Most Inspirational Moment
Definitely the first night we arrived in Andasibe to the call of Indris in the distance. That will be a memory that stays with me forever. The dry forests and desert landscapes were so incredible to see as well. The beach in Anakao at the end, spectacular! Getting to know our group leader as well and spending time with her on the trip was also very special, as well as the lovely people in our group. Perhaps not inspirational, more sobering, was getting to see first-hand the devastating effects of slash-and-burn agriculture. It was disheartening to witness this and other environmental destruction. The biodiversity in Madagascar is particularly precious and I fear it will be gone within the next couple decades. I'm more committed than ever in continuing to support local organizations to protect what still remains. Please do not purchase any souvenir animal products, wood products, gemstones or other trinkets that can't be sourced ethically. Foreigners continue to have a role in driving some (if not much) of the ruin you will witness.
Thoughts on Group Leader
She was excellent. I can't say enough good things about her. She is intelligent, kind and had a great sense of humour. She took her job very seriously and had so much integrity, I didn't question for a moment that we were in great hands the whole trip. We had quite a large group, 16 people (which I was not aware of before arriving in Madagascar) and initially worried about how one person was going to be able to manage so many people, but she did so with great expertise and care. It was a tough job for her, but I always felt she had all of our best interests at heart and was flexible with the schedule, depending on how people were feeling and what their needs were. I was quite sad at the end to say goodbye!
Advice for Potential Travellers
Take it as it comes, be flexible and don't arrive with too many expectations. I've done a lot of traveling and don't take this privilege for granted, but this was one of the top adventures I've ever had. The opportunity to see the most endangered mammals on the planet and the exquisite biodiversity this island has to offer, really can't be matched. Try and stay in the moment and really appreciate every minute of this adventure. If you're not comfortable being in an intensive group situation or going without creature comforts, this may not however be the trip for you. Expect and plan for digestive illness, it comes with the territory. I suffered quite a bad case of food poisoning, but the group leader managed it well and allowed for me to convalesce for a couple days before rejoining the tour. Educate yourselves before coming, about the island, peoples and appropriate conduct when visiting delicate ecosystems. Do not feed the animals, ever, we had some people who did this and it was incredibly upsetting.
I would love to do this trip all over again :)