So! Madagascar then... lots of questions!

May 24th, 2007, 04:00 AM
  #1  
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So! Madagascar then... lots of questions!

So, am looking at putting together an independent itinerary for Madagascar. If you can help with any of the following, please chime in:

When to go?
We need to balance great wildlife viewing with tolerable weather - neither of us can tolerate the heat nor humidity. What month fits those two needs best?

Where to go?
So many parks and reserves not to mention all the little extra places en route. Which ones are must-sees? Which ones can be missed out? Which ones are easy to get to and which ones are a nightmare to get to? Which ones necessitate either an (expensive) flight or a long drive and are they still worth it? Which ones require self-guided walks and drives and which ones are good to see with an expert guide? Where the latter is the best option are guides provided by the park/ reserve, by the accommodation or booked separately by us? Oh and we're not beach lovers, by the way, so only interested in coastal resorts if they offer wildlife viewing opportunities we shouldn't miss.

Where to stay
Matches up a lot to the last one but are there any places that stand out to stay in. I have one or two in mind already but could do with more input. Which parks would be good if only they had decent accommodation but aren't as good because they don't? Which places are enhanced by their accommodation options and the associated services? Some places offer activities such as guided walks and even nocturnal walks. In short, can you recommend any places and also warn us away from any?

THANKS EVERYONE!
Kavey is offline  
May 24th, 2007, 04:21 AM
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Kavey, I can't help with any of your questions But I just wanted to say I'm delighted you have decided on Madagascar, I'm sure you won't regret it and now the fun of planning can start ..... happy planning!

Imelda
OnlyMeOirish is offline  
May 24th, 2007, 05:52 AM
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Thanks Imelda!
It's not definite yet as I may find it doesn't work flights wise (my parents are kindly donating airmiles) or cost wise or something... I'll keep you updated though!

I'm going to pick up the guide book Thit_Cho recommended over the weekend but am still really keen to receive responses to the above based on personal experience!
Kavey is offline  
May 24th, 2007, 07:53 AM
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yay!

the weather was excellent when we went in late november. it was not at all memorable, which is why i can say it was excellent- not too hot, not too cold, clear skies, no rain.

the easiest park to visit is the only one on earth where you can hear the world famous indri and is located an easy 2-3 hours drive from the airport,
andasibe. you can arrive, be collected and be on your way.

there were new accoms being built when we went and those will be the nicest. do not know what they are called, but the downmarket accoms are a guest house right at the base of the trails (easy trails) to see the indri, the "upscale" lodge where we stayed is more like a 2* and has its own restaurant and lovely pool and basic chalets and gift shop located a good 25 minute drive away. the chalets had nice furnishings, but there were gaps in the doors and the bathroom was very unpleasant cement summer camp type. however, it is on the same parcel as the most amazing place where you can visit a sort of lemur rehab project and all the types live there- and will take food from your hand! lucky you!

with some time, most people move on from this area to the next park up and then go to the town with a 't" along the coast.

then you fly north to the nice island for snokeling, etc.

the secondary lemur area is a bit more time conmsuming but that is the only place to see the other type, which look like squirrels. berenty is the name of that one. the flights come and go in such a way that you are forced to overnight twice, which is why we cut out that option. that and november was not a good time weather wise for that region of the country.

do not expect anything approachiung southern afria style lodging. madagascar is very impoverished in general but is a gorgeous country. there are posters on the lonelyplanet, one of whom has a fantastic website and hopefully you can locate that.

it has been many trips ago that we were there- but it's fantastic and probably the best place i've ever been in 40 countries...easily best wildlife experience in africa - rhino tracking, cheetah petting inclusive!

being fluent in french will greatly improve your experience if you or your husband speak it, but will not ruin it if you do not.

kerikeri
kerikeri is offline  
May 24th, 2007, 08:08 AM
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Great, thanks so much. Will check out Thorntree - haven't posted or even visited there for ages - and see if I can find that website.

Do you remember names for any of the accommodations? No worries if not!

THANKS!
Kavey is offline  
May 24th, 2007, 08:23 AM
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Check out Cortez travel's web site

http://www.air-mad.com/

It has all the details you are looking for in this post.


We are going next year in April right after the rainy season to see all the baby lemurs! We have American friends in the country for over 25 years and they highly recomend a visit. We can't wait.

I have been devouring the Brandt book. There is a fairly recent edition.

Enjoy!
ijkh is offline  
May 24th, 2007, 08:40 AM
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Yep, there's is a website I've already checked out but there's a world of difference in a website maintained by commercial interests and real-life feedback from visitors who have experienced it from themselves!

Thit_Cho recommended the same guidebook so I'll be looking to pick that up over this weekend!

Are you currently planning a trip too or do you already have one booked?
Kavey is offline  
May 24th, 2007, 10:17 AM
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In addition to the guidebook recommended by Thit Cho, I am sure the animated movie Madagascar would provide extensive background and insights.

Please keep us posted on what you learn and we will all benefit. Then have a marvelous trip!
atravelynn is offline  
May 24th, 2007, 10:30 AM
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I read that the Malagasy people were THRILLED about the animated movie -- I guess it's a variation on the newspaper bromide -- "don't care what they say about me as long as they spell the name right"!
Pula is offline  
May 24th, 2007, 11:06 AM
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Ha haaa... oddly enough we were thinking of going and thinking of going and thinking of going for years but we decided we'd give it a miss for the year immediately following the film as I figured that it might be a busier than average year what with kids begging their parents or parents thinking they could expand their kids' horizons...
Kavey is offline  
May 24th, 2007, 12:11 PM
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Oh darnit. Just found out the new edition of the Bradt Madagascar guide is coming out in July. Although I can get the existing edition on Amazon the Bradt site aren't even listing it - instead they are accepting pre-orders for the new one.

I hate buying guide books just before the next edition comes out!!!

Grrr!
Kavey is offline  
May 24th, 2007, 08:13 PM
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Kavey, I had a different experience than kerikeri, and since most of us who have been to Madagascar have only been once, we each have singular experiences. For example, when I was in Andasibe/Perinet, our hikes to find the indri were up and down muddy hills, sliding down on our backsides, and scrambling under wet brush -- it depends where the indri are located. Its similar, I guess, to the gorilla treks -- my hikes in Uganda and Rwanda were very easy, but others have had more difficult treks.

Also, Berenty, in my view, is a "must see" -- its the best place to wander freely without a guide, and the lemurs are very approachable -- you can get within a few feet of the ringtails. Also, its the best place to see sifakas dancing across the road -- I think the picture on the cover of the Lonely Planet was taken in Berenty. It also has introduced brown lemurs, and they can also be followed closely.

You can also do a night hike into the spiny forest, and see some strange lemurs bouncing from spiny plant to spiny plant.

The rooms are clean, but spartan, but so are most of the lodges in the parks. The best lodges are at the coast.
thit_cho is offline  
May 29th, 2007, 10:19 AM
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boy this was buried!

i looked it up and the "upscale" lodge located exactly 7 kms from the park entrance, (but a long windy road) was vakona lodge. the pictures really do look lovely if you see it online, but the roomes were not all the comforts of home and the food did not make us sick, but was really grim.

the next table from us was a group that had just toured south africa and they would npotstop winging about the terrible accoms. we were coming in the pother direction, so we had nothing to compare.

the islands to go to afterwards are either nosy be (some direct flights from places other than jnb) or ile st. marie. we did not get there, but i think i had decided that ile st. marie would be the better choice.

andasibe park is also known as perinet reserve. (the park that is a short drive, relatively, from tana).

hope this is helpful.

kerikeri
kerikeri is offline  
May 29th, 2007, 10:45 AM
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An alternative to Vakona Lodge is a Chinese owned accommodation Feon'ny Ala (?) very, very near the park. I was told that from there you can hear the forest sounds all around and that it is therefore preferable if you are keen on wildlife. I was steered away from it ostensibly because it is unheated and can be quite cold at night. I asked to stay there anyway and couldn't get in as it was already fully booked -- apparently because "it is favored by the Europeans"! Maybe you'll have better luck. I'll be staying at the grim old Vakona after all!
Pula is offline  
May 29th, 2007, 12:05 PM
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Thanks so much, everyone!

Have not been working on this over the long weekend as it was Pete's birthday so I had booked tickets to the Lord of the Rings musical on Saturday and then a late booking (made it on Friday night) for a posh hotel for Sunday night. Hotel was a delight - nothing of interest surrounding it but a marvellous room that was perfect for lazing away the entire afternoon/ evening... gorgeous place.

Anyway, I've started a little spreadsheet so will add this info in. THANKS!
Kavey is offline  
May 29th, 2007, 12:10 PM
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Wow, Madagascar! That sounds really cool! Please let us know what you find out and how the planning goes!

Moira
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May 29th, 2007, 12:17 PM
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Will do!
Kavey is offline  
May 29th, 2007, 02:32 PM
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BTW singing Hobbits are a really scary thought...

Moira
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May 31st, 2007, 11:37 AM
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Habari njema Kavey! Have you made any additional decisions? This caught my eye as I am thinking of heading over to Madagascar from Tanzania in February. It would be great if we were there at the same time OR if that does not work out, if you went before me and passed along your notes! gt;

Den
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May 31st, 2007, 01:09 PM
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It's a bit of a cop out but at the moment I'm a) reading up on Madagascar and b) waiting for kind donor of airmiles (that will be purchasing our tickets) to return from holiday so I can investigate flight options with him!!!
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