My Madagascar

“…and it was then when I realized they weren’t scared of him, but of me. Scared of me for being ‘white’. And that hurt me.

Hello People!

So I had the opportunity of doing a presentation about my trip to Madagascar via an Instagram Live/Zoom Party with @LatinoWorldTravelers. It was my first time presenting about any of my trips in front of cameras, but I did it and I hope it can serve to educate and inspire others to visit this country.

Madagascar was for a me a “dream destination”. And I say dream, because literally many times I woke up from a nap asking myself if I was dreaming or if it was really happening. My trip there wasn’t that long, but it was enough to captivate me, and left me with the desire of going back sometime in the future.

I’m going to write an outline with all the information I presented. There should be a video of it coming soon.

History and Facts:

  • Madagascar is the 4th largest island in the world, located on the southeast side of Africa, just across Mozambique, in the Indian Ocean.
  • Madagascar first inhabitants arrived to the island just about 1300 years ago. It is believed that the first humans to arrive navigated in canoes from Southeast Asia. Later, other immigrants joined, coming from Africa, India, Arabia, and Europe.
  • Madagascar people also suffered from slavery during some period. There are even descendants of malagasy slaves in Peru.
  • Madagascar was a colony of France from 1890 to 1960, year when they declared their independence.
  • 90% of Madagascar species are only found there and nowhere else in the world. One example of it are lemurs.
  • There are currently about 25 Million inhabitants.

What is there to do:

  • National Parks – There are many National Parks where it is possible to do hiking, either between milestone stones or in the middle of a rainforest. There you can also find many species, including, of course, the lemurs. Some of the most popular parks are: Tsingy de Berahama; Ranomafana, Isalo, Avenue of Baobabs, Amber Mountain, and Masoala.
  • Beaches and Small Islands – Nothing to envy Thailand or Philippines. Madagascar has also plenty of white sand beaches with clear waters. Some of the most popular are: Nosy Be; Nosy Komba; Ile Sainte-Marie; Manafiafy; and Anjajavy.
  • Swim with Whale Sharks – At Nosy Be, from September to December.
  • Scuba Diving
  • Whale Watching – Between July and September.
  • Countryside road trips – What I enjoyed the most about my trip. Beautiful landscapes while learning about how people live in the small towns and villages.

How to Get There:

  • Some of the airlines that have direct flights to Madagascar are: Turkish Airline, Air France, Air Mauritius, Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airline, and South Africa Airway.
  • A plane ticket to Antananarivo cost an average of $1200 from U.S.; $800 from Europe; and $500 from South Africa. I’ve seen good deals, like $541 from London.
  • To fly inside the island, from one city to another, there are only 2 airlines, Air Madagascar & Tsaradia. Unfortunately, I read that these two are not that reliable, since they cancel or delays flights with frequency. Plane tickets are not cheap either.

Accommodations:

  • Hotels – Good Hotels cost an average of $25 to $70 a night. In Morondova I stayed in Hotel Select and I totally recommend it. Find Hotels on booking.com.
  • Hostels – I didn’t stay in a hostel, so can’t talk too much about it, but you can find hostels on hostelworld.com.
  • Resorts – There are also luxury resorts, specially on the coast or islands. Still, I believe those are cheap comparing with other countries. I didn’t see any resorts for more than $200 a night.
  • Couchsurfing – Not so common in Madagascar, but I found my driver through this platform.

Transportation:

  • The most common thing to do is to hire a private local driver with a private car. They charge an average of $50 per day, plus gas. A driver can also serve as tour guide and translator.
  • You can rent a car, but most car rentals ask for you to hire a local driver, mostly because of the bad conditions of the roads. Again, average cost is $50 per day, plus gas, and in this case, the cost of renting the car.
  • In a city like Antananarivo, you can find local buses and taxis.
  • As a side note, during my road trip I saw hundreds of locals (including kids) walking really long distances to get to their closest town or city. I’m talking about miles.

Food:

  • White rice is in almost every main dish.
  • Pasta (vegetable spaghetti like) is found everywhere, even in small food stands.
  • On the meat side, cebu is really common. They also eat chicken, beef, and pork. You can find them in skewers at the food stands. I also had a piece of chicken with coconut sauce and white rice.
  • You can find fritters, the most common being the ones with green leafs.
  • I saw a lot of bananas in the roofs, getting dried. They eat them as a candy.
  • A lot of fruits found everywhere.

My Experience:

I opted for contacting a “couchsurfer” (if you don’t know about couchsurfing, check my IGTV) who had a car and could take me where I wanted to go. I met Tiary, a local guy, on the platform. We agreed on how much money I was going to pay him to be with me for those 5 days, and take me where I wanted to go…a place that was 12 hours away from the airport.

His family hosted me in the city of Antsirabe, which is half way to Morondava. I had my private room on the second floor. We also went to eat at her aunt’s house in Morondava, about 10 minutes form the Avenue of Baobabs. He showed me his daily life; he took me to eat where he normally eats; and he took me to a bar where he normally goes with his cousin and friends. Basically, as I try to do in every of my trips, I got to see Madagascar thru a local’s eyes.

We stopped in many villages where my host would be able to talk to the people there and translate for me. He explained to me about the different villages’ traditions.

One anecdote that stands out is when my driver stopped to pee by the road, and some kids started looking at us from a farm. All of sudden they started stepping away from us, and I asked my driver why they were of scared of him. “No, they are not scared of me, but of you”, was his response….and it was then when I realized they weren’t scared of him, but of me. Scared of me for being ‘white’. And that hurt me. People in some of these villages still believe that the stories of white people coming to get slaves are still real.

To take in consideration:

  • To buy a visa on arrival you need to have US Dollars. The cost of it is about $30. I didn’t have US Dollars on me and I had to go through a random process in order to exchange money.
  • Some places take a considerable amount of time to reach. Plan your itenirary accordingly, specially if you are there for a limited time.

Madagascar is truly a unique destination. It’s that kind of place where I would want to take my children to visit…not only because of the beautiful landscapes, but because seeing how people live in countries like Madagascar is something that would impact them for the rest of their lives.

And you? When are you going to Madagascar?

Any particular question you have, feel free to email me at travelcarlitosway@gmail.com

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