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Showing reviews for Madagascan Discoverer

Number of Reviews: 12 Overall score: *****
Sunset at Baobab Alley
Review posted by Robert Stevenson
***** Written

Madagascan Discoverer trip - September 2014

I was in a group of twelve on the 4 September 2014 trip, led by a very popular Malagasy guide (favourably referred to in many reviews) whose very long name was conveniently shortened to "Sol". Weather at this time of year turned out to be mainly very good - not over-hot in the later stages of the trip. Unfortunately, our first few days in the rain forest were pretty damp - it rained non-stop. This did not prevent us seeing any of the wildlife but some of the initial photos inevitably reflected the difficulty of taking them. Occasionally, as in the Kirindi reserve, the lemurs are habituated to humans and, if you sit quietly, one troupe will come and mingle - especially if you give them some water. (Don't touch their tails!) Others stick to the high trees and are often frustratingly difficult to photograph because so many branches and twigs get in the way. After the rain forest we flew back to Antananarivo ("Tana") and, thereafter until the last day, all travel was by road. Apart from splitting the group into four 4WDs for the Tsingy excursion, all driving was in a smallish bus. The bus was reasonably comfortable and air-conditioned but we rarely felt the need for the A/C as long as the fan was on. There are a lot of long driving days but the roads on the circular part of the tour are all pretty good and, if you want to see the country properly, there is really no alternative. Sol made sure we had plenty of stops so the experience was fine for most of us - if not all. The road up to the Tsingy was a different matter and was in serious need of improvement. It will probably get this before too long - graders were already in evidence and tourists will wonder what the fuss was about within a couple of years. Ferry crossings were slow and inefficient but provided a good opportunity to chill out. The worst length of dirt road is probably between Tulear and the hotel north of Ifaty. This requires a lot of patience and will probably not be upgraded anytime soon. Hotels were, as indicated by previous reviews, surprisingly good and pretty clean for the most part. For those who cannot get away from their phones or tablets Wi-Fi is available at most of them - if only in Reception. Electricity is sometimes rationed (e.g. 7-10pm only) and room lighting usually leaves a lot to be desired. One "tented" camp was a bit basic but perfectly acceptable. Meals were good - although menus were not particularly varied. If you like Zebu steak and chips you will enjoy this trip a lot. That said some of the fish is excellent and I had one meal of lobster which was greatly enjoyed. Desserts are mainly fruit so it is difficult to over-indulge too much. As regards health issues I was lucky - being on antibiotics for a pre-holiday infection. I suspect this protected me because everybody else had tummy troubles during the first week, although nobody seemed much under the weather for more than a day or two. Few mosquitos were in evidence - even in the rain forest. I took great care to smother myself in DEET throughout the trip and only relaxed the regime when we returned to Tana at the end - when, inevitably, I suffered several bites. The Tsingy is a strange area of pinnacles and extremely sharp rocks. It is well worth seeing and the climbing element is worth experiencing (not for the faint-hearted but not onerous). We had no problems but it is probably worth making sure that your insurance covers helicopter evacuation (assuming a helicopter is actually available - which may not be the case). To my surprise the scenery on our later circular route did not vary very much - rolling brown/yellow hills with scrub and lots of little square houses. (I had been expecting mountains but we only saw them from a distance in the south). Others have commented on the "slash and burn" approach to agriculture and the deforestation evident, with all the wildlife under threat and confined to reserves. Whilst there is a lot of truth to these observations I felt that most of the scenery we saw had probably not changed much for many years. That said, the change will probably accelerate in the near future so now is a good time to go. Baobabs are nearly everywhere on the west coast and you will get baobabbed out! Tana has some interesting areas and the older buildings on the central escarpment (where the wealthy live) could almost be from an old European town. The lake in the centre of the city is a disgrace - being widely (and openly) used as a latrine and the smell is offputting. Baobab alley was good - although the locals tend to congregate there a lot (some with herds of Zebu) and there were comments to the effect that they spoiled the pictures! Sadly we didn't get a decent sunset there. Others may be luckier. I think now is a very good time to see Madagascar. Tourism, whilst increasing, has not yet taken off and one does not get pestered to buy souvenirs to anything like the irritating extent one does in so many other countries. I think I would still recommend seeing Ethiopia first but this was a good and enjoyable trip and can safely be recommended.
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Sunset at Baobab Alley
Review posted by Patricia Brown
***** Written

Madagascan Discoverer

I enjoyed the variety of scenery and the wildlife, particularly the lemurs. The group was quite small (9 of us) and we seemed to gel well with one another. I enjoyed the food which was more adventurous than that I had in Borneo last year with another company.
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Sunset at Baobab Alley
***** Written

MADAGASCAN DISCOVERER

This was an amazing trip using a variety of transport through a culturally diverse country with varied landscapes and incredible flora and fauna much of which is endemic to Madagascar. This is far more than a wildlife spotting trip, it is an active trip with early starts and most days were packed full-every day was an adventure.
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Sunset at Baobab Alley
***** Written

MADAGASCAN DISCOVERER

A varied trip with excellent scenery and loads of lemurs. You learn a lot about the people and culture of this island. I was a little nervous because of the journey times but very pleased I went. You'll see no other country like it.
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Sunset at Baobab Alley
***** Written

MADAGASCAN DISCOVERER

What a wonderfully all encompassing tour of Madagascar taking in a great selection of the fantastic countryside including lovely beaches on the shores of the Indian ocean, the all important lemurs and other fauna and flora, the people and the culture that makes Madagascar such a diverse interesting place to visit.
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Sunset at Baobab Alley
***** Written

MADAGASCAN DISCOVERER

an all-round fantastic trip, with plenty of opportunities to see wildlife, stunning countryside, explore local markets, go hiking & swimming - be prepared for some bumpy rides and dusty roads, that's part of the fun!
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Sunset at Baobab Alley
***** Written

Too much time in transit

Veteran ecotourists will be disappointed.  Most of the time spent on this trip was in transit, and always on vehicles without air conditioning (in a hot climate).  The lack of government oversight has resulted in a degredation of the National Parks through neglect, slash and burn agriculture, and illegal logging.  The remaining slivers of protected areas are more like outdoor zoos rather than wild areas.  Many of the good photos you might see from this trip are taken from a captive reptile farm and a lemur sanctuary.  Most hotels lacked screens on the windows or air conditioning, which made for very uncomfortable sleeping.  There is very little walking on this trip.  The large group size (16) meant that only people in the front of the group were able to see birds and snakes before they departed.  The capital city is not safe day or night.  It is difficult and time consuming to obtain any money after leaving the airport, which did not always give correct amounts when changing money.  Since you must pay for all your own meals, this quickly became a problem for some of our group.   The guides were excellent on this trip, but it is sad the government of Madagascar is not adequately protecting the last remaining vestiges of natural habitat.  If you have been on prior wildlife viewing holidays you will be disappointed with this trip.  People with breathing problems such as asthma should never attempt this trip, as the slash and burn smoke sometimes does not abate for days.
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Sunset at Baobab Alley
***** Written

MADAGASCAN DISCOVERER

It was an interesting trip, with rather a lot of travelling on poor roads though we saw some interesting sights, a wonderful town market, where we were perfectly safe, and a village which thrived on illegal stills. To an extent the hotels were better than I expected in a poor African country.  I liked the food, particularly the Zebu steak, and the sea food. Plenty of lemurs being charming. Too large a group for the nature walks. It seems a shame that the State seems to be going down hill. Rather too much of a security problem in Tana to walk about. Some lovely craft work to buy, particularly the marquetry. The leader Solo was excellent.
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