not for faint-hearted and can be rather hard at some points, but the prize at the end was all the different species of animals, insects, and amphibians, most only native to Madagascar and not seen anywhere else in the world.
Returning back to where we started, Antananarivo, it seemed that our tour ended in the blink of an eye, having experienced this country I can only wish more people would go. Madagascar was surprising, around every corner there was something that you just did not expect, such as wine tasting at a vineyard on the side of the road, the people are awe-inspiring, and their culture is beautiful. For the avid traveler, with adventure in their heart, Madagascar is the place to have at the top of your bucket list.