Madagascar, the 4th largest island in the world, is still a destination not very popular with tourists. Aline shows us her treasures and how to get there.
Tourism in Madagascar
It is not a destination that is very popular with people because tourism is not yet very well established there. I noticed that there wasn’t a lot of information about the country and the more I searched, the more I realized that it was going to be a real adventure.
I felt like I was traveling in the 80s with this bush trip; it is one of the few countries that seems to have been forgotten by time and modernization. I advise you to go there to live this unique experience before tourism develops further.
The roads aren’t very nice, so you have to plan a lot more time to cover the distances. On the beautiful roads, we needed more than 5-6 hours to cover 300 km.
The structure of the country is not really set up for independent travel. This is still possible, but it will take a lot of patience and resourcefulness. Public transit was unreliable and did not reach most of the national parks. As far as hotels and youth hostels were concerned, there was not much choice either.
This tropical rainforest is home to the entire population of golden bamboo lemur. The latter is critically endangered because there are not many forests left that contain giant bamboos. The ground was wet all the way through so it was a very wet hike, so it was a very muddy.
During the two days of hiking in this park, we could see this type of lemur only once. We’ve really been looking for them, though. Maybe they’re too good at camouflaging themselves? Or there aren’t many of them.
Then we left the highlands and continued our journey through more arid lands. There was a small family of striped lemur near the Malagasy village of Ranohira. When I think of Madagascar, it is the image of this lemur that comes to mind.
Isalo National Park
The transition to a desert landscape was drastic. Our hikes in Isalo National Park were rather in a lunar and canyon scenery. Personally, I prefer open places like Isalo compared to the rainforest of Ranomafana.
It was very hot and we had several opportunities to cool off in natural pools and observe the few waterfalls. We had a guide with us who took us to these oases. It wasn’t hard to find them, but it was almost impossible to know which way to go to get to them.
In addition, we could see another variety of lemur.
Finally, regions with a lot of rock formations like Isalo change completely depending on the time of day. The sunset brings out all kinds of new colours.
Ifaty - Toliara
We finished our week’s trip to the beach to rest with all his hikes.
Of course, we went to see baobabs which are emblematic of Madagascar. They were all over the way. Some of them are low enough that you can climb them to get a piece of fruit!
The fishermen brought their catch of the day to our hotel so our meals were always very fresh. You couldn’t ask for anything better!
And they also took us for a ride in a dugout canoe when they weren’t fishing!
First of all, this stage won’t be very easy with the points, but still possible with a little perseverance.
Turkish Airlines and Ethiopian Airlines serve Madagascar on the IST-TNR and ADD-TNR routes (in non-pandemic weather) so you can use Aeroplan points to cover the cost of the air ticket. Unfortunately, I’ve noticed that availability on these roads is rather rare. A one-way economy class ticket will cost you between 70,000 and 100,000 Aeroplan points under the new fare structure.
It is still quite difficult to find bargains for plane tickets since not many airlines go there. If you are unlucky in your search with Aeroplan, you should turn to the members of SkyTeam to try to find availability on Air France (through CDG) or Kenya Airways (through NBO). Air France has much more availability for the awards redemptions.
It’s by planning trips like these that I realize how valuable the Amex membership points are. Although you shouldn’t earn miles and points without objectives, I still think it’s a good idea to keep a small bank of points-privilege points. A travel opportunity will arrive so quickly and you can still transfer these points easily for use with almost any airline!
However, once there, the expenses will be very minimal.
To give you an idea of the prices for our group of three people:
- driver and 4×4 car, per day ~50-60€.
- meal in a tourist restaurant ~3-5€.
- 4 stars hotel room, per night ~40€.
In our case, we shopped our itinerary on the spot. We knew what we wanted to do as a trip and simply hired a driver to take us where we wanted to go in the country. According to our driver, the majority of tourists in Madagascar book organized tours or hire a private driver.
We were in Madagascar on a humanitarian mission. Through all my travels, I always try to find a way to give back to the country that welcomes me. When I found out that I was a kid…
This mission touched me a lot because there were Malagasy people who had been living with dental pain for years. Another highlight of the mission was when a 58-year-old man received glasses and started crying because it was probably the first time he had seen clearly in a long time.
- Tourist visa available upon arrival for Canadians, expect a very long line.
- ATMs are not always functional
- Malagasy prefer the euro as a foreign currency
If you want to follow my adventures on Instagram, my account is wanderingaline!