Saturday, August 19, 2017

Madagasikara - Day 05


Woke up around 5:30 or so, because we wanted to leave by 7:00. As the day dawned, I took pictures of the rising sun--zoomed in to check if I could see nostril hair... I mean solar flares. :P

The barrenness of the sand and the dead twigs lying around made it look like some alien landscape.

The guide and the boatmen got to prepping for day, while we wandered about looking for places to hide and do our erm... business. Apart from that nasty necessity, though, the misty morning was quite thrilling after the full-moon night.

In a bit, we all had breakfast.

Then we had some time to while away while the tents dried out. There were dewdrops from the mist that settled on the tents through the chilly night.

So I went click-happy with our neighbors. The hut was about a mile away, the shrubs were all around, and the cautiously curious dog was furiously wagging her tail in her excitement at meeting us, but refused to come too close.

Spotted these beauties too.

Then, on the last leg of the safari, which lasted only about an hour and a half, we saw these guys. The croc was about 12ft long, and was sunbathing with its jaws open. I guess it was too lazy to make breakfast and he wanted some in bed. :P

Our boat ride ended at a village, which we had to pass through in a bullock (zebu, as they are called locally) cart. Twenty minutes of pain in the behind. I wasn't too happy for the bulls, either, poor fellows! Part of the road was submerged under water, even though it was farmland. Our cart owner brought his little son along. The path was so uneven that a few times during the ride,the plank (gosh, I don't know what it's called!) would slip off and a bull would stop or drag us in a different direction. A little 9-10YO lad ran alongside our cart for part of the way, and helped put it back in place! The things that rural kids do! City folk would shudder at the very thought of how dangerous something like this could be for their kids.

The next mode of transport was a ferry across the Tsiribihina river, further northwest. It took us about half an hour, and our SUV was loaded onto a ferry made of two little boats held together with planks. There were several such makeshift ferries, that would take upto 6 SUVs on them! How they managed to get the vehicles on and off the boats itself was amazing... the coordination, the precision, the trust!

Next stop: lunch at the Karibo restaurant and lodge. It was lovely place with clean, unique place settings and knife holders and check holders and whatnot. Even the simplest meals were served with such flair... the little decorations on the plate are made with honey!

This how the place looked from the outside. Apart from the dining area, it also had a karaoke room. The painting on one of the inner walls was a glimpse of the main tourist attraction of that place--the Tsingy. The little was hiding near a bamboo close to where the toilets were and he was so still that Pawan completely missed him after looking at him directly for a few seconds. I only noticed him accidentally. Or maybe my brain is better wired to spot non-human creatures. :P

We moved on for a few more kilometers are lunch by road until we had to cross the Manambolo river by ferry. This time we were in a smaller ferry and the ride lasted only about 10 mins or so.

Finally, at dusk, we reached our hotel, L'Orchidé Du Bemaraha, which was delightful too, but my heart still pines for Chambre Du Voyageur, the one in Antsirabe. BTW, we were told that this one and its neighbor, L'Olympe Du Bemaraha, are both owned by Indians.

The sight of a proper toilet was SO welcome after 3 days out in the open!

We had a HOT shower (the last time was a cold one right under the waterfall 2 days ago!) and proceeded to check out the place for a few minutes until our dinner was served. There was bougainvillea adorning the railings of the straicase that led down from our rooms to the restaurant. That bright green gecko with the red polka dots was so fun to watch--and I'm one who can't stand lizards! And, finally, the meal was good too.

Bathed and fed and in a warm bed, we drifted off to sleep quickly, super excited about tomorrow.

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