Travel Journal


(Wednesday 2 March 2011) by Mike and Julie's sort of round the world trip
Day 190-1 2/11-12/11
The countryside in the southern part of Madagascar is very bizarre and very beautiful. There are many rice terraces, along with cacti, mango trees, zebus, mud huts, funeral rocks piles and houses with carved balconies. If you show me pictures of this, I would have guess Vietnam, India, and a bunch of other places and Madagascar would never come to mind. The road is paved and so it was a comfortable drive although slow going in the van with stops for passengers and lunch. Ranohira is a small town – no bank fortunately we had enough money for our stay and transportation out at the end. We checked a couple places before we settled on Momos which is a decent budget hotel where we got a hut. There was a problem with getting water but that was resolved. Because it was low season the guides were prowling the streets and hounding us to sign them up but we arranged a guide through our hotel. We followed the sounds of cheering and happened upon a high school basketball game between two schools. Each team had jersey shirts but that was about it. They wore different shorts and some players did not even have shoes. There was a lot of spirit in their play but not a lot of skill but it was fun watching them play.
The next morning we paid the 25,000AR each for entrance into Parc National de L’isalo and waited for our guide at Angap which is the park’s office. He was a half hour late which later was reflected in our tip to him. The guide spoke good English and was good at pointing at the flora in the area. We had decided to combine two hikes into the day trip and did the Piscine Naturelle and the Circuit Crete (natural pool and crest route). The local tribe buries the dead in natural caves claimed by the families and then blocks the entrance to these temporary tombs with stones. After several years, the body is exhumed and the bones placed in small metal boxes and after a celebration, the box is placed in the mountain at a height suitable for the deceased age.
We also passed piles of wishing stones on the path, rock tombs from a tribe that previously lived in the area, and great views of the valley as we made our way among the mountain crest. Julie seemed to take an unhealthy interest on a poisonous plant which is apparently hard to trace as a cause of death. We ran across a group of ring-tailed lemurs in the park and had a chance to observe them for awhile. Julie also was fascinated by the walking stick insect. Can you find it in the photo?
The weather was a bit hot so we appreciated the natural pool towards the end of the day. The land is a bit arid so the lush growth around the waterfall and pool had an oasis look to it. Julie swam for the first time in her bra and panties in front of other people! My little girl is growing up! After a refreshing swim we hiked back. All told, it was about ten miles for both circuits.
While we were hounded for obtain guide service, we also were approached as soon as we got off the taxi to buy ongoing service to our next town. I had read that prices are controlled by the government depending upon distance, road condition, and so on, but in reality the touts will try to sell tickets at any price they want. We declined several offers until we found a reasonable price that the innkeeper said was alright and arranged for a ride the next morning to Fianarantsoa where we would have to catch another taxi brousse to Parc National deRanomafana.

  • good looking by mom

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