In Deutsch




Pictures of our Madagascar trip –
part 1: Tamatave-Andasibe (Lemurs)-Antananarivo-Antsirabe-Miandrivazo
Madagascar part 2: Miandrivazo-Morondava (Baobabs)-Antsirabe-Fianarantsoa-Ambalavao (Lemurs)
Madagascar part 3: Ambalavao-Isalo N.P.-Tuléar-Ranomafana (Lemurs)-R.N.7-Antananarivo
Madagascar part 4: Antananarivo-Ankadibe (Lemurs)-Andasibe-Manambato-Foulpointe-Tamatave
Madagascar Map
         Map of the Indian Ocean
latest picture: October 10, 2011
  • click a picture to see details

September 13th, 2011: The prop plane ATR72 of Air Austral is landing smoothly after 110 minutes at the airstrip of Tamatave (Toamasina), the port city of Eastern Madagascar. Shortly afterwards we are at the “Visa on Arrival” desk right at the entrance. There are no papers to fill out, we just have to pay. A three months not extendable visa costs € 60. “We have no Euros. Can we pay also in US$?” we ask the dark-skinned man behind the desk. With disbelief he looks at us. “Vous n’avez pas des Euros?” (“You have no Euros?”). We shake our heads. For him it seems hard to understand this because the airplane comes from Réunion, a Euro-country. Only when we explain that we boarded in Mauritius and that Réunion was only a transit stop, he consults his conversion table. US$ 90 per person is the equivalent, he tells us. Then everything goes straight forward and soon after we are lining up in the baggage claim area.
001  September 13th, 2011: Liliana smiles!
We are on our way on a prop plane ATR72
of Air Austral from Mauritius to Tamatave
in Madagascar, the 4th biggest island in the
world, the land of Lemurs and Baobabs
002  The center of the port city of
Tamatave (Toamasina) on the East
coast of Madagascar greets us with
a lovely alley of palm trees
003  Reunion with our LandCruiser after
nine days of customs bureaucracy. The
truck with our container maneuvers to a
platform (wall) – the only possibility to
unload our car outside of the port (within
the harbor it’s anyway prohibited)
There is no conveyer belt. Each luggage is handed over personally and that only after having presented the voucher. There is no “green channel: Nothing to declare”. Everybody has to open his suitcases and bags in front of one of the three customs officers standing behind a long bench. Being tourists, the search of our luggage is very rudimentary. What a delight to finally be able to step into this special corner of the world after all the time consuming bureaucratic struggle to get a temporary admission for our LandCruiser. Having been separated 80 millions years from the African mainland, this island in the Indian Ocean has developed its own fauna and flora. After Greenland, Papua New Guinea and Borneo it is the 4th biggest island of the world and measures 1’000 miles from the Northeast to the South and 350 miles in width – enough to keep us busy for three months.
004  Children are posing for a picture in
front of a modest hut with the roof made
of leaves of the “Arbre de Voyageur“
(Ravenala madagascariensis) – the
“Traveler’s Tree” that grows in abundance
in this region. Its origin is in Madagascar
005  A little girl eats a bowl of rice
in front of her hut entrance – the
main diet of the Madagascans.
Hunger is an alarming problem as
the ‘Global Hunger Index’ shows
Madagascar on place 18 (WHI 22.5)
006  Coloring is fun. Not every child has
this privilege. Many never learn to read
and write because their parents cannot
afford to pay the yearly school fee of US$
25 per child. The literacy rate in Mada-
gascar stays at 70.7% (UNDP 2009)
The son of our booked family guesthouse “Evasion” is fetching us. It is right around the corner of the airport – a neat villa with seven rooms behind high walls with two Madagascan radiated turtles in the garden. Our room is OK, but without a table and chairs and without a fridge. No problem, we have everything in the car. Without breakfast, it costs Aria 70’000 (US$35), breakfast is Aria 7’500 p.p. (US$4). In the afternoon Serge, the migrated owner from the neighboring island of La Réunion, offers us to drive the 3 miles into town to get money at the ATM, to buy a SIM card and to make our first contact with the broker for the release of our car. Such an agent is compulsory and has to be officially recognized. We land at the state-run Auximad Agency, which is simultaneously also the agent of the shipping line Coraline.
007  On weekends, the wide sandy
beach of Tamatave (Toamasina) is a
favorite gathering place for families
008  A lady street vendor walks along
the beach of Tamatave looking for
people buying her homemade food
009  The white sandy beach of
Tamatave stretches along
the whole bay
And here we go again! We are told that we need to have the original of the temporary car admission, issued by the customs head office in the capital Antananarivo – 220 miles away, and not an email copy sent to us to Mauritius. What now? Soon we find out that there is only one person who can help us here in Tamatave: The almighty “Receveur” – pretty much the boss of the regional customs place. Our fate lies in his hands. He can decide in our favor or against it. Patiently we are waiting in front of his office until it is our turn. A few minutes later, the problem is solved. With his stamp and signature he transforms the copy into an original. It was that easy! Obviously he got it that the permit for our car was approved on ministerial level.
010  An artisan is carving an artful
decorative structure from a root
of a “strangler fig tree”
011  A lady artisan works on a basket
with plants of the region. The bottom is
made of leaves of the “Arbre des
Voyageurs“, the “traveler’s tree”; the
walls are made from the Raffia palm
012  Handmade decorative sandals
and baskets at a craft center along
the road North of Tamatave
If we thought that everything would work smoothly now, we are completely wrong. Nothing is moving anymore. Day by day goes by and we make no headway. Somebody is being deliberately obstructive. Probably they want to put so much strain on us until we are ready for bribes. Only a call from our Embassy on September 22nd, gets the ball rolling again. So, on Friday, September 23rd, – after nine days! – we are waiting from 11am for hours at “Alain’s place” at the dusty harbor road for the truck with our container to arrive. It’s a kind of a platform where a lorry can back up to unload its cargo. But nothing happens! And every time we phone to Auximad to inquire about it, we are told: “In half an hour”.
013  The radiated tortoise (Astrochelys
radiata) with its striking drawing prefers
hibiscus flowers to salad. It can weigh
up to 33 pounds. It is classified as
critically endangered” (CITES)
014  A typical dwelling of the coastal
region of Tamatave. The roof is
covered with leaves of the “Arbre
des Voyageurs“, the “traveler’s tree“
015  A simple street eatery in Tamatave’s
port region. There is hot coffee, peanuts,
biscuits and some homemade food
When at 4pm the responsible has switched his phone to “voice mail” and we are not able to reach him anymore, we have had enough. We ask Alain for advice what to do. When he hears the whole delaying story, he gets really upset too: “This is not the way how to treat foreign customers” he repeatedly exclaims. He waves us into his car and drives us immediately to Auximad. As soon as “our” man behind his desk realizes who we are with (until that moment we did not know that he is the President of the National Heavy Traffic Department), he speaks excitedly into his phone. “The container is now on its way” he tells us much to our surprise. At the same time he submits us all the customs and port papers.
016  On the road, direction South. We
pass a thatched village with a hardly
pronounceable name. Like this one,
a big part begins with the letter A
017  A pond, surrounded by lush
tropical vegetation, is a lovely sight on
our way to the highlands of Andasibe
018 A widespread palm in the East: The
fanlike “Traveler’s Tree” (Ravenala
madagascariensis) that got its name
from its capacity to store water,
quenching the travelers thirst
Alain, our “savior” drives us immediately to the port where the gate opens automatically for him. What a miracle one person can achieve if it’s the right one! The truck with our LandCruiser is already approaching us, and shortly after it arrives at “Alain’s place”. Immediately we are surrounded by “helping hands” who all argue about the best way to drive the LandCruiser out of the container to the platform. “No, it does not work like that”, we shout horrified when they maneuver the truck too far away from the platform and want our 4-ton vehicle to balance backwards on two rotten planks to safe ground. ”Let’s try again”, we suggest. This time, the driver manages to back up completely to the platform and in no time our LandCruiser in on Madagascan soil. Everybody is happy and of course everybody expects some money.
019  Emil enjoys breakfast at the lovely
setting of the Hotel ‘Feon‘ny Ala’ in
Andasibe. It borders the National
Park of Mantadia …..
020  ….. visitor at breakfast: A colorful
lizard licking our marmalade. The
craving for sweet is bigger than the fear!
021  The FJKM village church – Church
of Jesus Christ – in Andasibe is a monu-
mental building compared to the modest
village. This congregation is quite
widespread in Madagascar
The sky is already getting pink colored when we roll with our LandCruiser through the roads of this port city three miles to the North to our accommodation. What a different life compared to Mauritius, our last destination. Here the colorful high wheeled bicycle rickshaws and those drawn by hand dominate the scene. Women carry pots, gaskets, bags etc. on their heads – everything has an unmistakable African touch, despite that the Madagascans do not see themselves as Africans, but as islanders. Tamatave with its potholed streets and fading facades of colonial houses is not a feast for the eyes. But the city has a lovely palm-fringed avenue and somehow we have the feeling to be able to breathe more easily here than in many other big cities. The narrowness of the streets, the confining crowd of people is missing.
Our first encounter with hand-tame lemurs at the Vakona Forest Lodge Sanctuary near Andasibe
022  The Black-and-White Ruffed
Lemur (Varecia variegate) is
critically endangered. Characteristic
is its dog like snout
023  Without warning, this Common
Brown Lemur (Eulemur fulvus)
jumps on Liliana’s shoulder.
It is active day and night
024  An adorable offspring of
the Lesser Bamboo Lemur (or gentle
lemur) (Hapalemur griseus) looks
a bit clumsy through the foliage
We hardly reach our guesthouse when I feel miserable. Two hours later, the temperature has risen to 102.4°F. Because apart from shivers I have no pains, we are pretty sure that I caught malaria. It happened the same way in 2010 shortly after our arrival in Papua New Guinea, and there it was diagnosed malaria. A quick test at the Medical Service in town shows a negative result. “It might still be too early to be detected” means Judith, the lady doctor. Therefore, we wait another day. The night is terrible; only the many “Panadol” tablets keep my fever below the 104°F limit. Two days later we make another malaria test; once more it is negative. But then I am racked with stabbing chest pains while breathing. There is no doubt now: It is pneumonia once more – by the way my 8th since 2008 – not really motivating for my up-coming 70th birthday tomorrow. My birthday wish to spot my first lemurs on my special day will therefore not come true. This will have definitively to wait.
The Diademed Sifakas (Propithecus diadema) are big entertainers (though they belong to the endangered species).
They move on their hind legs with arms aloft and can dance like ballet performers:
025  “These two tourists seem
really to like me?” …..
026  ….. “for a small piece of banana, I
am also ready to pose for a picture!” …..
027  ….. “Watch-out: I give
you a little performance!”
With email support and advice of our “family” doctor in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, we start self-treatment with antibiotics. The medical care is anyway not at its best in Madagascar. Expats and those who can afford it fly out in such an emergency to the neighbor island of Réunion. Since Tonga, where I nearly lost my leg due to the lousy treatment of my dog bite, we have little confidence in hospitals and doctors of third world countries. Emil is visiting some pharmacies and asks them what antibiotics they have on sale. The result is transmitted immediately to our doctor who recommends two of them. Within a week we are finally able to hit the road with much anticipated joy.
028  Much cared of by its parents, this
tiny Common Brown Lemur baby
(Eulemur fulvus) looks confidently out of
her mother’s belly fur (there’s no pouch)
029  A young Lesser Bamboo
Lemur (Hapalemur griseus) surveys
curiously from its tree “look-out”
030  The Black-and-White Ruffed
Lemur (Varecia variegate) wants
to show us how smart it is
Tamatave-Andasibe = 132 miles; 5.7 hours
It is a glorious feeling to be on the road again. Through the confusion of bicycle rickshaws and street markets we leave the port city of Tamatave behind us and head South. For a long time we are driving past the modest thatched huts made from the leaves of the “Arbre du Voyageur” – the “Traveler’s Tree” – that are typical of this region; eucalyptus trees are following. Then, towards the highlands, it changes into barren, deforested hills, slash-and-burn areas and simple villages. Shortly before dusk, we reach the village of Andasibe and are lucky to find the last free bungalow at the Hotel Feon’ny Ala, beautifully situated at the edge of the National Park of Mantadia. We are in very good spirit. Today on our first driving day we made 132 miles in 5.7 hours, passed four checkpoints of police and military and all of them were friendly and correct. Our nervousness about corruption eases and our worries are disappearing.
031  How can pictures still be taken?
Two bold Common Brown Lemurs
(Eulemur fulvus) jump without
warning on Emil’s head and shoulder
and make themselves comfortable
032  “Indri-Indri” – Indri the king of the
lemurs – is to be found only in the National
Park of Andasibe-Mantadia. With its length
of up to 3 ft. it is (still) the largest of living
lemurs. Its territorial calls can be heard
as far as 2 miles away .....
033  ….. it can leap up to over 30 ft.
between tree trunks. It is foraging for
leaves – it eats at least 4 pounds a day –
and spends hours of resting afterwards.
It is on list of the endangered species
Andasibe is the place we chose to celebrate my belated milestone birthday. The lovely Vakona Lodge with its own small lake seems to be the right frame – you get 70 only once! But it comes differently! It is not because of the price of US$ 100 a night – we would for once be prepared to accept it – no, I simply do not like the atmosphere. I find the glass palace too sterile; I feel out of place. “Fancy-shmancy” in the jungle is not my taste, not even for a special birthday marking a decade.
At the “zoo” of the Vakona Forest Sanctuary near Andasibe
034  A beautiful Purple Heron
(Ardea purpurea) stands
motionless in its territory …..
035  ….. a crocodile glides
soundlessly through the water
036  ….. a white-faced whistling
duck (Dendrocygna viduata) shares
its territory with the Purple Heron
Despite of that it turns out to be a beautiful and unforgettable day for me. In the morning, I encounter my very first lemurs – five species, hand-tame though, but therefore from very close (the guards feed them with bananas that they are always around!). They live in the small open park belonging to the Vakona Lodge (entry fee Aria 12’500 each = US$ 6). It is just heart-warming how they immediately hop towards us. A big entertainer is especially the light footed “Diadem Sifaka” that moves sideways on its hind legs with arms aloft and performs like a dancer. But also the youngsters of the “Common Brown Lemurs” play their game: Without warning, one is jumping on my shoulder and two others are choosing Emil as a “tree”. One clings at his head and the other makes it comfortable on his shoulder. Through the foliage a clumsy offspring of the “Lesser Bamboo Lemur” is watching the happening. A tiny one months old baby looks confidently out of its mother’s belly fur (there is no pouch) – memories that will stay with us for ever.
037  The catlike “Fossa” (Cryptoprocta
ferox) is a predator endemic to Mada-
gascar. It feeds mainly on lemurs, is a
good climber and is known to follow
lemur families for days and surprise
them at night in their sleep on the trees
038  A Madagascar Tree Boa (Boa
manditra) in the small zoo of the Vakona
Forest Lodge near Andasibe. Its length
can reach up to 7 ft. It lives all over the
island, but mainly in the rainforest. There
are no poisonous snakes in Madagascar
039  Just how we like it: A peaceful
picnic at the lovely Vohitra jungle
river near Andasibe
At noon, we find an idyllic picnic spot along a brown, lazily running jungle river – exactly how we love it. And in the evening – as the culmination of my 70th celebration – an “Indri Sifaka” family appears high up on the treetops at the edge of the Mantadia National Park. “Indri’s” are the tallest still living lemurs in Madagascar, are endangered and are to be found only in this and the adjacent Analmazaotra Reserve. From our bungalow at the Hotel Feon’ny Ala that is bordering the national park, we hear the “melancholic” call of these primates, marking their territories. It echoes up to two miles through the forest. What a wonderful experience!
040  Where life is still peaceful: The
tiny village of Andasibe, lying on an
altitude of 3’000 ft. – situated about
halfway between the port of Tamatave
and the capital Antananarivo
041  “The “Michelin train” (La Micheline)
is the rarest train in the world. The only
one left runs still in Madagascar, carrying
tourists through parts of the highlands
(here at Andasibe station). It was built
in the 30th by Michelin, is equipped
with rubber instead of the common iron
wheels and is known therefore as the
“Michelin train”. Does our antique Land-
Cruiser not look cute too next to it?
042  In our bungalow (6th from left)
at the Hotel Feon’ny Ala in Andasibe
each morning the “melancholy” call
of the “Indri”, the biggest of the still
living lemurs, is waking us up. Rarely
did we feel closer to nature as during the
day all of the tourists were “on tour”
Andasibe-Antananarivo = 83 miles; 4.9 hours
After two nights we hit the road again. The capital Antananarivo, simply called “Tana”, does not have a good reputation, we have not heard many positive things about it. It is said to be an unsafe, dirty and smelly town with way too many cars, people and beggars. No wonder that on this Wednesday afternoon we approach the “lion’s den” with mixed feelings. Roadsigns are inexistant, our street map is inaccurate, and we still do not use GPS. Therefore we have to ask once in a while a passers-by or even the police for the right direction. “Are you giving me now something”, asks one of the police officers trustfully after he showed us the way. After knowing that a traffic policeman gains only around Aria 200’000, approx. US$ 100 a month, we give him some little money – just because he asked so nicely.
Hidden “treasures” in the Mantadia National Park
043  The delicate, dangling
Bulbophyllum occlusum orchid
044  The “Blue Coua” bird
(Coua caerulea)
045  Fruits and seeds in their
shiny orange colors
Evening is approaching. On our drive into the city center the compact colorful sea of houses between the hills gleams in a beautiful soft light – a lovely reception. We booked a room in the Palm Hotel. The deciding factor was the offered secured parking. Unfortunately we have to learn that “secured” parking here means: The car is parked along the street in front of the hotel and should be guarded 24hours by a watchman. Who believes it! On the campsites in Africa there was a joke among travelers that if you need to go to the toilette during the night and stumble on something – it is the sleeping watchman! Probably it would not be any better here. What now? We almost give in to the inevitable when Emil sees by chance on his way searching for some bread an illuminated sign of SICAM – of which he read once on the internet that they have a secured parking area. It is only some minutes away from the Palm Hotel. Why nobody mentioned it? The night costs Aria 5’000 (US$ 1.20); the day Aria 6’000. It is exactly a kind of place we used already when we were it in Hanoi in Vietnam.
046  After the climb through the Mandraka
Range between Andasibe and Antananarivo
we are greeted on about 4’500 ft. by the
typical Madagascan highland with its
scattered dwellings made of red bricks
047  Every corner, every inch is used
for planting rice. Rice is the main
diet of the Madagascans
048  The neatly arranged rice
fields demand hard work
It is already dark when Emil is walking back from parking the car in the SICAM hall to the hotel and suddenly is approached by youngsters. “The first one came on my left side and begged with a hat. I did not pay much attention to it. Then a second one popped up on my right side. That moment, my “alarm bells” started to ring. With outstretched arm I turned around and hit a third guy that was behind my back. He fell on the ground and the other two ran away”. Yes, the four years of African experience still have left its mark! Such small teenage gangs exist unfortunately all over – particularly at tourist destinations. It requires some alertness while walking the streets, mainly at night.
049  The capital Antananarivo – named
shortly Tana – sits at an altitude of 4’183 ft.
On arrival, it greets us with a beautiful
evening glow. The ‘Eglise de Faravohitra’
towers majestically from one of the 12
(some talk even of 18) hills of the town
050  On the highest hill stands the most
important building, the “Rova”, the royal
palace. The interior is still closed to the
public, but the views are superb. The
building burnt down in 1995. The huge
writing “Antananarivo” remembers
somewhat Hollywood
051   Particularly lovely is the sight
over ‘Lac Anosy’ with its tree lined
shore, surrounded by the dense sea
of Tana’s houses
Knowing the car to be safe and sound and having a lovely studio at the Park Hotel, we feel more relaxed. After having expressed our gratefulness to the Ministry of Tourism and our Embassy for assisting us regarding the difficult temporary import of our LandCruiser, we start exploring the city. And we are pleasantly surprised: We like the place spread out between the many hills despite all contrary predictions: The beautiful historic buildings, the towering hill churches, the unbeatable chaotic market hustle and bustle on the flight of steep stairs where besides bananas, sun glasses, very old typewriters and sewing-machines and many more antiques and oddities are on display.
052  Fascinating and unique: Northeasterly
view to the Zoma market. On a flight of
steep steps wedged into the city’s seamless
sea of houses, everything imaginable and
unimaginable is on display …..
053  ….. old and nostalgic typewriters
are sold next to old sewing machines
and fresh bananas …..
054  ….. View in Southwestern
direction. The whole city center isn’t
car-free at all – the whole transit
traffic flows here
We take a taxi to the “Rova”, the Kings Palace (the interior is still closed for the public) topping the highest hill from where we enjoy a superb panorama over the city and Lac Anosy, lined with flowering Jacaranda trees that bloom just now in October. Next day we circle the lake under a deep blue sky and admire the view of the “Rova” up the hill. We both agree: If we turn a blind eye to all the garbage lying around, Antananarivo is an attractive, interesting and well worth seeing city. We stay four days and enjoy it.
055  View towards the Northwestern city
056  The old venerable ‘Eglise
d’Amboninampamarinana’ close to
the ‘Rova” adorns one of the
many hills of the city
057  Who says that Antananarivo
is not an attractive city?
Antananarivo-Antsirabe = 98 miles; 4.3 hours
On the fifth day, after 10am we are on the move again direction South. It is a Sunday. The traffic is bearable and Emil catches straight away the right exit road. The big supermarket chains of “Leader Price” and “Jumbo Score” are just few miles outside of Tana and perfect for stocking up our cheese, sausage, beer and tonic water (for our Gin Tonic) supplies. Afterwards it finally gets quiet and rural. We pass rolling hills and soon the first small scattered settlements with the red two-storey brick houses of the Betsileo tribe come into view, harmonically embedded into the colors of the high plateau. Today the skies are deep blue and the sight is very clear. It is a beautiful drive.
058  Townscape in the warm evening
glow – once more with the church
‘Eglise de Faravohitra’
059  The two pretty buildings in the
lawns are the Constitutional Court
(Haute Cour constitutionnelle),
situated below the Hotel Colbert
060  Wherever we look, churches rise
over the roofs of the city. It’s said that
there are 1’000 church towers
After a 4,3 hours drive, we reach our today’s goal: The city of Antsirabe. With our room at the Hotel Laville (Aria 46’000/US$ 21) for once we make a bad choice. An ice-cold wind blows straight across the big gaps at the entry as well as the veranda door. Despite of our own woolen blankets and thick clothing I shiver throughout the whole night. We are at an altitude of nearly 4’000 ft.. Emil has a different problem: Bedbugs are chasing him. Therefore we are both happy when it begins to dawn. Later we cash money from an ATM and are “rolling” again, this time towards the West to the Baobabs in Morondava on the Western coast.
061  View from ‘Lac Anosy’ to the
“Rova”, the royal palace on top of the
hill. In the front (in the lake) is the
memorial column dedicated to the fallen
Madagascans in the two world wars
062  Until 1975 the “Palais
d’Andafiavaratra” was the seat
of former Prime Ministers.
Then it burned down
063  Egrets populate a blooming
Jacaranda tree
Antsirabe-Miandrivazo = 134 miles; 5.3 hours
We drive through a picture book landscape. The houses, the trees, the earth are a symphony of a warm brown, green and yellow. Here a painter could put up his scaffold everywhere. Suddenly it gets drier, the hills are bleak. The only attraction is now the vastness as far as the eye can see and the great solitude. Most of the rice fields are not yet farmed. Only where a river or a little brook is flowing through the land, they are sticking out in their lush green.
064  At the shore of ‘Lac Anosy’,
children entertain themselves
with jump roping
065  Sanitation at ‘Lac Anosy‘: These
are the prices for nature's call or
a shower (a shower costs 9 US¢)
066  October: The Jacaranda trees
at ‘Lac Anosy’ are in full bloom
The black ribbon of the mostly good tarmac road continues meandering in never ending bends through the mountains of the Central Highlands. Now and then we pass a peaceful village with thatched houses, mostly beginning with the letter “A”. Usually, the names are very long and complicated to pronounce, like e.g. “Ampasimadinika”. Busy market life in big or small scale is taking place everywhere. Women are washing wherever there is a puddle. Others are sitting on the sidewalk selling their vegetables. At one occasion I think the girls are pounding millet – no, they are beating soil to powder. Everywhere, our smile is returned heartedly, everywhere people wave at us. Despite of their great poverty, the Madagascan people are cheerful and show a joy for life. They are never intrusive. If we picnic close to the street, they just keep walking, making traveling on this island very relaxed, at least in the own vehicle. However, the “taxi-brousse” (bush taxis) are hopelessly overcrowded, leaving the Westerner the only solution to hire a chauffeur-driven car, because self-drive vehicles are more than rare to find.
067  Will they all fit into the “taxi brousse”
– the bush taxi? Probably they will! We
are really happy to have our own
mean of transport!
068  Neatly dressed church goers are
on their way home from the Sunday
mass. Madagascar’s population counts
20 millions, whereof 45% are Christians;
50% have their traditional religion
069  The double-storey red highland
houses between Antananarivo and the
90 miles more Southerly town of
Antsirabe fit wonderfully into the landscape
After a potholed stretch we hear a familiar sound: It hisses and rumbles. We have a flat tire – the first one since we mounted in July 2010 a new set of the Chinese brand “Boto” in Jakarta in Indonesia. It is the 167th of our tour around the world. At least, we are in good company because every few miles truck or overcrowded bush taxi drivers lie under their vehicles to fix something. B.t.w.: In cities most mechanics come directly to the people’s houses for repairs. They mostly have neither a workshop nor space, only a few tools. “Alone for the tools you carry with you, they would kill you here” a Swiss mechanic in Colombia warned us once, many, many years back. Madagascar however isn’t that bad – at least during daytime. Each time we change a tire, a funny episode from India crosses our mind: It happened just outside a little village. Someone spotted us and half of the village showed up to watch. Finally cars and busses stopped and in the shortest of time the whole traffic came to a stand still because there was something to see: A white guy changing a tire! But not here – some cars stop and ask whether we need any help.
070  Still waiting for the rainy season to
plant the rice. Meanwhile zebu herds search
for some greens on the fallow fields.
Normally the rain starts mid-November
071  What are these people pounding?
After a closer look we see that it is not millet,
but stones that they are refining to get sand
072  The villages that dot the highlands
have all their distinctive architecture
according to its ethnic groups, like here
in the central highlands the Merina
A few miles later, we reach Miandrivazo and are glad to be able to escape the crowds at a place called “chez la Reine Rasalimo” situated on a quiet hill at the end of the village. We are the only people at the outdoor restaurant, sipping a cold beer and watching the sun setting with a beautiful glow. Unfortunately the night turns out to be stiflingly hot because the fan in our bungalow is not working properly. And we are now at the hottest place in Madagascar – says the statistic! With a lot of effort we are able to download some emails with our 3G-USB-drive, not too bad if we consider where we are.
073  A herdsman leaves with his zebu herd
the watering place, a woman does laundry.
In the villages there is no running water. It
has to be transported with jerry cans from
a public water supply that mostly works
only at certain times
074  It is a pleasure to drive on the very
good tarmac road through the hilly and
almost traffic free highlands towards
the West Coast at Morondava
075  Short of Miandrivazo we have a flat
tire – the 168th on our journey around
the world and the first one since we
bought 15 months ago new tires and
tubes in Jakarta in Indonesia
More websites from Madagascar:
  • Madagascar part 2: Miandrivazo-Morondava (Baobabs)-Antsirabe-Fianarantsoa-Ambalavao (Lemurs)
  • Madagascar part 3: Ambalavao-Isalo N.P.-Tuléar-Ranomafana (Lemurs)-R.N.7-Antananarivo
  • Madagascar part 4: Antananarivo-Ankadibe (Lemurs)-Andasibe-Manambato-Foulpointe-Tamatave