Travel Report Madagascar - Weltenbummler Shumba - Weltreise mit dem Allrad Reisemobil

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             Travel Report Madagascar

                             16.09. - 26.10.2016

   our Route

Diesel Price:

Ariary 1€ = 3.450    09/16
0,87 €/Ltr



3.908 km, thereof 66% dirt road

at the airport


Part III >  Giriyondo - Punta d'Ouro      21.12.2016 - 07.01.2017            951 km


The Highlands

Early in the morning our friend Jeanet brings us to the airport. Immediately upon check-in, we learn that we have 3(!) Kg excess baggage and we would have to pay a lot of money for it. So we're going to repack. The airport in Johannesburg is huge from check-in to the departure terminal we had the feeling that we were walking kilometers. Short visit to the duty-free to buy some gifts and then we reach the last bus to the plane. After 3.5 hours flight we land on time and are picked up as promised. The first thing that strikes us here is the traffic on the right side, which is quite unusual for us.
Adafi, our driver, takes us through the narrow cobbled streets of Antananarivo to our hotel, Villa Sibylle. This is where we will stay for three nights to organize, acclimatize, and gather information and talk. We are kindly received by Klaus, the German owner, and Nicole, his Madagascan wife. Immediately, he begins to explain why Madagascar is so different from other African countries, and he also gives us some of the "unwritten rules" that exist on the island. But slowly! We have just arrived.

At a cozy dinner, which also two other guests participate, we learn even more from the almost inexhaustible experience of Klaus. We discuss our route planning with Klaus and in the first instance he is frightened about our project. You want to drive alone, without chauffeur? You will be surprised! He knows the island as his pocket.

Our car is already in the yard. Outwardly, the Nissan makes a good impression. Highly reinforced chassis, snorkel for the water passages, steel push rods and winches. But the equipment is a disaster. A plastic garden table for 6 people, which only fits into the canopy diagonally, is the crowning glory. more...


Part II >  Vangaindrano - Taolagnaro           26.09. - 03.10.2016               481 km



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The East Coast

The closer we get to the town of Vangaindrano, "the land where you can buy water", the more the landscape opens up into a broad fertile plain that is permeated by wide rivers. There are many people on the way from the city or to the city. It's a market day, and we also stroll around, buy one thing and the other, and get delicious bread. Suddenly I feel somebody touching my right bottom cheeks. I react quickly, the zipper is already open, and I can still see the boy disappearing in the crowd. In the bag I only have a few notes, they are still there. Also this could happen.

For the continuation of our journey, we have to take the narrow road directly leading through the market. For us it is always a strange feeling to drive through. But people find it quite normal, pull their mats a bit aside and do not even notice us.
The tarred road ends in Vangaindrano and a really terrible track starts. Partly the lane grooves are so deep that we can touch the road from the side window. With a little more than a step speed, very often in the low gear, we move forward.

Directly by the sea we find a nice place to stay. It is our first night out in the bush and we are already curious how it will be how people will react to us. We start to cook, set up our tent, everything is normal. A young man with a Maki on his shoulder comes the way. He introduces us to his cuddly friend, who likes to eat banana, then he moves on. A few guys come by, saying "hello". That's it. Also in the morning there are no children in front of our tent.
At some distance a few children lie in the sand and look at us curiously. Of course, we asked in the village if we could sleep here before we settled here. We were strongly advised to always ask, in order not to violate any "fady", which could become uncomfortable. Fadys are a network of rules, commands, and prohibitions that determine the social life of a community.

In the main issue, Europeans are affected with the fact that our behavior does not crumble any "holy" places. For us, some fadys seem absurd, for example, when we hear that there are places on the island where twin births are regarded as a great misfortune. In this case a baby is suspended or even killed after birth. It's mend a bad fady to have twins. more...


Part III >  Taolagnaro - Manja           03.10. - 15.10.2016                       1.176 km


Among Thorns People

The surrounding area of Taolagnaro is very fertile and therefore also densely populated. Main means of transport for people and transport are bicycles. There are true pack artists, three giant coal sacks and on top of it still two beer crates are not a rarity on a bike. And the one who want to do a long distance, take one of the large transport trucks. But comfort is different! People are sitting on benches on the loading platform, but these are placed above the load and offer just enough space that you can put your knees "on your ears". Tall people do certainly have a problem.

After a few kilometers, the last stretch of tar road is ending in the water-filled pot holes and our average speed is reduced again to about 10 km / h. The road remains adventurous. In the villages we experience heartbreaking sightings of dirty children in rags and torn clothes. Old people and mothers with children are begging and stretching out their hands. The poverty is extreme.

We cross a small pass and arrive in a different climatic zone. There are hardly any people on the road it is not a suitable habitat for humans and animals. It is stony, sandy and even hotter.

At the small village of Amboasary we cross huge sisal fields. It is the most important employer in the South. The fields, as well as the small village, are supplied by the largest river of the south, the Mandrara. But at the current season the river is only a trickle.

Again and again we see small obelisks on the roadside. They are memorials. The tribes in the south of the island do not bury their dead people immediately. They bring the corpse to a hidden place so that the soul has time to leave the body. And it is only later that the mortal remains are buried.

The ground becomes ever sandy. For the most part, dark red sand determines the landscape. The daily rain starts at 2 pm. But we still reach the next place. Ambovombe is the most dreadful village we have ever seen in Madagascar. Dusty, dirty, many lingering figures, the poorest of the poor, barefooted and wrapped in perforated blankets. Rubbish and oxcarts determine the street image. more...


Part IV >  Manja - Antananarivo           15.10. - 26.10.2016                        1.328 km


The West Coast

We stop in a meadow at a small village about 20km further. Immediately we are observed, but the inhabitants do not approach us at all. On the contrary, if I try to approach them, they drop their buckets and run away. A young woman and then a couple of youngsters who take their cattle home come to us very hesitantly. We try to explain our concerns with hands and feet. No one speaks even a word French. They simply do not seem to be able to imagine that we want to sleep here. An older man comes to it, and we manage to make it clear to him what we want. He takes us to the village, to the village square, and here we are supposed to sleep. No, no, we do not want to disturb. And so we set up our tent 100 meters away under a larger tree group, of course, under the observation of some children and women.

In the morning, as soon as the villagers noticed a movement with us, a crowd of children is gathered around our vehicle and the tent. They are curious but not intrusive. Of course, everything they see promotes their desire, they could need anything. We would like to thank the old man, who spoke to us the day before, with some food. It was ultimately a good decision not to stay in this horrible hotel. The warmth and hospitality of the people is fantastic, we had a lot of fun.

On a sandy track sometimes bumpy, sometimes deep, but overall very good passable we make our way through the savannah-like landscape. Also the few river passes are no problem. We are in the area of the pastoral living Sakalafa. They are cattle breeders and they do a little cultivation to their own needs. Much in the area is similar to other areas in Africa, which we have already seen, such as the construction of the houses. This type of construction we have already admired in North Mozambique.

The closer we get to Belo sur Mer, the louder and more urgent are the calls and actions of the children, but also of the women. They ask for t-shirts, sweets, pens.... Yes, we have arrived in the tourist area.

Belo sur Mer is a sleepy town that is only accessible for 5 months a year, as it is located on a land directly beside the sea. One reaches the place through a floodplain and the salt mining area. The place is known all over the country on the one hand because of the salt production, but also because of the traditional boat building.
We find a charming, small bungalow complex and feel equally comfortable. The constant swinging on the worst slopes is annoying. more...

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Madagascar is different! This sentence is heard and read as a matter of course, when one begins to deal with the fourth largest island on earth. But it is different than what?

After our very intense six-week trip, we can confirm that Madagascar is different than all the African countries we have traveled so far. And it is one of the poorest countries we have ever seen. We have seen pictures that remain in our minds, at a first glance shocking, but, as so often, gradually we get used to it, we turn away from the misery, and also point back beggars.
It is important to note that time is the most important thing to bring, on the one hand because of the often extremely bad roads and on the other hand because of the contact with the people. If you only have less than 3 weeks, you should not start on your own, it is not worth it. The distances are long and the roads really bad. The island offers terrific, wide, untouched landscapes. We had expected more rainforest, but on our route large parts of the forests have been destroyed.
As it is our way, we traveled very basic. We were very close in touch with the people and therefore, it was extremely interesting and entertaining for us. In the beginning the people are rather hesitant and reserved but then they open up quickly and are accessible, friendly and nice. People are not at all intrusive, rather amiable and quiet. Our experiences were very positive.
The language is French, but in rural areas it is hardly spoken. English is spoken very rarely. Traffic is also not worse than in other African countries, you just have to keep in mind that the buses stop at all times to get off and on, and that many bus drivers on the winding roads rarely deviate from their ideal line. But this is not just the case on Madagascar. One should also know that the bridges are single lane. The right of way rule is simple, who first makes a headlight, has the right of way. It works so tackle defensively.
On Madagascar the law of the strongest is not implemented, even rickshaws and handcarts have right of way, all are equally entitled. Even people do not go aside, one must constantly be aware that someone just appears in front of you. Should you have an accident, you are to blame, regardless of who is at fault. It is simply because we're white.
Many places on the island are without influence of media and social pressure. Life takes place as it did decades ago. The time has stopped, there are even villages without oxcarts then you go on foot. We have come through villages and places where people did run away from us, hiding. The sight of white people is reminiscent of the night ghost superstition is still very strong.
The route we have traveled can only be made in the dry season. Some areas are only accessible a few months a year. As we have described it in detail in the text, the roads are very bad and the travel is arduous.
The accommodations are sometimes not the best. It is therefore worthwhile in any case to have a tent and equipment to be able to sleep in the event of the falls.
In Madagascar there is still little tourism and when, then high-priced in the few tourist areas around the sights. Madagascar is not a cheap travel country, self-organized, however, one can live cheaply.

Our experience in a nutshell is as follows: In our opinion, Trans-African-travelers do not have to "go" to Madagascar to see or experience something special. Of course, the east coast of Madagascar is different from the south or the west coast, but overall it is not exciting differently than anywhere else in Africa. Anyone who travels through Africa for years would not have to travel to Madagascar. Besides, one takes money in order to fly to the quite remarkable tourist highlights of the island, which are relatively far apart, and then do the visits organized.

In any case, you should make your choice which places shall be visited, and then decide how to travel. If you want to drive yourself, it is extremely difficult to find a vehicle rental company. For someone who likes to drive off-road, a chauffeur is not necessary. However necessary in our opinion is offroad and navigation experience, as well as a good planning with regard to route and rainy seasons.
For us, Madagascar was an "additional country" that we have traveled. We felt comfortable and liked it, but we do not have to "come back".



Madagascar -

>> The Highlands



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