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Last month, we spent 3 weeks in Madagascar.  My wife was, this time, traveling with me. 

 

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For the first night, we stayed at the Palissandre Hotel (www.hotel-restaurant-palissandre.com), in the center of Antananarivo.

The next morning, our guide and driver were waiting for us in the lobby.  After a stop at the Peyrieras Reserve, which is a good introduction to the island’s reptiles, we stayed a couple of nights in Andasibe to visit Mantadia National Park,  Analamazaotra Special Reserve and Vakona Island.  We stayed at Mantadia lodge (http://mantadialodge.com/) which is quite new and cosy, nothing more.  I will not say more on the area, the subject having already been widely and talentously developed by @Zim Girl in her report.

Then back to Antananarivo, for a night at Le Relais des Plateaux, to take the flight to Morondava, where another driver was waiting for us.  Our guide accompanied us.  There, we stayed a couple of nights at Chez Maggie Hotel which is a nice small beach hotel with a good restaurant (www.chezmaggie.com).  We went to the Baobabs’ Alley, around 25 kilometers from Morondava on the road to Belon’i Tsiribihina and the Tsingy of Bemaraha.  Nothing really exceptional.  Indeed, I think that landscapes before and after the alley, with  rice paddies and scattered baobabs, are nicer.  We also went to Andranomena Special Reserve also located along the road to the tsingy.

 

Then, early in the morning, we left Morondava on the way, a bit more than 200 kilometers, to Bemaraha.  It took us 10 hours, on a road all along in a sorry state, including two ferry crossings and a stop for lunch at Belo, to reach it.  The restaurant in Belo, called The Mad Zebu, was the only good surprise of the day.  It was really amazing to find a gourmet restaurant in this small secluded town.  Because of the possible presence of bandits, the section Belo/Bemaraha was made in convoy with a policeman armed in the first car and another in the last.  Along this section, these are just savannah landscapes.  I arrived at the hotel extremely tired, especially since I had been suffering, since the day before, intestinal disorders that lasted until I went to see a doctor, seven days later, in Antsirabe.  So the next day, I decided not to go to the tsingy and rest at the hotel.  The hotel where we stayed two nights was Le Soleil des Tsingy.  This is one of the worst hotels, I have had the opportunity to stay, in terms of atmosphere and organization and I was not the only one to think that among the customers.  Their way of functioning is governed by rigorous and inflexible procedures.  There are always one to two people outside the rooms who do nothing but seemed to be watching over the guests lest they steal a towel or any object from the room.  Each time we asked staff for something, they said that they had to ask permission from their management before we could access or mainly not to our request.  Guides are not allowed to go further than reception and drivers than their vehicle.  Bills have to be paid in the evening before departure.  And so on……..

 

And again an early morning departure to take the long road in reverse, this time only around 150 kilometers because our next stop was Le Relais du Kirindy (www.relaisdukirindy.com), 50 kilometers before Morondava where we stayed another couple of nights in order to explore the Kirindy Forest and try to see the fossa.  There were 2 night walks on the program.  I did the first one and decide not to do the second because I was still not very well and…. of course my wife saw the fossa.  On the section between Belo and Morondava, we crossed many cyclists.

 

Once again an early morning departure for a all day trip to our next destination, Antsirabe, south of Antananarivo.  The road this time, apart from a section of 20 kilometers just after Miandrivazo, where we stopped for lunch at the hotel Princesse Tsiribihina, is much more better.  Cyclists are stopping there just like at Le Relais du Kirindy.  Since Morondava the road had not stopped rising and we were now in the Hautes Terres, the highlands.  It was a succession of stunning landscapes until we arrived at Antsirabe in the end of the afternoon.  We stayed only one night at Hotel Plumeria (www.plumeriahotelantsirabe.com), the first and the last hotel with a shower worthy of the name but this is normal in the city of water.  Elsewhere during the trip, the water pressure was very low, in some cases reducing the shower to a trickle of water.  Antsirabe is a pleasant thermal city and also known for the STAR brewery and its craftsmen.  The next day in the morning, we visited the colonial center and some workshops specialized in the work of the zebu horn, the manufacture of models only based on recycled products and the work of embroidery tablecloths and table runners.  And then on the way for a second stay of one night at Le Relais des Plateaux.

 

The next morning, we took an early flight to Diego Soares, where a new guide and driver were waiting for us.  We made a short detour to the center of the city to buy vanilla and drove to Joffreville and The Litchi Tree guest house.  Once again, I refer you to @Zim Girl's report where this region is also widely described.  We stayed 3 nights at the guest house to visit Montagne d’Ambre National Park.  Our next stop was Ankarana Lodge just for one night on our way to Nosy Be.  We visited of course Ankarana Special Reserve.

 

View of the Diego Soares Bay from The Litchi Tree

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I must admit I was looking forward to those last three days at Nosy Be after spending so much time in a car mostly on damaged roads.  The landscapes, with rice paddies and mountains in the background, along this last section leading us to Ankify where we took a speed boat to Nosy Be.  Our excellent hotel there was L’Heure Bleue (http://heurebleue.com).  We visited Nosy Komba, the lemurs’ island, and Nosy Tanikely.

 

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Our trip was perfectly organized by Tamàna Tour in Antananarivo.  The pictures without filigrane have been taken by my wife with her cellphone.

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Thanks for the kind shout out @Bush dog.  Such a shame one of your hotel stays was not pleasant.  I do hope we are going to see more of your excellent photography.

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@Zim Girl

 

Your report is actually a little behind this trip.  I have always dreamed of going to Madagascar since my childhood.  This report has brought this old dream back to the surface.  My wife, whose mother tongue is not English, found it very well written. He helped him a lot in preparing for this trip.  She asked me to thank you for it.  The hotel itself is quite new with nice rooms.  The sinks are petrified wood.  The infinity pool is oriented to the west and overlooks a superb panorama. It's a bit of a mess to annihilate all this with a most unpleasant atmosphere.

 

There is more photography to come.  Thanks a lot for your kind words.

 

 

Sunset seen from the pool of Hotel Le Soleil des Tsingy.

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Correction of a sentence of the previous post :

 

It helped her a lot in preparing for this trip.

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Glad to see another Madagascar report as I am going in October! Sadly none of the same places you visited, other than Andasibe/Mantadia. I hope you will post some more of your excellent photos, especially from there :)

 

So sorry you fell ill...seems that is quite common for tourists in Madagascar. Do you have any idea what may have caused your distress? And what did the doctor give you to alleviate it?

 

 

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@janzin

 

Unfortunately, during the morning spent in Mantadia, it did not stop raining.  In the afternoon, it calmed down a bit and the next day, the good weather came back and did not leave us for the rest of the trip.  So we saw almost nothing in Mantadia.  As a result, the photographic hunt was very bad but we could still see the Indris at Analamazaotra the next day.  On the other hand, the end of the rainy season was still quite close and the forest, so still quite dense and the light not too good.  It was extremely difficult to have good pictures of indris and birds.  As for my intestinal disorders, I have no idea about their cause.  The doctor prescribed a clay-based powder (SMECTA), to be diluted in very little water and taken in small spaced doses, as well as, just in case, antibiotics.  It was very efficient.

 

Thanks a lot for your comments.

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Pictures taken in the Peyrieras Reserve.

 

Parson's chameleon (Calumma parsonii)

 

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This must be the female Parson's

 

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Elephant-eared chameleons (Calumma malthe)

 

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@Bush dog  I just love your photos. Madagascar remains high on my list of places I want to go on safari in the future. I will make it there and am eager to see @Sangeeta's trip report.

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wow, fantastic chameleon shots, especially the one with the tongue all stretched out...what a bizarre tongue!

 

more, more!

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Wonderful photos as always Mike

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A brilliant chameleon sequence. Great photos.

We visited Madagascar many years ago, so I read this with particular interest.

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Some more pictures taken in the Peyrieras Reserve.

 

Panther chameleon (Furcifer pardalis)

 

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Panther chameleons (Furcifer pardalis) perhaps the Tamatave or Maroantsetra form

 

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Panther chameleon (Furcifer pardalis) perhaps the Nosy Be form

 

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Surely Furcifer but that's all I can say

 

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Madagascar moon moths

 

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absolutely stunning

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@Bush dog I am really pleased my report helped inspire your trip.

Fabulous chameleon pictures!!

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@Zim Girl @Soukous @TonyQ

 

Thank you for your kind words.

 

Last batch of pictures made in the Peyrieras Reserve.

 

Golden mantella (Mantella aurantiaca)

 

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Panther chameleon perhaps the Nosy Be form

 

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Parson's female again

 

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One of the elephant-eared chameleon

 

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And the last one here, I do not know

 

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oh stop it Mike, these are too beautiful

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omg, more Wow!  That moth!

 

Can I ask what lens you were using for these chameleon shots? I'm still totally conflicted about what to bring.

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@Bush dog  as always I look forward to your report and your excellent photos. the chameleons are just brilliant, especially those hunting and made a kill (an insect!). 

yes - had to edit to add about those moths - they are gorgeous. a couple of them look like they are perched on some pupae? did they hatch from it or are they taking care of the pupae?

Very sorry to hear you took ill and it sounds like the food didn't agree with you and you suffered quite long from it. a week is pretty bad. I hope you are fully recovered from it. 

 

Looking forward to your shots of the lemurs!

 

 

Edited by Kitsafari
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@janzin

 

Once more thank you!

The lens is a Canon EF 100 mm f/2,8 L Macro IS USM.  Can I give you some advice.  As many visits are on foot, do not take too much material.  I had 2 cameras and most of the time I used only one, the EOS-1D X.

I had only 2 lenses, the one I mentioned and  the EF 70-200 mm f/2,8 L IS II USM + extender x2.

 

 

 

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@Kitsafari

 

Honestly, I do not know a lot about butterflies and moths.  So, sorry, I do not really know what they are doing.

I'm OK now, thank you.

Thanks also for your comments.

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3 hours ago, Bush dog said:

@janzin

 

Once more thank you!

The lens is a Canon EF 100 mm f/2,8 L Macro IS USM.  Can I give you some advice.  As many visits are on foot, do not take too much material.  I had 2 cameras and most of the time I used only one, the EOS-1D X.

I had only 2 lenses, the one I mentioned and  the EF 70-200 mm f/2,8 L IS II USM + extender x2.

 

 

 

 

Thanks for the advice, I am trying to go as light as possible, mainly because I've heard the airline there is very strict with carry-on weight. I am planning on just two main lenses, the 200-500 for birds and lemurs and then an 80mm macro lens which will go on my mirrorless Fuji (which hopefully will fit in my vest pocket.) So I am pleased to see you were able to get those chameleons using the macro.  For scenery I'll probably use my iPhone!

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@janzin

 

Regarding the carry-on-weight, at first they are strict but often after some discussions they allow you to go.  What is a bit irritating is that a few meters further there is again a weight control and you're back for a few minutes of explanations.  Just an example :  the guy sitting near to me on the flight Antananarivo/Diego Soares was a French professional photographer.  He had been authorized, after discussions, to take 26 kilos of material with him in the cabin.  If you can put one camera and a lens in a small bag like for instance the Lowepro Toploader or more simply hanging on your shoulder by the strap it will not be considered as carry-on-weight.

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