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Fantastic Trip in Madagascar with Rija Tours

I always use these blogs and never post, so now I am posting - Rija Tours is a marvelous little tour company! Myself and a friend wanted to go to Madagascar and we wanted to use a local tour operator to make sure we were supporting the local economy and not feeding greedy European pockets. We approached several different tour companies, but it was easy to chose Rija tours from among them.

Right from the start Rija was incredibly helpful and efficient, suggesting itineraries and advising on what was best for us to do (and this is before we had agreed to book with him). He was always super fast at responding which was really refreshing, and clearly cared about finding the right itinerary that suited us. We needed some internal flights as part of our trip, and there were only a few seats left so Rija went ahead and booked the seats for us immediately, even though we hadn't paid him for them yet, which I was so impressed by. It was a pleasure to plan and discuss our trip with him, and once the route was settled, everything was booked in a matter of days!

When we arrived quite late (tired and hungry!) we were met by our guide - Angelo at the airport, who took us straight to our hotel. The next day we met Rija at his home and went through the trip details - he gave us an official contract and a receipt with all his legal info and registration numbers on it - rare in Madagascar and it certainly made you feel secure! We then set off on our trip with Angelo as our guide. Angelo is an absolute gem! Such a lovely, genuine guy and so attentive, he would always check our hotel rooms for us to make sure they were acceptable and help carry our things even though we could carry them ourselves! Nothing was too much trouble, I can't complement him enough. He would recommend restaurants for us and suggest food to try, and was very knowledgeable about the flora and fauna. He also carries his guitar around with him and will play you Malagasy songs...especially when encouraged by a bit of rum! He's actually really good and I loved hearing him play. He's also really good with the local kids and when we were playing games with them he spent a long time translating the rules for us and joining in!

We did the Tsiribihina river cruise, followed by the Tsingy and Kirindy with Angelo and it was fantastic. Jean Claude our boatman on the river, was tough as an ox and seemed to be able to cover ground in twice the speed of anyone else! Him and Angelo set up our tents to perfection and cooked us wonderful food and then of course, out came the guitar and we were serenaded - perfect! After the river cruise we had a driver as well as Angelo - Mr Love! Also an absolute legend, we found some sand dollars on the beach we wanted to take home one day and we showed them to him. The next day he came back with a perfectly-sized round tin and some duster cloths to use as padding, what a gentleman! Him and Angelo have different music tastes though and they fight over the radio - very funny!

When we flew back to Tana Rija came to meet us again which was really nice of him. Rija himself started out as a local guide, before becoming a national guide and then started this tour company so he is really experienced and it shows - he understands what you need and how to make your trip as easy and enjoyable as possible. And he's obviously good at choosing other good guides because they are all complemented on here!

I really can't say enough good things about this tour company - book with them, have a fantastic adventure in this beautiful country, and know you are supporting this developing economy in the right way. Thankyou Rija Tours!

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