In May our Head of Reservations, Amber Meyer, was lucky enough to go on an agent familiarization trip to Madagascar. Tough job, but someone’s got to do it! She shares her experience and highlights below:
As with all trips to Madagascar, our trip started and ended in the capital city of Antananarivo, called Tana for short. We did a Tana city tour that was very interesting. It’s a bustling city with crazy traffic and a hectic pace, which is quite a contrast to the rest of Madagascar.
We stayed at the Ibis in Tana and also did some site inspections, specifically at Colbert Hotel, Residence Lapasoa Pallisandre Hotel & Spa, and Sakamanga, which were all in the city as well as Relais Des Plateaux which is close to the airport.
After Tana we went to Andasibe which is a small town surrounded by reserves and parks, the distance isn’t too far from Tana if you only have a short time in Madagascar, and it’s a great place to see the famous lemurs. We stayed at the Andasibe Hotel. In Andasibe we did a lot of walking and even cycling. We did a night walk along the perimeter of Andasibe National Park to spot the nocturnal animals, as well as a full day park walk the next morning at Analamazaotra National Park, and then even a village walk. The walks weren’t at all strenuous, but the Andasibe Cycling Experience was a bit more active, especially some of the hills! It was definitely a great way to see and experience the area.
Our next destination was the south of Madagascar, to visit magnificent Manafiafy and Mandrare. Manafiafy, in particular, was very beautiful. It’s very remote and relaxed, one could easily spend a week there. The agents were also very excited about the kayak options at Manafiafy. One of them even enjoyed an early morning solo trip. We stayed at Manafiafy Beach and Rainforest Lodge which is a great example of barefoot luxury. In Manafiafy we did a village walk that stood out especially, the people were so kind. Even though they live to hand to mouth they seemed incredibly happy and peaceful. It was a real sense of back to basics, simple living that gave a sense of peace. We also did a stunning Mangrove cruise, as well as a hike over a hill to see some lemurs and lastly a lovely picnic on the beach where some of the guys went snorkeling.
In Mandrare we stayed at the luxurious Mandrare River Camp. There we visited the unique Spiny Forest as well as the Sacred Forest which was very special. What was really wonderful about Mandrare was that we had dinner in a different venue every night, one night it was 300metres away from the lodge under the trees. On the last evening we had dinner amongst the baobabs, and saw the most amazing traditional dancers, really exceptional – best I’ve seen in my travels through Africa. The locals also showed us how to make a fire using sticks, which was very interesting. We were treated with snacks and champagne, a really great way to end of the trip.
Our group was a great mix of people with ages ranging from 30 -69 years old, and an assortment of nationalities, Canadian, American, German, and South African. Everyone got along very well. It was everyone’s first trip to Madagascar and they all said it was one of the best trips they’ve ever been on.