Diary: Week 1 and 2 of our world trip: the north of Madagascar

Wow, we’ve been gone for two weeks! Although these two weeks seem almost like two months, we have seen and done so much. One thing is certain, Madagascar is one of the most beautiful countries I have ever visited! Curious how the past two weeks went? Then read on!


Surprise during the flight

As you may have already read here, I was a bit stressed out about making this trip. Saying goodbye at Schiphol and the preceding days are therefore sometimes quite emotional and stressful. But as I expected, as soon as I am on the plane and hear the cheerful Kenya Airways music, everything is fine and I start enjoying this adventure. Especially when we are surprised with delicious champagne and a dessert that our dear friends Thomas and Christine have arranged with Kenya Airways!

Roadtrip Africa

After a long transfer in Nairobi, a nice flight via the Comoros (islands that I didn’t know at all but looked so beautiful from above that they ended up on my bucket list), we land in the evening at Ivato Airport. After a quick shower in our hotel, we have dinner with Peter and his family. Together with Laura and Okke, Peter runs the Roadtrip Africa branch in Madagascar.

Roadtrip Africa is a Dutch company that rents out cars and jeeps for self-drives in various countries in East Africa. For the first part of our trip through Madagascar, we work together with Roadtrip Africa, so you’ll read more about this in the upcoming blogs.Roadtrip Africa


Our route: 1550 KM in 14 days

The next morning we start our road trip: we travel in one day to Maevetana, a small village where there is not much to do but the perfect place to have a stopover. The next day we continue to the Ankarafantsika nature park. We stay here for two days and enjoy the beautiful nature and camp here in our rooftop tent. Read all about our time in Ankarafantsika here.Canyons Ankarafantsika

Exciting moments in the car

On day five we get back in the car and drive almost all day to get to Antsohihy. This is a somewhat larger city, but there is little to do here so it’s just a stopover. The next day is also a travel day, we drive to Ambanja, a pleasant town full of cyclists. We feel at home here, just like Amsterdam, as a car driver it can get pretty difficult between all the cyclists who cut you off and consider the road as their territory.

That’s not the only difficult aspect of driving a car in Madagascar: the roads here in northern Madagascar are in bad conditions … There are so many holes and parts in the road that we often do not drive faster than 40 km per hour. Travelling is therefore slow. Fortunately, the landscape we drive through is beautiful and driving is just part of this journey!Roadtrip Africa

Tsingy and the northern coast.

After an afternoon in Ambanja, we continue the next morning to another nature park: Ankarana National Park. Here we see beautiful Tsingy and huge caves. Read all about Ankarana National Park here. After two days we continue to the coast, but not before we have stopped at the beautiful Red Tsingy. Here we have a very nice, but also nerve-wracking afternoon (a blog about this will be online soon).Ankarana National park

At the end of the day, we arrive in the large city of Antsiranana, also known as Diego-Suarez. However, we don’t like the hotels we find here and since we like being close to the beach, we decide to continue to Ramena, a small coastal town 18 kilometres from Diego-Suarez. Looking back, we are very happy with this decision! It is a paradise on earth, everything is perfect and we decide to stay here for four days. A blog about this place will follow soon.

Ramana beachOur car broke down…

After four wonderful days relaxing in Ramena, it’s time to continue. At 5.35 am we are in the car, we planned to drive.a big distance and therefore leave at dawn. The first seven hours are going extremely well! But unfortunately, just after noon, we get car trouble, the clutch disk is broken. Due to the bad roads and the distances we cover, this is not surprising, car trouble is part of travelling through this country. We are therefore prepared to experience this one or more times.

After much and nice contact with Peter from Roadtrip Africa, we arrange that two Malagasy boys who happen to pass by will pull our car with their car. Very slowly, while the rope breaks every time, we move forward. The boys are great and remain optimistic and helpful kilometre by kilometre, rope by rope. Six hours later we have covered 30 kilometres and we arrive in Ambanja where we can park the car at a gas station. Our Malagasy heroes are so sweet and even drop us off at the port of Ankify, our planned destination! Tired we have a beer together, cheering on to the good outcome and their help!Madagascar Roadtrip Africa

Nosy Be

Still a bit tired after this adventure we wake up the next morning. We take a speedboat to the beautiful island of Nosy Be where we are warmly welcomed in Villa Sakina. The next three days we immerse ourselves completely in luxury in this beautiful villa and we are spoiled by the chef with delicious meals! Within a few hours, we have already forgotten the tiredness and are as relaxed as can be!

When Peter also lets us know that the next day a new car will be delivered on the island, our day is completely made. What a great first two weeks! On to the next six weeks!Villa Sakina


Where did we sleep these two weeks in Madagascar:

  • Ivato: La Villa Colombe Bed and Breakfast. Really recommended! € 19.50 per night.
  • Maevatanana: Hotel Chouchou. Very basic, just fine. € 17 per night (only bookable via Facebook).
  • Ankarafantsika: Camping at the tourist office. € 1.25 per night.
  • Antsohihy: Hotel Sofia Belle Vue, with swimming pool, further outdated. € 19.50 per night (only bookable via Facebook).
  • Ambanja: Hotel Palma Nova. Good food, nice rooms, good WiFi. € 14.50 per night.
  • Ankarana: Camping in the parking lot at the entrance. € 1.25 per night. Hotel Le Relais de l’Ankarana. Nice rooms, nice location. € 28.5 per night.
  • Ramena: Hotel Lakana Ramena, wonderful hotel with swimming pool and near the sea. € 25 per night.
  • Ankify: Les Jardins d’Ankify, beautiful, somewhat dilapidated bungalows. € 32 per night including breakfast.
  • Nosy Be: Villa Sakina, so beautiful, so luxurious, really ultimate enjoyment! € 132 per night for six people, including private chef and housekeeper.

Villa Sakina

Statistics for these first two weeks:

↠ The Number of hours in the car: +/- 40 hours
↠ The Number of km driven: 1550 km
↠ The Number of nights spent camping: three
↠ The Number of hikes: five
↠ The number of times homesick: 0 times!
↠ Average expenses per day: 72 eurosRamana beach

Surprising things in Madagascar:

No supermarkets: Except in the large cities such as Antananarivo, Diego-Suarez and Nosy Be you cannot find supermarkets anywhere. We have a fridge in our jeep and often cook ourselves. In small villages, we buy fresh fruit and vegetables and in the big cities we stock up a lot of water, yoghurt and basic ingredients.

Suicide cows: the cows in Madagascar (also called Zebu) have tried several times to end their lives by unexpectedly running for the car! Fortunately, the brakes are working well …

No tourists: there are hardly any tourists in Madagascar! Unbelievable, such a large and beautiful country, but the tourists we encounter can be counted on one hand. Secretly we don’t mind that at all, this makes it even more special to travel here!Ramena Beach

Discoveries:

Podcasts: We are in the car for hours and a bug discovery is listening to Podcasts. Yes, I know, everyone else ánd their grandma allready knew podcasts, but seriously, why have I never listened to a podcast before ?! Our favourites are those of NRC Vandaag (Dutch), Myths and Legends and Freakonomics.

French: Another thing we do while driving: learning French. Madagascar is a French-speaking country and we try to speak as much French as possible here. With the Podcast ‘News in Slow French’, we also get some basic knowledge of grammar.

Baguette with avocado: Almost every day we have lunch with fresh baguettes and an avocado. We buy avocados at the market that is present in every village, they cost only € 0.25 and are twice as large as those in the Netherlands! Four baguettes of € 0.50 cents added et voilà, a super cheap and tasty lunch!

Highlight:

Well… these two weeks were filled highlights … however, the biggest highlight is the people here in Madagascar! When we got car trouble in the middle of nowhere, two Malagasy men were busy with us for over nine !! hours to help get the car into town! Nowhere in the world have we met people who are so helpful, hospitable and warm! Other Malagasy are also always willing to help you and to chat with you!

Lowlight:

We lost our drone (Sparky is his nickname) during filming: suddenly Ries lost every signal, every control, and instead of the drone flying to the starting point (what he should do), he just disappeared. Fortunately, we found him after an hour of searching!


Travel Blogs MadagascarClick here for all my blogs about Madagascar.


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