MADAGASCAR November 2008
Flying from Mauritius to Tanananarive we changed from Air Mauritius to Air Madagascar…there you quickly realize – you’re in a different world!
We stayed for one night in Tanas famous colonial hotel “Le Colbert“ which is situated in the center of Tana. Isa had even time to enjoy the hotel spa!
Out of several warnings from friends we bravely stayed around the hotel in order not to get in trouble. As a fact – Tana does not really look like the city for sightseeing. But besides some pickpockets it seems less dangerous than other big cities.
Next morning when driving to the airport at 5 am (!) we learned that Madagascar people are very sporty – especially early in the morning. All around the roads were running plenty of joggers, some of them in Nike’s and others in Flip Flops!
Punctually we got on our flight to Diego Suarez (Antsiranana) – we should learn later that we were very lucky getting on a national in time. Once travelling back to Mauritius we quickly learned that Air Madagascar has their own time schedules which to not really correspond with times and dates you have on your flight tickets…
Getting around in Madagascar is not very easy… but on the other hand pretty exciting as you learn to know the country best when travelling.
From Diego on we went with a pretty overloaded car to Ramena (15 km distance – in about 1 hour). We past several police controls, but the only one who really stopped us just needed a ride to their destination. So the two policemen took place beside the driver not bothering at all while this one made his phone calls…..
Arriving in the little fisher village Ramena, Richardson, the local Manager of Babaomby, was waiting for us with Patrick “le Capitaine” and we loaded all our stuff on the Fisher boat “surfing spirit” to get to our final destination.
The see was really quiet – so instate of passing huge waves in the channel we comfortably got to the Mer d’Emeraude after about 45 minutes.
The Mer d’Emeraude is really worth its name – arriving there the see colour changes from blue to a clear light green!
Babaomby Eco Lodge
Imaging how Robinson Crusoe felt arriving on his lost island….. then add the service of a lodge with a perfect cuisine, a windsurf station, showers, toilets and tents. Especially the tents were important: You can close them hermetically against Isa’s special friends the Mosquitoes.
The Lodge is just amazing – especially as we were the only guests for the first days staying there. The Babaomby Crew with its 11 people gave us a warm welcome on the beach. All personal is local and being on our own we had a lot of opportunities to learn about the “malgasch” way of living. By the way – all white people are called “wasa”.
The lodge is placed in the middle of know where…. So our neighbours were lemurs, snakes and all different kind of animals. The good news: besides some “M” Mosquitoes during the rain season – nothing is dangerous.
Even Isa who is known for her light “mosquito panic” only used half of the antibrumm stock she took with her.
Food they prepared was delicious – it’s incredible what they manage to cook in a small cuisine with just an open fire.
Our personal fisher got out every morning to get the fresh catch of the day for lunch and dinner. Yes imagine... Andy eating fish twice every day! Okay, after a few days he started dreaming about pizzas… and after one week he had a nightmare: in his pizza dream – a fresh pizza comes out of the oven… and it’s a “frutti di mare” ;-)
By the way, Nicolas, the boss of Babaomby is thinking about building a pizza oven to his open cuisine next year...
If you ever go there, just don’t think about communication you really don’t want to have it there… but in emergency, there are two possibilities left: 1. Hike on the mountain; 2. Wait for low tide and walk out into the see ;-)
Normally the wind blows with about 30-40 knots during the season June-October, with a probability of about 95%. The wind is getting less in November/December so that we arrived pretty late in the season. Although we were lucky – except for 2 days the wind stayed for us so that we passed plenty of time kiting.
In front of Babaomby the see is flat – perfect to train jumps. Especially as you there’s nobody around you!
On the outside reef you get perfect waves with wind from the right side.
We had the entire see for ourselves – just one day we saw two other kites far away… we thought about sending a complaint to the beach patrol ;-)
Country & People
Or shall we rather speak about country and animals??
The Madagascar we got to know was pure nature. After a few steps you’re in the middle of the forest to see the animal world. Chameleons, Geckos, all sorts of birds, zebus and so on… not to forget the cute Lemurs. From the camp you can do nice treks walking up the little mountain behind Babaomby. Once up on the mountain you get an amazing view over the bay of Diego Suarez and it’s “pain de sucre” which is the second largest bay in the world.
The moment you leave the big city of Tana, Madagascar stays a country where a lot of things are still 100 years behind modern times. Our camp manager Richardson who is pretty modern and has a good school education per example had never heard about the existence of a dishwasher.
People live on a very simple standing. The minimum salary is about 80’000 Ariary which corresponds to 60 CHF.
Malagasy people descent from several ethnic groups and live in a sort of a clan system. Although the whole country speaks the same language and their believe in the power of ancestors and customs is very strong.
Madagascar people are famous for their hospitality and we really got to know this!
In Babaomby we even got to know the French Consul and his Family. The famous “poisson du consul” will always keep his place in the best menus of Babaomby kitchen.
During rain season Madagascar is not really the place to travel with about 90 kg of luggage. Travelling on the dirt road is long and sometimes impossible – and air travel is still a little complicated as mentioned before.
Rain season started earlier this year. That’s why we decided not to continue to the south and actually left Madagascar earlier than scheduled. So we changed our flights and got back to Mauritius - time to get our equipment ready to continue to Vietnam mid December.
After 4 days back in Mauritius we were quite surprised: Federal health care service knocked on our door to test us for malaria! We were pretty surprised ;-) but actually they seem to have a real good health care system!