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Madagascar for 20 Days

Madagascar has lovely, friendly people that work really hard trying to improve their standard of living, educate their kids and improve their health. They were a French colony until 1949. They seemed to be plagued by corrupt politicians and the world aid organisations and corporations seem to have given up.

Our driver Rado giving out a soccer ball
Our driver Rado giving out a soccer ball

We knew there wasn’t a lot that we could do to help so we decided to buy as many soccer balls as we could each day and threw them out of the car to kids as we drove along. We saw the most amazing smiles when they realised it was a gift for them. We also wen to a very poor fishing village and took along pens, pencils and books for the village children as most don’t go to school. It was beautiful to see how much this meant to them.

Giving out pencils & books to village children

The farmers are so poor they do not use artificial fertilizers or chemicals, so all their food is organic with heaps of rice, Zebu cattle, fresh vegs and fruit. They seem to all be well fed, there is little or no refrigeration so they have to go to the local markets every day, walking kms there and back. Some use carts with only a piece of wood as a brake and the country is very steep.

Family transport – Madagascan style

We went to the mainly high rainfall eastern half of the island, where the rainforest grows, the western side of the island is very dry similar to inland Australia. It is even more difficult to grow rice and vegs.

Waterfall in Ranomafana National Park
Waterfall in Ranomafana National Park

There is a lot of really bad erosion caused by deforestation for agriculture and charcoal, which is used for cooking, and they have planted forests of Eucalyptus trees. The Euco’s are cut off near ground level and after 2 years they come back to cut the regrowth or the trees are left to grow for building material.

Madagascans distilling geranium oil

With 25 million people and heaps of kids it has a big job. Birth control, education, better crop rotations and some simple infrastructure could do a lot to improve things.

Madagascar’s Great Tourism Industry

Their shining light is their tourism industry, with great National Parks, accommodation and food and well-trained guides and staff. It is only held back by badly maintained roads that destroy all vehicles and makes for very slow traveling. They have no 5 star, with most accommodation being 2 to 4 star at a reasonable price. Their drivers and guides are well trained with many speaking reasonable English.

Waterfall in Ranomafana National Park

Their forests are similar to Australia’s rainforests in structure but with very different species and living in them of course are the amazing Lemurs. We saw lots of different species some the size of a small possum up to the size of a large domestic cat. They are fairly easily seen with the help of a good guide in their secondary forests (regrowth), however quite difficult to get a good sighting in their primary forest (old growth) because the canopy is 30m above the ground. These primary forests show the grandeur of their trees, very impressive.

Black & White Ruffed Lemur
Black & White Ruffed Lemur

Summary of Madagascar

Madagascar was our main destination and we were originally going to stay a month but decided to spend 10 days in SA. We had done our research and sort of knew what to expect in Mad. We felt safe, eating a great variety of really good healthy food. Our guide said we were staying in the best accommodation in the area most nights, which were all very comfortable. Mad is a good value destination, with beautiful National Parks and friendly people.

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