Madagascar Paradise Flycatcher
Favorite thing: Let's talk about the animals...let me introduce the Madagascar Paradise Flycatcher , in latin the name is Terpsiphone mutata. A remarkable little bird. We saw this male one at La Réserve Spéciale d' Ankarana . But they can be admired at other national parcs too.
The nice thing here was that we saw this one after a climb of 2 houres in a canyon. At one side of the canyon a river came from under the rocks and on the other side the river disappeared again. The réserve itself is hard to reach and it takes some effort and a good guide to reach this paradise like spot. And there was the little bird. Not impressed , either afraid of humans.
Maybe the most notable little bird on our way. I said maybe. In the picture one can see the male. The male is easely recognized by the two lang tail feathers and another striking feature are the ultramarine rings around each eye. Those long tail feathers are often 3 times as long as the rest of the tail. They build their nests in octobr , november. Interesting to know might be that both sexes help building the nest , they incubate the eggs together AND they both cheat on each other....
Madagascar ground boa
Madagascar has some snake species. The largest ones are the Madagascar ground boas. This is the smallest species of the boa-family on Madagascar. It's scientific name is Acrantophis madagascariensis. On Madagascar you can spot these animals in the east and the north in dry forested area's often near water.
And that is where we found her. After a morning of climbing we went swimming in a grotto not too far from the campsite at réserve spéciale de l'Ankarana'. She , according to Jacques our guide , she lived there in the area and often took a bath in the grotto. He said she was a friendly one...I took a closer look and I believed him. (the german woman we had with us was for sure more venomous then this constrictor-type of snake). She was there to escape from the heat and enjoy herself in the water ;-) just like us.
This species eat birds, rats, chickens, lizards, and many other mammals in the wild. They got a special organ to find their prey even in the dark , it works with heat sensors. They can reach a lenght of 1,8 m and we got every reason to believe that they are endangered , altough specific numbers are not available.
Madagascar fish eagle
One of the rarest birds of prey on earth. This eagle is endemic to Madagascar. Sources differ in size of the population , some say 40 breeding pairs , other mention 70. Whatever it is...it is a small population for such a magnificient bird. They need space and silence for succesful breeding. And that space is becoming more scarce. Action has been taken.
They got two pairs in the zoo in the capital city , Antananarivo. The zoo of Tsimbazaza. Their scientific name is 'haliaeetus vociferoides ' You can find some extra information here!
Let me introduce you to one of the lemur species of Madagascar's rich fauna. This is the crowned lemur - it is easy to see where the species got it's name. Right?
Their scietntific latin name is 'eulemur coronatus'. This is the smallest species of the genus Eulemur they can weight about 1,5 to 1,8 kilograms. We both saw this species at 'National parc de montagne d'Ambre' as well as in 'Ankarana special reserve'.
At Ankarana they are even semi-tame and hang around the camp place waiting for a mango pith to be ignorantly thrown away.
They are classified as vulnerable and appear on the CITES I list. That is not a list of honor it means that they are seriously endangered. The dangers for these animals are los of habitat by logging , forest fires , development. They appear in 4 restricted areas that should be protected. (responsible tourism can bring in some needed cash to maintain the parcs)
For this species the Madagascar Fauna Group has set up a captive breeding program.
These animals can easely be seen since they are day active. If you wander through the forest you'll meet small family groups - 4 to 6 is an average group , but up to 15 individuals is possible. They feed on leaves , fruits and branches and sometimes on rare occasions on bird eggs and vertebrates.Mating occurs in May and June and 125 days later one of two youngsters are born. Two years later the cyclus can start again.
I like their long tails ,up to 49cm for an animal with a body lenght of 34 - 36 cm its huge.Related to:
- National/State Park
Why hiring ANGAP guides?
Favorite thing: Ever noticed that I insisted on you hiring ANGAP guides while visiting national parks? Not only because local ANGAP guides are the ones who know about "their" territory. Also, ANGAP (association nationale pour la gestion ds aires partagees) aims at protecting nature.
For decades, nature parks, and other areas btw, have been under threaten. Peasants have been doing harm to Mother nature. For instance, local slash and burn technique, Tavy, was used not only in hills and more and more eroded soils, locals started to use it in parks and nature reserves as well. The cause: locals haven't had any education, neither awareness on preservation. They had to make do with they've known so, they haven't benefited from any specific program (like most of Malagasy peasants for decades, btw).
Then ANGAP was founded in 1990, a NGO that coordinates and manages the program for preserving Malagasy biodiversity. Soon this initial mission had to be extended in local development actions. It realized that preservation couldn't go along with poverished locals whose actions would go against ANGAP projects. Now, 50% entry fee amounts are allowed in micro-projects of neighbouring villages. Along with locals, other associations and financial aids, it helps in schools raising, setting of agriculture areas, rivers. ANGAP plays a role in orientating peasants too, according demands, markets. For instance, it would implement the cultivation program of orange, litchis with 70 households of one of Andasibe villages. Lots of similar projects in neigbouring areas of parks now.
Please, hire ANGAP guides. It encourages them to keep up their good work.
Fondest memory: It is reported that only 15% of Malagasy territory are covered by forests. Sad. "Blue island" then is now "Red island". The green, so deep that it tended to the blue shade became the red shade of the nude soil of the island. The guides contribute in showing the endemic species and educating us on the fragile balance of Madagascar's nature.Related to:
- National/State Park
- Jungle and Rain Forest
You may need this...
Favorite thing: Cybercafes in Tana area: some addresses I could gather here and there. Who knows, they may be useful one day. Never tried them though... Also check at your hotel in case internet is available. Internet at hotels is reputed far better & safer & more expensive than cybercafés though.
- Cybercafé de l'Ouest
III G 55 Ouest Ambohijanahary Tél. 02022.545.07
Lot IVG 1 bis Behoririka
- City.net Mahamasina
- Free Net
Lot IVE 32bis Behoririka
Tél.03312.782.05 - 03312.029.02
- Multi Electronics Espace Web
70m from Ampasapito U-turn on the road to Institut Pasteur
Tél. 020 22.528.13
Mon- Sat + Sun. morning
- Planète Cybercafe
0 20 22.555.51 between DECORAMA shop and Behoririka bridge.
Terminus taxi B Andoharanofotsy
0 20 22.573.12
- Zéro un
202 Rte Circulaire Ambaninida
0 20 22.317.81 - 03312.087.67
Fondest memory: I am starting gathering adresses in other areas too and will update...Related to:
- Study Abroad
- Business Travel
Back in old times...
Favorite thing: It is reported to be the type of boat that Malagasy ancestors from SE Asia (Malayo-Polynesia area, incl. Malaysia, Indonesia...) used to navigate in Indian Ocean (before the Arabs did it), to reach Arabic coast, African coast and Madagascar. That was centuries ago (The first wave of SE Asian migrants/ navigators were said to settle there in 5th century).
This picture was taken in our 3rd millenium in Mahajanga coast. In fact, in Madagascar, the Vezo people, a fishermen tribe on West coast, still use it in their day-to-day activities.
This illustrates the influences of Asian ancestors had on African ancestors and vice-versa. This typical Asian boat is now used by a mostly African descending tribe in Madagascar whilst the Merina and Betsileo tribes also include African references in their everyday life.
Fondest memory: When I see the result of those exchanges between Malagasy ascendants, I am proud to see that the Malagasy people is unique in a sense. Tribes are different but they had exchanged knowledge for centuries so that a Malagasy person can have some diverse cultural references. AND THAT being despite the manipulations that some crazy politicians (led by a dictator who was ousted off power in 2001) have used to divide the country. Late developments proved they haven't succeeded. More than ever, Malagasy people are (remain) united, (and become) full of hope...Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Sailing and Boating
FEEDING THE LEMURS
When my guide told me at we were going to a place called ‘Lemur Island’ - I was not excited. We had spent a whole day trying to view different species of Lemurs from several miles off at the top of trees . It wasn’t until we arrived that I realised I would not only see the Lemurs close up – I would get to feed them! Yes, we had bananas and these little guys went nuts. They climbed on posts, trees and anything they could – especially me! This was a chance to not only see these little guys, but also to really interact with them. WOW!Related to:
- Jungle and Rain Forest
Favorite thing: Generally speaking, the country is characterised by a hot subtropical climate with distinct wet and dry seasons, the length of which is determined by latitude and altitude. The coastal region has a typically tropical climate while the interior parts of the island are more temperate, particularly with increasing elevation.
Trade winds prevail from the east and the monsoons come from the northwest. This results in most precipitation falling on the east coast while many regions southwest of the highlands remain dry for much of the year.
Officially, the rainy season lasts from November to March, and the dry season from April to October. Annual rainfall ranges from about 300 mm in the southwest to over 3600 mm on the eastern escarpments. From January to March, the east coast, the far north as well as the far south are occasionally subject to cyclones. Travelling to these areas during the cyclone season can be dangerous and is inadvisable.
The beautiful people
Favorite thing: As in most places I visit, it is the peolpe that makes the biggest impression on me. Beautiful, friendly and proud, the Malagasy peolpe are some of the nicests around.
Fondest memory: Desperate to try out the few Malagasy phrases I had learned, I attempted to hold a conversation with some road workers in Ranomafana. We exchanged pleasantries for a few moments with my pronounciation causing much hilarity, and I felt that despite our cultural and linguistic differences, a bond had developed between us.
We also tought our Malagasy guide Cockney Rhyming Slang, and by the time we went home he was telling us that he 'went down the Frog and Toad to the Rub a Dub Dub for a Ruby Murray' .Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
- Jungle and Rain Forest
Favorite thing: www.newmadagascar.com
This is the official website of Madagaskar with lots of informations and the vis application form.
Great overview about just everything in Madagascar
Great website with lots of informations about Madagaskar in GermanRelated to:
Beware of literal translations!
Fondest memory: One of the most charming aspects of touring Madagascar is idly perusing the comprehensive project information signs that is posted for everything from road construction to building renovation.
Regardless of the project at hand, we were confused that the final board always stated "delai d'execution" - what we interpreted as the "delay in the project"!
This lead us to ponder on what seemed to be:
a. the consistently awful project management
b. the honest and transparent manner in which the Bureau De Controle highlighted their colleagues' incompetence!
I was later helpfully informed by a fellow VTer that "delai" used in this context means "duration" - which only shows that the linguistically challenged among us should beware of applying literal translations!
Partying in Madagascar
Favorite thing: Well, it's a bit weird to put it after a "Poverty' tip but hey, it's a Malagasy feature too...
Malagasy people are amongst real partyers. I don't even talk about official, planned parties.
Rather talk about the ability of getting it to party while few people are together. It happens so often that when you have a family meeting, one decides to play either live music either a Cd or even.. a cassette (!). Some begin dancing then one suggests to throw a party... After pushing up furniture in order to improvise a dancefloor, partying till dawn.
It's easy to heat up the ambience with just some guitar and harmonica as well. Audience claps hands and sing acapella, accompanying instruments. Traditional songs, ballads are then reviewed... Families use to have some amateur music players so it's always useful in those cases. It's even more interesting when one of the youngsters is a DJ and has his mix-board home..
Off course, alcohol, cooked meat, meatballs, kebabs and sambos help... But one dish is really welcomed when partying till dawn: vary amin'anana. This is a dish made of soft rice cooked with diverse leaves and diced beef meat with onions and ginger. Eat it with kebabs or sausages. With this, the night is yours!! You need it especially in winter, it keeps warm.
This feature is imported in Europe as well. Malagasy communities are used to that simple gatherings end up with parties. It takes one hour to buy food and drinks, find the room, push away furniture... if you have a chance to be invited to a Malagasy party, go!! It's such an ambiance...
Fondest memory: Unplanned parties at family meetings...Related to:
- Arts and Culture
- School Holidays
Ravinala tree, a closer look
Favorite thing: on a young ravinala... Enlarge to see details of this plant.
By the way, many countries in the world have become to have this tree but it originates from Madagascar. Anyway, Air Madagascar (Airmad) has a ravinala motif as its emblem...
Fondest memory: While travelling, the encountering of those ravinala plants delighted me.
In fact, it meant that we left the Highlands, from where we used to start our trips, and above all, were approaching coastal areas.
Soon we realized that the smell changed bit by bit... till you smell iodic air... the sea.Related to:
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Road Trip
Favorite thing: Rich fauna, flora, nature to marvel at, soil WEALTH ... and population POVERTY.
Madagascar is amongst world's poorest countries. For decades, population has to struggle for life. 80% of population is rural, many being illiterate. In remote areas, no electricity neither current water.
For years, government members just grabbed all they could at expenses of population. The latter uses to tackle tough life, the one international institutions use to impose in order to meet up criteria for financial backing.
The South, for instance, has suffered from starvation for years. Years ago, volunteers and humanitarian groups went there to see and save some lives. However, Madagascar's then government made everything possible to hide Southern starvation, declaring that there was not any starvation in the Southern region.
Same thing as for Malagasy students in Europe. In Belgium, Malagasy students have been facing some strange situation in paying higher scholarship fees. Belgium has agreements with other countries as far as students are concerned. Thus, African students pay, at most, same fees as Belgians, NOT Malagasy students.
In fact, Malagasy students are in same category as US, Japanese students since, according to our then president, Malagasy students could afford studying. Thus, there is no point in putting Madagascar in same category as other African countries.
In fact, even some volunteers to save some lives in Southern Madagascar were hindered in their job. Even some countries that accepted that Malagasy students pay less were prevented from doing so.
Why that, would you say? In my humble opinion, because of some ego of then Malagasy officials who didn't want the world to see that the country was so poor, that people were starving. Too late for them, MSF and journalists were there.
These are examples of what happened there, of what people have endured for decades (esp. since 1975 when D. ratsiraka became president)...
Fondest memory: - Corruption is one of features of this country, some of my warning tips inform you on what to be done. I hope they will work for you. New government now implements its anti-corruption cell. It seems to be a serious task that awaits the cell staff but the president is determined in his actions. So, dear tourists, pay attention from now since situation is changing.
- Tana epitomizes fastuous and miserable Madagascar. Streets urchins, prostitutes of all ages in some areas on one hand, 4WD cars and business people on other hand. Shanty towns adjoin with posh villas (sometimes extravagant and of bad taste). Visiting other cities just made me aware of that since in Toamasina, for instance, there are really few beggars. While urban Tana abunds in street urchins... Rural people are poor as well and make the bulk of Malagasy population... but at least, they have houses there, or huts and some plots where to grow some crops and breed poultry and livestock.
Hopefully, new government, with its president Marc RAVALOMANANA elected in 2001, is working on. Pressure is put on them since people are really hoping for better life in the future. I hope the new government would do its best to support the population in its projects, ambition.. because many of Malagasy people are really skilled but never had the opportunity to express themselves, to achieve goals and live with talent.
First picture, rural picturesque scenery during rice harvesting season (seen from our orchard).
The second is a picture of a stall in Mahavelona area (East of Madagascar).Related to:
- Work Abroad
- Business Travel
- Historical Travel
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