Madagascar In Style [Part 1]

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It is often said that Africa gets under people’s skin. Madagascar is as intoxicating a country as many safari destinations and offers a great cocktail of endemic wildlife, picture postcard beaches & islands all mixed with fascinating and quirky ancient culture.  Few destinations can tick all these boxes on a traveller’s list.

Although the tourism industry has not boomed yet in Madagascar, the country is known to be offering comfortable but fairly basic, no-thrills accommodation with the exception of a few beach hotels/lodges and those in search of a luxurious experience might have stirred away from it for this reason.

However since 2007 and the inception of Edd Tucker-Brown’s luxurious MadaClassic camps, Mandare River Camp and Manafiafy Beach & Rainforest Lodge, it is now time to go and experience this rich country in style!

After having worked in East Africa, Edd decided to take the concept of the East-African luxury Tented Camp to Madagascar and Mandrare River Camp was born.

Our ‘Madagascar In Style’ 14 day Itinerary starts from £3,600 per person – visit our contact page for more details or call us on 01905 731 373.

A day at Mandrare River Camp

I arrived early morning at Antananarivo airport (aka Tana) and after a few hours of sleep I was back at the airport for my Air Madagascar domestic flight to Fort Dauphin in the South East corner of the island – one of the most remote and untouched parts of the island.

I was met at the airport by my private MadaClassic driver and guide and we left the laid back and trendy Fort Dauphin for Mandrare River Camp.

The road transfer to the camp takes about 3 hours 30 minutes. The road is bumpy however this is a fantastic drive giving my guide a great chance to introduce the country. We leave the lush coast, drive through the transition forest and finally arrive in the dry and arid area of Ifotaka.

Arriving at Mandrare River Camp felt like arriving at a friends’ house…Edd, the owner who is very often at the camp, is a very likeable character who quickly makes you feel at ease and after a quick visit to my tent I am whisked away on a trip to the baobab field with the promise of a thirst- quenching sundowner!

The camp is located in a stunning location on the bank of the Mandrare river  and  the six tents are located along the shady river bank, with stunning views across the tranquil water of the river and the mountains beyond.

Our ‘Madagascar In Style’ 14 day Itinerary starts from £3,600 per person – visit our contact page for more details or call us on 01905 731 373.

The next day, accompanied by my MadaClassic guide and a few other guests we are taken to the famous Spiny Forest in search of lemurs and wildlife. The landcruiser drops us off by the river bank and we then wade through the river to get to the forest on the other side of the river. What an adventure! The Spiny forest is sacred to the Antandroy, the local tribe and as we walk through the forest we come across tombs of the tribe’s ancesters and find the famous ring-tailed lemurs. It is fantastic to see them in the wild and unhabituated to humans unlike so many places where you can see them in Madagascar.

Back for lunch at the camp, we are treated to a scrumptious homecooked style 3 course lunch in the mess tent. Meals at Mandrare are a real pleasure and the chefs prepare simple but tasty dishes inspired by French cuisine with a Malagasy twist – Freshly baked breads & viennoiseries, fresh fruit juices, homemade preserves for breakfast etc…

Late afternoon we head out to another private scared forest, the Gallery forest, which this time is a canopy forest in search of noctural lemurs.

By the time we get back to the camp it is dark and we are welcomed back with a surprise performance from the Antandroy around the camp fire. The Antandroy tribe (people of the spines) is believed to be one of the fiercest tribes in Madagascar and their enchanting and playful singing and dancing depict some of their ancestral stories. Very entertaining! A dozen children from the local villages come and sit on the side of the camp fire, quietly excited by the forthcoming performance.

Click on this link to listen to an audio clip Mandrare – Antandroy singing

The focus of the activities at Mandrare is not only on the wildlife but also on the Antandroy tribe and its intriguing culture. And joined by your guide and through visits of the vibrant markets and villages you will discover the bizarre and fascinating traditions of Madagascar’s most interesting tribe! On our way back to the camp after an activity, we drove passed a young man with a comb entangled in his hair. Our guide explained that men use this as a sign that they are single and looking for a companion…

The next morning I am gently woken by ladies chanting whilst they are collecting water at the river. This is so atmopsheric and a relaxing way to start the day!

Sadly, It is now time to go and I am driven back to Fort Dauphin where we have lunch at a local restaurant and we then continue to Sainte-Luce and Mandrare’s sister property, Manafiafy Rainforest & Beach Lodge.

Our ‘Madagascar In Style’ 14 day Itinerary starts from £3,600 per person – visit our contact page for more details or call us on 01905 731 373.

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