Day 25 Bush House
The East Coast of Madagascar is incredibly lush and tropical compared to the barren baobab filled West Coast. It is in this more lush and tropical environment surrounding the Bush House that many of Madagascar's unique Lemurs can be discovered up close.
We set off on a short 10-minute boat ride to explore the Palmarium reserve or ''Ankanin’ny Nofy'' in Malagasy which translates to ''nest of dreams''. Palmarium is a small 50-hectare reserve on the banks of the Pangalanes du Canal of Madagascar that has seven species of Lemur.
We were fortunate enough to spot 6 out of 7: the Macaco Macaco, Collared Black and White lemur, Crowned lemur, Red Bellied lemur and Indri Indri. Not bad for a morning's work!
A Pair of Crowned Lemurs Collared Black and White Lemur Macaco Macaco Lemur
The Palmarium is also home to the Carnivorous Pitcher Plant which is always a treat to see in the wild.
The Carnivorous Pitcher Plant
Before dinner, we ventured out to see the endangered Nocturnal Aye-Aye Lemur. Often described as the world's creepiest animal with rodent-like teeth and extend middle finger.
There is much negative Malagasy folk-lore surrounding the Aye - Aye and they of often were killed when found by villagers. A lot of work is going into conservation education to protect these fascinating creatures.
Aye- Aye Lemur
Our last dinner as a group was filled with many laughs and recounting the great time we had on this 25 day adventure through one of the most unique countries on earth. From navigating the backgrounds of Tana in CV2's, the magnificent Avenue of the Baobabs, ferry crossings, the limestone landscape of Tsingy, the turquoise waters of the Indian ocean, the turning of the bones ceremony, getting stuck in the sand and Lemurs galore, we really made so many memories in Magical Madagascar.
Day 26 Extension to Ile Sainte Marie
Bush House to Mahambo
Getting to Sainte Marie was quite an adventure. It took us just over a day from Bush House with an overnight stop in Mahambo on the Madagascan mainland. We travelled along Pangalanes du Canal on a small boat which was very scenic and tranquil passing small fishing villages and fishermen going about their daily lives.
Daily life on the tranquil Pangalanes du Canal
This 4-hour boat trip took us to Tamatave where a pre-booked driver transferred us by mini-bus to our guest house La Pirogue in Mahambo which is set right against the ocean with very scenic gardens.
Scenic gardens of La Pirogue
Day 27 Extension to Ile Sainte Marie
Mahambo to Ile Sainte Marie
The next day we travelled to Ile Sainte Marie via Catamaran that acted as the local supply ferry and carried about 100 people. Our start was a little slower than expected while we watched everything and the kitchen sink get loaded via a smaller tender boat. You name it; it was packed, vegetables, corrugated iron, even a motor scooter!
Everything and the Kitchen Sink being loaded
Once we were on our way our journey on the ocean was very smooth with seating up on the top deck to enjoy some fresh air. Mike and I found a spot downstairs out of the sun in between a loaded motor scooter and the life vests - which made for a very comfortable spot!
Tender boat transfer to the Catamaran Open air seats Mike counting the life vests
Arriving in Saint Marie, the offloading was a lot faster, and we soon arrived at our accommodation Masoandro Lodge.
We have been to very few places where the reality is better than the images on the website, and Masoandro Lodge is one of those! We had our very own palm lined private beach, lovely pool overlooking the ocean and charming but rustic bungalows ... and did I mention they made some fantastic cocktails. We spent the rest of the afternoon catching up on some much need R&R.
Amazing accommodation at Ile Sainte Marie
Day 28 Extension to Ile Sainte Marie
Ile Sainte Marie Masoandro Lodge
We had hoped to spend two full days on Ile Sainte Marie, but Air Madagascar had other plans and cancelled our departing flight. Our first thoughts were that we might just extend for forever and never leave this enchanting paradise, but we had to move our flight out one day earlier. This meant that today is going to be our only full day on Ile Sainte Marie.
The island is famous for being a pirate hideout in the 1800's and at one stage was home to over 1,000 colonial pirates. On the Island is a pirate cemetery which our very informative local guide took us around.
Old pirate graves of Ile Sainte Marie
Aux Natte is a small island at the southern tip of Ile Sainte Marie, its circumference is 8 to 9 km, and it is that postcard picture or a perfect tropical island. We ventured out on a small pirogue and then walked at low tide to the Analantsara hotel which was recommended for a great lunch.
Picture perfect beach of Aux Natte
When we said there were 8 of us for lunch, the reception staff looked worried, and it seemed like lunch was going to be very slow ''moro moro''. Two Bamboo lemurs arrived and changed the atmosphere by amusing us coming closer and closer they gradually ended up on our chairs. The wait for the food seemed to go by much faster, once the food arrived the rather ''cheeky'' Bamboo Lemurs tried to assist us in finishing lunch.
Bamboo Lemurs ... so much for only eating Bamboo
On our walk back to the priouge the tide had risen over the long lunch and was up to belly button height for some of us shorties in the group. We spent the rest of the day enjoying the tropical beaches and well-priced cocktails in the evening at Masoandro Lodge.
Enjoying a round of sunset cocktails
Day 29 Extension to Ile Sainte Marie
Ile Sainte Marie to Tana
We couldn't believe that our world first Madagascan tag-along tour was coming to an end.
Our 8 AM flight meant that we had a very early start and left the tropical paradise of Masandro for the small and quaint airport of Ile Sainte Marie. It was a short 50 min flight back to the bustling city centre of Tana. We had a chance to pick up a few curious at the famous Marché de la Digue before we started the long trip back home to Australia!
Special thanks to all our incredible guests for making this adventure possible and on the ground our partners in Madagascar for giving us such a great experience. Until our 2018 Adventure!
Sunset from Ile Sainte Marie