"""" Madagascar

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We arrived in Tana relatively late at night, which is par for the course for most international flights, and were immediately beset by eager taxi drivers vying for business. This is a bit disorientating, even for seasoned travellers, so we would recommend booking a hotel ahead of time, at least for your first night.

We used hostelworld.com, which has places all over Madagascar and is worth a look, and booked a night at the Hotel Tana Plaza. It is a little sanitised, but was clean and has aircon and is very central, all of which made it perfect for that first night, before starting properly in the morning.

The next day we wandered around the market and had lunch before strolling off to the main taxi brousse depot (or whatever you'd call it) to head for Andasibe and one of Madagascar's main nature reserves. The market was quiet as it wasn't the big market day, but still worth strolling around.

Tana Pictures:

Leaving Tana was fairly straightforward, once we'd managed to find the taxi brousse station (via a cab ride in a Renault 4 that needed repairs halfway there) but we did learn a very important lesson about travel in Madagascar: get up as early as possible and leave first thing! Everything takes forever - Andasibe is only supposed to be an hour and a half away, but we had to wait for the taxi brousse to fill up to beyond capacity, wait for refuelling, wait for the chaps to pile up the bags, cases and chickens and god knows what else on top before we finally left

The journey was pretty slow and tortuous, and it was well and truly dark by the time we arrived at Moramanga, which was still a good hour from Andasibe. We happened to befriend a member of the local police force on his way home for the weekend who managed to negotiate a ride to Andasibe for us, but he recommended against travelling alone at night and we reckon he is probably right - there were never any overt signs of danger but there are no lights, the roads are awful and everyone is out to try and make a little bit of money out of you, so you can be on the back foot a bit after nightfall. But arrive we did, late and un-booked (I had talked Kate into travelling in the proper backpacking style, with no plans whatsoever, when she is a little more of a luxury day spa kind of girl, but she bore it very well) at the Hotel Orchidee in Andasibe.