Mahajunga to Antananarivo
26.06.2007 - 01.07.2007 28 °C
Excuse me if this is all a load of nonsense, I am trying to type through eyelids held open with toothpicks. I would use matches but they make them of wax out here and they keep melting and I prefer to pluck my eyebrows!
Think I left you in Mahajanga.
Thursday I duly got up at 0500, taxi to taxi brousse station to get the 0700 to Ampijoroa. It was quite prompt in leaving at 0900. Definately chose the right company, was in best seats in both busses and dropped off neatly outside Parc National d'Ankarafantsika. Its taken me three days to remember how to say that! This is the place where they are doing the tortoise breeding program of the ones that that have to have a fight before they get horny (its a long story!) plus the Coquerels Sifakas ( thats the fluffy white ones that 'dance'). Rooms were horrendously expensive, same price as my hotel in Mahajanga but no tv, no en suite, not even any bloody windows! But clean and comfy and had electricity more often than not. Unfortunately light in the loos was only in the one that did not flush and bugger me came complete with frog!
Booked all my guided tours (cant be trusted to go alone, may get ravaged by a rabid tortoise!), told him, just want to see Sifakas and ok may as well see the scary crocodiles and the canyon thingy whatever that is but no, I have seen a zillion Baobabs.
Spent the afternoon in a flat bottomed boat thing going round the lake which I have to admit was outstandingly beautiful. Signs all round warning that crocodiles bite (really?). But all around the lake are people fishing, doing their washing, having a picnic etc. Eventually we see a croc on the bank. It gave a look of 'Oh shit, a human' and scurried into the water. We saw it twice more but the guide was adamant we saw three. Ok.
Returning to the park campsite my 'English' speaking guide pointed out that the lemurs were in the tree. So wh have I just paid out a fortune to go see them tomorow???
It was quite incredible though and I was a pig in poo. Four Coquerels Sifakas bounding around the trees,one had a tiny baby. I took tons of photos then lady at reception told me that later they will descend to go accross the road. I watched them for two hours, they were incredible. A crowd of children gathered but the lemurs were not phased and proceded to 'dance' accross the road. I ran off tons of shots and couldnt resist a 'wooohooo!' when I reviewed them. Next thing I know I am surounded by children looking at my photos. We all then went to take photos of the rare Mongoose Lemur in a nearby tree, then a group photo of the kids, and a bird 'take photo, take photo!' Eventually their teacher relieved me of them.
Then I did a night walk, saw Sportive and mouse lemurs with their big red eyes. I love the Sportive, they always have a look of utter bemusement.
Next day, trundled around the forest, no Sifakas cos they are all in the bloody camp grounds! But we did see other stuff so enjoyed it, then it was traipse (is that right,) through the savannah, hot and bored. As usual my guides english consisted of words I have never heard of and we spent the day having conversations ending in 'oh never mind'.
The earth was getting redder and redder then all of a sudden it just opened up into this oh my golly gosh canyon. I was speechless, gobsmacked. This place had no mention in Lonely Planet and at the reception it was just, a canyon!
Some bloody canyon! Amazing rock formations in hues of red, pink, peach and yellow. We decended down into the canyon and you could see these beautiful colours in layers swirled into the rock. Ok, you know those tacky bottles of different coloured sand you get in the Isle of White, well, I was inside one of those bottles. There were fairy chimneys, sheer cliffs, dry gullies. I think I wore out the word 'Wow', a new one for my guide. 'This is canyon, it is wow'.
Unfortunately he knew zilch about how it occured, what the different colours were or anthing, so I contented myself with taking psychadelic photos. I do know though that most of it was sand, cos everytime I went ' whats this,', it came away in my hand. Oooops!
I was wearing a beige shirt, when I returned it was bright orange and muddy mixed with my sweat. And I had another of those big cheezy grins on my face.
Dont know if I have mentioned before, but rather than getting fit with all this walking, have developed dodgy hips. 3 hours is OK, 4 and its ok, think I need to sit now, 5 and I wonder whether I shall ever walk again. Bang goes my idea of joining an expedition!
This was 5 hours. I spent the afternoon just watching the birds over the lake, then back to watch the Sifakas, then over there to watch the Mongoose Lemurs, then oh, the brown lemurs are awake. They are funny, spent the evening trying to terrorise an bunch of zebu ( the camel with horns and short legs). Subsequently, stiff neck!
Next day, I conceded to another walk to try and find a leaf tailed gecko. An hour later a delighted guide shows me a rhinocerous chameleon. Ok, I can see the connection and I have never seen one of these before so, yes, well done! Another hour later I think he twigged and informed me that you dont often see leaf tails in the dry season. But he did find the most incredible catterpillar cleverly disguised as a tree. And a parrot.
My bus is supposed to collect me from the park at 1930. I sit outside at 1700 in case it is early as yesterday all the Tana buses went past at 1700. It came at 2000. It was very dark out there. My seat was the six inch space over the rear wheel arch behind the girl whos seat back was not fixed and liked to fidget, and next to the young boy who wanted to sleep horizontally. We arrived at Tana (Antananarivo for short) at 0500. Tired, hungry and bruised. Hoped that the hotel would let me in at that time, but my little oasis did not fail me and after a hot shower I was soon stuffing my face with pancakes and copious amounts of coffee. Desperately trying not to sleep as I will be up all night if I do. Only thing open in town is the Patiserrie and the supermarket. I have wine, chocolate splodge and french tv.