I feel a bit like the nasty aunt that spoils the fun writing this. But somebody has to do the job. There are tour operators , guides etc and independent travelers who feed wild animals in order to get them closer etc. And yes , I must admit , it is a fun idea and even I would buy 10 kilo of banana's and take them into the national parcs. BUT that has serious consequences and I like to tell you about them.
-a lot of lemurs don't have banana's on their natural diet. They are fond of it but they don't digest it too well. (it is like humans and chocolate - chocolate is fine - 2 bars a day can be handled - but from half a kilo a day our health is in serious danger - Believe me!)
-lemur groups who are on tour operators way on a regular bases and get feeded are much larger then natural groups , social disturbed behavior is one of the consequences.
(I know it is the easy way to find the animals , you stop for 30 minutes , put the tourists in the middle , make some noice , take the pictures and off you go again...and you'll earn some great tips)
-some species of lemur become infertile by feeding them fruit or other products that are not their natural diet.
All the guides at Mantadia will tell you not to touch ,neither feed the animals. And responisble guides like Jacques from 'king de la piste' take home the peels of the banana's too after eating them ourselves. THAT is responsible behaviour.
There is however no danger for you....
There is a whole world of creatures and bacteria waiting for you....under the water level. They are just waiting for you to get in and it is the only thing why they are born. **sigh**
I know you can get some serious deceases by swimming in Stagnant water. Bacteria got all the time in the world to develope here , zebus are willing(?) victims to transport all kinds of nasty animals , worms etc.
But it was so hot , and we were so dirty , and we walked for so long...so I did swim in sort of stagnant water. up till now I feel fine , 5 weeks after. My surroundings still say I look good and is responding normal to me so I guess I didn't take too much risk. lol
OK serious now. There are some serious risks involved. There are deseases you don't want to get. So get advice from locals or if you got one , your guide. He'll know if it is safe or not. Don't swim in water that looks dirty , is visited by animals as drinking pool. In general , use your good sence.
If you are at sea , don't go swimming anywhere either. Always get advice if there is riks for sharks. Few accidents happen , but they do happen with the great white shark. Don't let it be you.
If the name of the cave is 'cave des crocodiles' , figure out yourself if it is safe to swim there , test it and let me know. ok.
A good reason to go to Madagascar is to see wild animals. You sometimes have to do some effort to find them. However , lucky you!! There is one species of animal that will do an effort to find you. An all time favorite of many who traveled the tropical rainforest : Leeches
After the rain , they are wainting for you to pass by and find a cozy spot on your skin where they can suck themselves full of blood. Your donation is highly appreciated since that is what they need for breeding. Here you can find some tips if you want some as pets.
Seriously - HERE you can find a way to remove them. Sorry I don't have a picture of one , since Frederik was always so fast removing them , I didn't had a chance. For some reason they liked him better then me. I had quit ordinary clothes on while he had expensive adventure gear....whatever.
Since we last visited Madagascar in November 2008, the tourist visa requirement has been waived. This is good news, as it was a fairly pricey addition to the holiday budget, and on the face of it, this would seem to simplify the immigration process.
Sadly, not so! The unhelpful and apparently unconcerned air hostesses on the Air Mad flight that we arrived on told us that they didn't have any immigration forms, and so an entire planeload of passengers from a full flight descended on the arrivals hall to hunt down the few - woefully insufficient - remaining arrivals forms. Passengers were then given conflicting advice from immigration officials about whether families with children needed to complete one form per person regardless of age (which is correct) or whether only the adults needed to fill in forms. Only once we reached the front of the queue at immigration were we then informed that there was another form that needed to be completed, which just further added to the chaos. As a result, passengers were struggling to complete additional forms whilst their passports were being passed from one official to another - I am always particularly worried when I and my passport become separated. All in all it was an unsettling experience, particularly for people not used to travelling in the developing world, and a less than ideal welcome to a country after a long international flight.
How do you survive such an unseemly scrum? Well, first prize would be to try and ensure that your tour operator provides you with the necessary forms in advance so that you are able to complete these before you arrive - given that the forms are in French, this would also allow non-Francophone visitors to seek assistance from the air hostesses or immigration officials if required. You would also think that Air Mad would be professional enough to make sure that it carries sufficient arrivals forms so that each passenger is issued with one during the inbound flight: the main tourist office in Tana was emphatic that they are meant to do so, and was shocked to hear that this is not the case. However, this would presume on a certain minimum standard of planning and customer service that has not been apparent in any of our dealings with Air Mad on either of our visits.
Otherwise, try to hold onto your temper and your sense on humour and, if all else fails, resort to visualisation techniques, and try to focus on the ice-cold Three Horses Beer that is awaiting you on your arrival at your hotel - however frustrated you feel at the time, it will be worth it!
Most books will advise you not to eat salads. Why? Because a salad is washed with water and the bacteria in that water will cause travelers diarrhea. About 50 procent of all travelers in Madagascar are estimated to get travelers diarrhea during one stage of their journey in Madagascar. This inconvenient thing happens because of the change of food and/or bacteria whe are not used to get exposed at. Said that...it is more or less logical to be carefully.
I can't imagine myself not eating fresh veggies , since I love salads. And the starters on Madagascar , especially the salads did taste like I never had them before. It is hard to find out what you will be getting - Salade du chef - what's in the name. But it ware crispy baked zebu meat and salty shrimps with a fantastic dressing , good tasting tomatos and...
The point is , I did eat salads and fruit during our complete journey. And we did had some trouble at some points. BUT it was worth it. Take proper medication and use it when needed. We didn't had pain and it wasn't that inconvenient. And looking back on it , I didn't want to miss out on all that great food either.
Road conditions vary considerably, from smooth, tarmac’ed highways, to rutted tracks more akin to dried-up river beds. These turn into a muddy quagmire when wet, and can become impassable in places. We are very lucky when leaving Ranomafana – usually they have to allocate several hours extra travelling time to allow for being towed out of sludge holes by a lorry. When we are there, it has been dry for several days and the conditions are favourable.
The sandy track is a hazard to any vehicles other than ox carts, and we get stuck in the dunes, having to get out and push. On one side of the path is the sea, the other the famous ‘spiny forest’. Small ponds give off an unpleasant aroma of stagnant water. Goats present another risk, they have no road-sense whatsoever and wander aimlessly as they please, often straight out in front of the bus.
Allow plenty of time for this journey.
Walking down the street in Tana we were approached by an old and scruffy beggar holding out his hat for David to drop a few coins in. Having come across this scam before, we were ready for him when he covered David's bum bag with the hat and tried to undo the zipper with the other hand. Needless to say, he didn't get anything - other than a hard shove and some harsh words in French.
Child prostitution is a major problem in Madagascar and we found some disturbing evidence of this.
Post cards for sale in certain hotels showing girls aged 9-10 with the words 'My name is...., I am 9 1/2 years old and I live in Tana' Picture cards of young boys in swimming trunks, again with similar wording.
Bars with large pictures of children on the walls, mainly pre-teen girls with very little clothing.
Hotel restaurants full of fat French ex-pat males slobbering over locals girls who looked no older than 12!
Walking along the beach at Ifaty we are approached by girls as young as 6, leaning back seductively whilst spreading their legs, asking 'you want picture?'
Having been out in a pirogue, coming back to land is an unpleasant experience. With the tide being out, we have to abandon the boat and wade back to shore and as the bottom is covered with sharp shells, we are recommended to keep our sandals on. We sink to the ankles in horrible sludge and my feet become stuck. One of my sandals gets left behind when withdrawing my foot and I spend ages digging with my bare hands in the awful muck to retrieve it - Amjad breaks his flip flops and has to discard them and risk walking barefoot. He cuts his soles badly.
This is really more in the way of a caution than a warning, but the multiple names in use for a single place can make planning your Madagascar trip a real headache!
As far as I can work out, there has been a push to 'indigenise' place names so that they more accurately reflect Malagasy culture rather than the colonial influence. This is nothing unusual in a post-colonial environment: such renaming has been extensively undertaken in places like India, and is currently underway throughout South Africa.
What ever the ideological reasons for the change, it can be really confusing for the tourist, especially people who are only starting their planning and are trying to get their heads around a completely unfamiliar country.
Some changes are fairly minor - Antananarivo for Tananarive for instance (although everyone calls it Tana anyway). Toliara for Tulear is also reasonably easy to follow. The switch from Toamasina for Tamatave is getting harder to follow, and you deserve to be forgiven for not realising that Fort Dauphin is now Taolagnaro ....
I would love to assure you that it gets easier when you're on the ground, but in fact that isn't the case. There seems to be no consistency in road signage, and departure boards in airports and signs at bus stations seem to blithely mix old and new names, much to the confusion of the hapless tourist ...
Oh, and since I'm on a roll, it would be so much less confusing if there weren't so many places starting with "A"...
A chapter in one of my pages about taking pictures in Mada.
+++ Zébus, Lemurs, Ravinala
Yes, Zébus, Lemurs, Ravinala and not that much pictures of humans neither homes. In my previous hp, I said that pictures of humans are not that usual here since Malagasy are not used to that. Jennifer (craic) asked me why and here was the copy-paste of my answer:
Original Message from Norali
Received 2003-06-22 03:55:10.0
> How are you? You are entering winter, no? A response to your question on my pages. You want to know why Malagasy people are not used to display personal pictures?
> A traditional behaviour of reserve (not coldness but what is said to be "pudeur" in French. My Harraps dico says "modesty"). Though, oddly enough, when dropping a visit to Malagasy friends for the first time, they (we) use to show photo albums. If your hostess doesn't show, visitor would ask anyway. Way paradoxical!
In some regions of Mada, taking picture of humans is seeing as "stealing the person's soul" (?). Personnally, I don't fit to that though I just don't take picture of Malagasy people except friends. When visiting areas (esp. those that are of different customs ), I just limit myself in taking pictures of landscape, houses (by far) and animals and plants...
I hope this makes it clear... Culture! Always amazing! Thanks for dropping by!
N-L " +++
[Upd. May 2004: More explanation: if many Malagasy locals in urban areas & touristic places would agree, for FREE, to be taken in picture, it is not always the case in remote areas. The tip was written regarding this late part.]
While packing your luggage, pay attention to have a key for your hand luggage or other system that noone can open.
This happened to me in 1995. While entering the plane, I was asked to send my hand luggage to the hold. Arriving in Tana, I was not able to pick my luggage the day I arrived (Friday).
When I picked it on Monday, half of my hand luggage disappears. Well, the bag was there but half empty... My camera, my calculator, a 200 ml bottle of perfume, a silk scarf (a gift from my best friend), a walkman (a gift as well)... they left there belts, books, CDs.
Solution: do not accept to send your hand luggage in the hold unless you are sure that none can open it. If crew personnel insists, just tell the story I told you... to show that you know the danger. It seems that other persons experienced that as well.
The initial solution is, however, to have a normal size hand luggage (read instructions from air companies). Then, they shouldn't ask you to send anything in the hold. My hand luggage was too big for a hand luggage.
You will see, policemen in Madagascar use to check cars (they would "verify" if the driver has all its papers, meets all administrative, technical requirements to drive properly...).
Vazaha (white men) and wealthy locals seem to be interesting cases for them :-). They would always nit-pick in order to justify a fine (even for a missing side mirror and for that you explain you already ordered a replacement and that replacement is coming very soon) . The "strangest" thing is that they would ask you to pay cash otherwise they would keep your driving license.
Solution that works well: Rather than discuss about the fine (well, rather mean "price"), ask for a written cash receipt (before paying, please, otherwise it won't work *LOL*) and their requirement would just vanish in thin air...
They know that if a fine is justified (or say, applicable), you could pay cash or at a police office. By asking for the receipt, you just put a pressure on them... Show that you know the rules... The threaten for them is that you would be able to report & show the receipt to their superiors as well (even if you don't intend to do so :-) ... Right?
I know it worked since my Dad did that & it went smoothing. :)
Though locals drink water from tap (I do.. I am still a local over there...lol), just don't do it. Otherwise, you won't enjoy your travel in Madagascar as you will have to be stuck in the toilets most of times :-)) Also, in urban areas, to clean up running water, they use chloride & it smells & tastes... chloride.
Be sure that if you are having a soda drink - mineral water (Olympiko, Eau Vive), the bottle cap is sealed. Avoid "natural juices" in restaurants and snacks since most of time, they water down beverages, with water from tap. One thing is possible, buy juice in tetrapak packaging. Tiko brand is Malagasy & has a fine passion fruit juice although their orange juice tastes too chemical, in my books.
You could try Ranovola, a typical beverage in Tana area (and surroundings). Ranovola is an amber-coloured hot beverage that you will drink while having lunch. It is obtained by boiling water in the kettle that had cooked rice. The taste is special. Imagine a grilled-rice beverage. Of course, Ranovola is safe (boiled and over-boiled) for you.
Résidence Lapasoa Isoraka BP 3650 Antananarivo Tél :22 611 40. 180.000 FMG Beautiful colonial...more
Le Royal Pallisandre is a very good quality hotel in the heart of the city. The rooms and public...more
Lot 66 B Antanetibe Ivato, Antananarivo, 105, Madagascar
Good for: Solo