Thursday, August 17, 2017

Madagasikara - Day 03


Started with a wonderful breakfast in the airy, sunlit restaurant at around 9:30, and then headed off to the Tsiribihina river in our SUV. I made an attempt to drive for about 10 mins - yay! Didn't do more, because it would have slowed us down with me being careful and learning my way around the gears and pedals of the vehicle. The river entry was about 20 kms from the hotel. Our boatmen and their families rode with us into the village on the banks.

While waited for the boat to be brought, a bunch of kids surrounded us and demanded (very sweetly) that we give them something. We gave away a few biscuits and some empty bottles, which they use to carry water to school sometimes. To get into the boats in the middle of winter season, we have to climb down the bank and walk about a hundred feet. River safaris are not allowed during the monsoons, of course--the rivers turn into muddy monsters and the crocs are annoyed at the lack of visibility.

We saw a variety of boats cross us all through the morning. Other tourists, locals going up/down the river to different vilages/towns, fishermen going about their jobs, and some people ferrying grain via the river!

Our boatmen rowed for about an hour and a half before we took a break. We were at the front of the boat, our guide in the center, the boatmen rowing at the back, and all of our luggage interspersed.


We also saw people going about their chores, birds doing what they do, and reptiles chilling--until they saw us. One of the first sights as we began the safari was a baby croc (almost 2 mtrs, about 1-2 years of age) sunbathing at the edge of the water, not 20 feet away from us!

Our boatmen and guide found us a nice spot in the shade of tree, settled us in on a mat, and brought simple, but hot and yummy food to gorge on. They were heroes and angels all at once.

Then onwards, it got sunnier and hotter, but our boatmen went on for another four hours or so, while we could only hold on to our umbrellas! (Psst... I forgot to buy sunscreen even though it was second on our shopping list... the first being mosquito repellent cream.)

Post lunch we came across stunning landscapes, amazing shapes and colors of rock that formed the banks...

The trees were fantastic too. The sun was beating down on us, but the water made us (okay only me) feel calm and serene.

As the evening drew nearer, the colors seemed even deeper, enticing.

The river, in the middle of the winter was about a 100 mtrs wide. Imagine how swollen and angry it gets during the monsoons! I splashed about a it, because the water was so close... at the center, the edge of the boat was only about 4 inches above the water!
By the time we reached our destination for the night, the boatmen were tired and we all hurriedly unloaded our stuff let them get on to their next chores. The guide took us up the campsite to the base of a waterfall, which felt like a magical place. The water was crystal clear, and not too cold, so I promptly jumped in. The husband did too, but I was 'in the zone' and so didn't click any pictures of his--my poor, sweet fella. It was a moonlit night and I could capture this...

Soon after we got back from the waterfall and dried ourselves and changed, the guide got us dinner--another lovely meal. We went to sleep at about 10:00 or so, after chitchatting in the moonlight for a bit, in our tent, on a sandy slope. If it weren't for the mosquitoes, we'd have slept under the stars!

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