In this latest series, I will be going through all the countries I’ve travelled to on my mission to visit every single country in the world. In this article, we will be covering country #77: Madagascar. If you haven’t gotten a chance already, read this story first to find out why I’m trying to visit all 193 UN-recognized countries.
Karen and I always talk about bucket list travel destinations. Back in 2018, when we were deciding where we would be travelling that year, we decided to go with Madagascar. It was going to be my first trip after returning home from my 380 days of travel. After doing some research, I found a company called Mada Safari tour who we ended up booking our tour of the country.
VIDEO – Country #77: Madagascar
Blog post on Madagascar
- Escape From Madagascar – While Having Food Poisoning
- Kirindy Reserve – My Experience Doing A Lemur and Wildlife Safari Here
- Journey To The Iconic Avenue Of The Baobabs in Madagascar
- Playing with Lemurs At The Vakona Forest Reserve in Madagascar
- Andasibe National Park – Doing A Lemur Safari In Analamazotra
- Madagascar – The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly
- Complete 7 Days Madagascar Spending Breakdown
Flying from Canada to the USA to Ethiopia to Madagascar
Going to Madagascar was an insanely long journey. We would be flying on four flight segments starting from Vancouver to Las Vegas to Washington DC to Addis Ababa and finally landing in Antananarivo in Madagascar.
The Ethiopian Airlines flight was surprisingly decent but African airports tend to be chaotic when flying on economy class. We decided that for future flights, we’d always use our points to book on business to avoid the insane chaos.
Landing in Antananarivo was not a good experience. Staff members ranging from immigration staff, security, and baggage handlers were all asking me for a bribe upon arrival. I gave them no money; of course.
Antananarivo to Andasibe
After exiting the gate, one of the staff members of Mada Safari tour picked Karen and me up from the airport. My sister Eunice and Sharleen also arrived a day before we did. From there, we met up with our driver, Mr Jojo, and the first thing we did was get some local currency.
Soon, we took a long drive to our first destination which is Andasibe where we would be doing a lemur safari the next morning.
The food in the hotel we stayed at was quite good. Steak seems to be the specialty of this country and we ate them to our heart’s content.
Our accommodation itself was alright, I think it looks better on the outside than the inside.
The next day, we argued with the accommodation staff because they told us breakfast was not included. The tour owner, Jean Jacques had to argue with the hotel staff that what we paid included breakfast. Thankfully that was resolved just before we gathered together to head for the Lemur Safari.
After a short drive, we made it to Analmazoatra where the lemur safari would take place.
Truth be told, I never cared for lemurs. My main goal when travelling in Madagascar is to see the Avenue of the Baobab trees. But, as soon as we started hiking in the forest, we had a lot of fun looking for the lemurs.
Roughly 30 minutes in, we got lucky and spotted the rare ring-tailed lemurs. Even our safari guide was surprised and told us she’s never seen one before in her 20+ working in this field.
In the distance, we can hear the cries of the lemurs. After chasing them down, we finally came across several of them within the forest.
It was a cool experience and I would say, I enjoy wildlife safaris.
Vakona Forest Reserve
Our next destination would top the lemur safari experience. We ended up going to Vakona Forest Reserve which is an island that can be reached by canoes.
As soon as we got off the boat and started walking, a jump of ring-tailed lemurs started jumping on us. At one point, I had three ring-tailed lemurs hitchhiking on my shoulders and head as we walked through the reserve.
A black and white lemur also jumped on my shoulder after the local caretakers used a banana to convince it to jump on me.
And my favourite lemur of them all has got to be the bamboo lemur. Despite being a little bit shy, these guys are the most adorable thing you will ever see.
The next day, we would continue our journey going to Antsirabe. The road trip for this journey was long but rewarding with views of the locals living their life.
Eventually, we reached a restaurant where Karen and my sisters played with some local kids for a short bit before getting a bite to eat.
When my youngest sister went to the washroom, I spoke to the restaurant staff and told them that it was my sister’s birthday. We asked them if they can do something about it. To our surprise, they started playing a birthday song to her loudly. It was such a hilarious moment and completely caught my sister offguard.
And yes, their food there is amazing. I ate the duck and it’s the best duck I’ve ever eaten in my life.
Before long, we arrived at Antsirabe where we would be spending the night.
Avenue of the Baobabs
On the 4th day of our trip, we had an insanely long road trip going all the way to Western Madagascar. This journey took us through several different landscapes ranging from rolling hills to an alien-looking world. I absolutely loved it being a sucker for landscapes.
Just before sunset, we reached the famous Avenue of the Baobabs and enjoyed the view.
They look incredible and looks even better in person than on pictures.
I did get a bit paranoid when I flew my drone over the trees as the local kids started chasing after it. There was a part of me that felt like they might try stealing it after I land it. Thankfully, that never happened.
That evening, we stayed in a city called Morondava. Freakishly enough, there were huge cockroaches in our accommodation, and had to speak with Jean Jacques again. After arguing with the hotel staff, they moved us to a much cleaner room, without giant cockroaches.
The next morning, we were supposed to wake up early and catch the sunrise on the Avenue of the Baobabs. But we were so dead exhausted that by the time we arrived, the sun has already risen.
Despite this, the view was still incredible that early in the morning and I wish I flew my drone at that time instead of the night before.
The last major sightseeing spot for our trip would be the Kirindy Reserve. To reach that place would require us to drive on unpaved roads. It was one of the worst driving conditions I’ve ever seen.
Thanks to Mr. Jojo’s skillful driving, we made it to the Kirindy Reserve without any problems.
As soon as we got off the car, they told us to hurry and see the rare Fossa. These creatures are the only predator of lemurs. Apparently, they are hard to find and we got lucky as we saw them roaming on the park entrance foraging food from humans.
Later on, I heard this is staged and those Fossa actually lives there.
The lemur safari in Kirindy reserve would take us through a dry forest.
Various different animals lived here ranging from lizards, insects, mongoose, and lemurs.
I’d say the lemur safari on the eastern side of Madagascar was better.
Before wrapping up the safari, they showed us a baobab tree with a branch that looks like a man’s penis.
Driving to Antsirabe
Once we were done with the safari, it was now time to go on our longest drive yet. It would be a 10-hour drive going from the Kirindy Reserve back to Antsirabe. We made sure to get some supplies because our driver would be dead exhausted to complete this journey.
While resupplying for food, we actually gave some local kids some candy and they were ecstatic.
The drive back was brutal. Mr. Jojo was driving like a maniac and I actually passed out on the car being freaked out too much. I swear, he almost hit so many people on the way back. He told me it wasn’t safe to get caught on the highway at night because of hijacking so we had to reach the city as soon as possible. It was 8 pm at night by the time we arrived and Mr. Jojo was barely alive at this point.
On the 6th day of our trip, we drove back to Antananarivo and did a short city tour. The traffic in Antananarivo was really bad and I can’t say the city itself was pleasant.
When we reached the viewpoint, several touts tried harassing us for money. If Mr. Jojo wasn’t with us, I’m pretty sure someone would have probably tried to steal our stuff.
After the short city tour, Mr. Jojo and we parted ways. It would be the last time we would see him as the company would be taking us to the airport the next day.
Food poisoning from hell
I made the worst mistake ever that night by eating this weird looking steak with mustard on it. But, I think what really did me in was the cheesecake I ate.
The next morning, I had the worst food poisoning ever. I started vomiting. The drive to the airport was one of the most painful experiences I’ve ever had. Our vehicle didn’t have any air conditioner and I could smell the pollution throughout the drive. I was experiencing chills, headache, and nausea. By the time we got to the airport, I was literally crawling on my way to the check-in counter.
To make matters worst, the airport security was harassing me for a bribe while I was dying from food poisoning. This is the worst ending ever to what was a fun trip.
Escape from Madagascar
After what felt like forever, we finally got through the check-in counter and security. I didn’t want to stay another night in Madagascar and I was glad I got out.
Despite my suffering, it was better to leave Madagascar altogether and make my way to my next destination. We were now going on another long trip starting from Antananarivo to Addis Ababa to Bangkok and finally landing in Manila in the Philippines where we would be celebrating Christmas.
I escaped Madagascar but the food poisoning bout would take another 7-days before I fully recovered from it.
I wish the ending of my trip to Madagascar wasn’t so horrible. The first several days of our trip here was enjoyable. I now tell people that I’m the king of food poisoning. Officially, I’ve now experienced food poisoning in North America, Africa, Europe, and Asia.
I’m a more cautious traveller now, avoiding dairy when I travel.
As for Madagascar, I can see myself returning here in the far distant future. Perhaps when the country is more developed and when I’m a senior. It is certainly a great country to visit if you love nature, landscapes, and delicious food.