Blissful Madagascar Magic Substituted By Mainland Madness
Bathroom: bizarre or bliss?
The transition from Nosy Komba to Nosy Bé was not so different. Nosy Bé is far bigger and was busier, buzzing with people, vehicles and goats.
Our hotel room was right on the beach of Ambatoloaka. From the outside it looked luxuriously tropical and had a beautiful view of the bay with yachts moored across the calm water. We spotted Bossi and gazed at it with nostalgia. We’d only left her and her crew the previous morning, but it felt far longer. She was moored where we first went on board.
Our accommodation on Ambatoloake was very basic with only cold water. We had however gone up a notch in class and style from Nosy Komba – we had a shower and toilet, therefore didn’t need a tin and bucket. The toilet had no seat though. The cold water wasn't too bad, considering it was hot and humid outside. Both the bathroom and bedroom needed a lick of paint and some maintenance, but we survived, as it was only for one night. The beach made up for it though, and the water was so calm, compared to when we embarked on our first night.
Discovering intoxicating ylang-ylang on Nosy Bé
Time to explore Nosy Bé. We negotiated with a taxi driver to drive us around the island. We went to the ylang-ylang factory where they extract the perfume essence. Around the island the ylang-ylang trees are gnarled, bent and pruned for easy access to pick the flowers. The balmy fragrance drifted and swirled around us. I can understand why it is the basis of most perfumes. There were also plantations of coffee, cocoa, vanilla and sugar cane as well. Numerous heady fragrances to lure the senses.
We then went to a viewing spot where we could see some of the eleven volcanic lakes on the island. We looked down towards more islands and bays. What a spectacular view! We could do a full 360 degrees. It was a moment of reflection, looking at the areas we’d sailed around for the previous ten days. We marvelled at the adventure we’d had thus far.
After driving around, taking in all the sights of Nosy Bé we stopped at a beach where they displayed some more curious and embroidered table cloths. We browsed around for a short while till we decided it was too hot and it was time to cool off in the lukewarm waters of Madagascar. This would be the last swim of our trip. The next day we were flying to Antananarivo.
Mainland madness overwhelming our senses on contrasting Tana
We dragged our feet when we boarded the plane at Nosy Bé. We were tempted to prolong our stay, but of course couldn’t. Flying into Antananarivo, we saw the rice paddies again.
After much solitude on the yacht and the deserted islands it was a shock to be around so many people after such seclusion! Even Nosy Bé wasn’t so busy. It was our first encounter with heavy traffic again. Nosy Bé had limited traffic and vehicles and the only means of transport around the other islands was your own two feet as they were so small. We visited the market and saw some unusual curios, but we had done most of our shopping on Nosy Komba & Nosy Bé and it was far cheaper there, anyway.
It’s ok, Tana is far easier than Antananarivo as it’s often called or do as the French and call it Tananarive. Take your pick.
We saw the Queen's palace on top of the hill, the Baroque influence clearly visible as in many other buildings in Antananarivo, a very built up city surrounded by hills. After having done sufficient sightseeing we selected solitude at the Tsimbazaza Zoo. It is a zoo and a botanical garden, the only zoo of its kind in Madagascar, complete with a little museum. This gave us a little more insight into Madagascar’s wildlife and people. We don’t have many photos of Tana or any of the zoo and I am sure it is because we ran out of film for the camera – yes, this was before the digital era!
We found it was far cooler in Antananarivo and not as tropical as the coastal regions and night time temperatures were quite cold. Quite a change from living in swimming costumes and sarongs from the previous two weeks.
Madagascar magic triumphed.
Our trip and holiday had come to an end. This had truly been another trip of a lifetime, made more special by the fact that the four of us as a family could enjoy it together. We knew it would be an adventure and it certainly was. No luxurious hotel rooms. The time on board Bossi was magical and we couldn’t complain about the comfort of the cabin. It was great to be able to move around from island to island like we did. That way we could see far more than if we’d stayed in one spot. Beautiful sunsets soothed our souls and
and all our senses were stimulated to the max.
No matter where else we have been or will go, this trip is tucked away in a snug nook of our hearts, with truly special and fond memories.
Obviously much has changed since 1998 but I’m sure there is still a unique essence to Madagascar. What are your thoughts? Would you like to explore Madagascar after reading this?
If you've been fortunate to visit Madagascar, I'd love to hear all about it.
Of course there is so much more to see in Madagascar. I’m disappointed I couldn’t see the Avenue of the Baobabs but even these days it is difficult to get around the red island, although not quite as much as in the 1990’s.