South Africa to Madagascar

Jeffrey Larson

We’re now in Madagascar, and this posting is coming straight from Antananarivo, the capital of this interesting country.
Since we last posted… Internet has been hard to come by. Between lack of availability and it being the national holidays this last couple (many things are closed), just haven’t made it. We have so many photos to share with you guys, but the connection isn’t great so you’ll have to wait.

Hmm, now where to start. We had a day of diving in Cape Town before we left South Africa. It was great, pretty much a full day, with 2 dives in False Bay, 2 different locations. There was lots of active coral, anenomes, sea urchins and even a seal. We swam through kelp and a couple caves (with light at the end), took some cool under water photos too! We finished the day with a delicious seafood platter at the waterfront in Cape Town, sitting outside at the Hildebrand restaurant while the sunset sipping local cabernet sauvignon. We called that our anniversary and birthday dinner… it was awesome.

The next day, don’t worry you divers, it was a full 18 hour interval after our multiple dives, we had 3 flights. Cape Town to Joburg (SA), Joburg to Fort Dauphin (Mad), and Fort Dauphin to Antananarivo. We weren’t expecting to have to fly through Fort Dauphin to get to Antananarivo (Tana), but that’s the way it went. We had to clear Madagascar Customs there and get our Tourist Visa’s. It was all fine, we were glad we didn’t have 3 surf boards to carry through customs as some of the South Africans on the same flight did. We stayed in Ivato that night, which is the small town where the Tana Airport is. We paid way too much for a taxi that was falling apart, to get to our hotel which was only a few meters away, well, you have to learn somehow. Another thing we learn that day too, was to either try and buy Malagasy currency in SA, the ariary, or bring a lot more smaller euros when arriving here.

The next day we were to fly to Toliara at 11:45am so we made it to the airport an hour before. Well the flight had been changed now, to 2:25pm, argh! Anyway, we hung out in the airport as we couldn’t find anywhere to store our luggage in lockers, and we weren’t allowed to check in earlier. At 1:25pm we checked in no problem, passed through security. We waited a little bit extra to get on the plane but not too bad. We had read that Air Madagascar (aka Air Mad) was infamous for being late, slow, problems, cancellations, etc. Anyway, after taxiing around the tarmac and actually accelerating for take off we stopped and were told that there was “technical problem” and we needed to deboard. While we were sitting back at the gate, Sarah looked out the window, saw a bunch of people standing around our jet’s dismantled engine and laughing. Sarah and I were trying to figure out if we were ever going to get to go to Toliara, so we sketched out alternate potential plans. We re-boarded the plane a couple hours later and this time our fingers were crossed. We taxied, accelerated, and took off! Awesome, finally we get to go where we’re going, only 6+ hours after we had originally expected. That’s not the end of that story. About 5-10 minutes into the flight we circled back and we were told that due to more “technical problems” we were going back to land. This time we got off and they gave us indication that they were bringing in another plane. The next time we boarded, this is the 3rd try, we took off and actually arrived in Toliara! Yeah! Only 9 hours after we expected… alright Air Mad! Anyway, we stayed in the most expensive hotel we knew of in Toliara, which was about $60 CDN. We needed a comfort.

The next day (June 23) we took a taxi on a sand road North, to Ifaty, which is a string of 3 fishing villages on the coast. The road was very poor-giant potholes strung together by mounds of sand and who knows how old chunks of asphalt- to be precise, it took more than 1 hour to go the 25 or 30 kms. The hotel we checked into in Ifaty, well it was in the village of Mangily, was called Hotel Vovotelo. It was awesome, we had a little bamboo bungaloo (read shack, nice though) right on the white sand beach in front of the torquoise water of the Ifaty lagoon, Atlantic Ocean. Sarah woke up the next day with a terrible head cold/clogged nose so could not dive, with the shop next door, Le Grand Bleu. I (Jeff) went without his lovely wife, she was in bed resting. The dive was a sweet 26 metres with just the owner of this dive company, Richard, originally from South Africa. I saw some sweet line fish, a scorpion fish, some cool coral, and a giant potato bass which was huge (40 kg!). We hung out on the beautiful beach for the rest of the day, before taking another bumpy taxi ride back to Toliara. Oh, so this taxi ride was amazing. We got to see how most of the people in this province live… in tiny villages of huts made of grass and branches from bush. Fires, mostly naked children running around, chickens, mangy dogs, zebu (Madagascar’s Cow) pulled carts, many women carry more than I think I could lift up on top of their heads, like a different planet.

So much more to say, so watch for the next part posted here.


5 Responses to “South Africa to Madagascar”

  • Brantone Says:

    Wow! Sounds awesome!! Can’t wait to see the photos.
    Hope you get better Sarah!
    hmm … I wonder if Air Mad is owned by Horizon Air, sounds kind of similar for bad experiences ;-)

  • Dad Says:

    Sounds like an amazing journey – can’t wait to see your pictures – your description of Madagascar is not at all like I expected. Please don’t fly on too many of those kind of planes – we want you back alive. Enjoy!

  • L&V Says:

    Jeff and Sarah! We’re so glad to hear from you and to read up on the amazing things you’ve been doing!! We looking forward to seeing the pics :) Take care!

  • Oliver Says:

    For those of you dying to see pictures of those places (Antananarivo, Toliara, and Ifaty), you might want to look here:

    Madagascar Pictures

    I also put some South Africa pictures (incl. Capetown) here: South Africa Pictures.

  • Steven Says:

    Hey J&S. Hope things got sorted out for your departure too with Air Mad.

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