IN MADAGASCAR, YOU MUST HAVE A LOT OF TIME
Our first impression of the country was accompanied by police asking for bribes during passport control.
Patrik: Our trip started in Milan with a plane delayed by two hours (new Italian aero-lines Meridiana). After we entered, we immediately knew why. The space was similar to Ryanair planes, mini displays in back-seats were showing errors all the time and it made a noise as it was about to crash. Pleased enough, 9 hours of the flight were waiting for us.
Niki: After landing at mini airport at Nosy-Be, we could smell brisk warm exotic air. Even though, we left plane quite early, suddenly, we were standing in the end of the line for never-ending airport checking. Our first impression of the country was accompanied by police asking for bribes during passport control. In the end, their greediness was satisfied by a sack of food full of dry coko-cakes, smashed tomatoes and cutlet after nine hours of flight. Immediately after that, I aimed for toilets that were full of poop (not only inside). Fast return amused the whole airport personnel. We were curious what is waiting for us next.
Our reputation preceded us and the whole port knew tourists from Slovakia would come with AriAri.
Shoshana: Outside of the building, we were surrounded by a group of Malagasy shouting at us, offering their services. We just wanted to enjoy the new environment, hence, we ran to a nearby resting place and waited for them to go away. Finally, only one Malagasy remained (The one that could speak English). After a talk with him, we had to recalculate our trip to Tana (Antananarivo) – 1000 km. “It will take you long time to get there”, he said. And we believed, because we knew the transport here is time-consuming. We decided to stay in the North area and picked our first destination – national park Ankarafatsika – 500 km. He took us to the port Hell Ville from where we could take a boat to mainland (25 000 AriAri = 8 Eur – expensive here but we had no other option).
Patrik: Our reputation preceded us and the whole port knew tourists from Slovakia would come with AriAri. Again we were easy prey, again we got cheated by giving twice more money to a Malagasy than a price written on the tickets (5000 AriAri). We traveled by a ferry used by local people. Apart from them, it carried food, motorcycles, animals, LCDs and almost everything you can think of. We found a little place in the front and enjoyed pleasant voyage around beautiful islands to village Ankify.
Then followed three hours of waiting for the bus to be fully occupied. Our original driver turned to be a ticket dealer with provision from our payment. Suddenly he disappeared...
Niki: Arrival to the Madagascar mainland was confused. Armed police and million other people were waiting for us in the port. We couldn’t be overlooked, as the only tourists there. We were surrounded by inhabitants of the whole Ankify. Each of them offered some goods. As a small group of three people, we were a bit scared so we tried to run from them. We got rid of all Malagasy at the end of the village where we rested in a shadow with three local women.
Shoshana: Our desired resting was sometimes interrupted by a Malagasy offering ride to the next city Ambanja. We had a fixed price (12000 AriAri) that was not according to their taste. Finally, they found a person that had planned to go there anyway and agreed to our offer. We were travelling like royal family until we started to take new people in every village on the way. In Ambanja, 12 people got out of the car with 7 seats. The situation culminated there. We were dropped out in the city centre where we shined like light-bulbs on Christmas tree. Armed men in cars drove through the city, we were surrounded by group of 20 people, shouting in different languages, trying to cheat us for their business. A man took us to the fenced hotel. There started a bargaining for the long drive to the south.
Patrik: After negotiating the price, the ready-to-go car to Ankarafatsika turned to be a drive to a bus station, before non-existing. Then followed three hours of waiting for the bus to be fully occupied. Our original driver turned to be a ticket dealer with provision from our payment. Suddenly he disappeared and we were seated to totally different car with people we didn’t know. While hoping to manage the target destination, we observed a Malagasy life in wooden cottages and foot travelers between villages. Finally we fell asleep.
Niki: After 15 hours of uncomfortable travel and million stops during the night, we woke up in the city Mahajanga, an unexpected shock. The driver had forgotten to drop us out hours ago. He looked like he didn’t know but had a wicked smile on his face. After a short quarrel we showed him a signed paper with the destination. Fortunately, a Malagasy fellow-traveler with a small English vocabulary helped us out to solve the situation. After two tense hours in locked car, that several strange Malagasy tried to open for their business, our driver took us to different car and paid for a drive back.
On our way back we played with a chameleon for an hour and took a lunch break at camp base.
Patrik: To our pleasant surprise, after day and half of the travel, we encountered quiet and relaxed environment in the park Anakarafatsika. No annoying people, no stress. Finally we could take shower, eat food and get a room. For the first time in Madagascar we could relax and have some sleep.
Shoshana: Next day we took a trip around the park with the only English speaking guide Gildas. First he took us to the dry forest full of diverse species of birds, lemurs, snakes and chameleons. After few hours, we crossed savanna and continued our way in beautiful canyon made of sand and stones. We had to take a exhausting steep climb up and down to get inside the canyon, the choice made only by few tourists. It was worth it. On our way back we played with a chameleon for an hour and took a lunch break at camp base. In the evening we tried to find my favorite animals, crocodiles, in a nearby lake. The walk around took two hours but we weren’t lucky. At least we could make a nice baobab photos in the end. A great ending to the exhausting travel few days ago.