Madagascar Journals

Madagascar from a Resident's Viewpoint

A travel journal to Madagascar by soleil17

Il Balenottero Dive Center Photo, Madagascar, Africa More Photos
Quote: I just moved from Madagscar, where I had lived for several years. I traveled frequently within the island while residing there.

Madagascar from a Resident's Viewpoint

Best Of IgoUgo

Overview

Antananarivo view Photo, Madagascar, Africa
Quote:
A naturalist's paradise, Madagascar offers the traveler with lots of time the opportunity to see flora and fauna unlike anywhere else on the planet. With more time, a traveler can begin to understand the complex and virtually undocumented intricacies of the Malagasy culture. Visit, but only when you have a minimum of 2 to 3 weeks to spare--preferably more--and do your research ahead of time in order to get the most of your experience.Quick Tips: Best Travel Agency: Cortez Travel Best Travel Agent and Best Source of Travel Info: Monique Rodriguez Best Place to get a visa: Honorary Consulate of Madagascar, Solana Beach, CA--they ...Read More

Soanambo Hotel

Best Of IgoUgo

Hotel

Quote:
It's hard to rate the accommodations at the Soanambo--they're budget by most standard but upper-end by Malagasy standards. Beware of the photos on their website--although representative of the place, the details don't show how run-down the facilities actually are. The rooms are clean, but be aware that without a/c, they can get very hot at night, and opening the windows permits the mosquitos to enter your room. The hotel is on the "beach," but know that the beach is often only 2 feet wide, and the water is only about 6 inches deep for a few hundred yards, as it is protected by a coral reef barrier. Don't come here expecting to swim outside your hotel door. Sea urchins also abound--and ...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on January 29, 2005

Venta Club Andilana Beach

Best Of IgoUgo

Hotel

Venta Club Aerial View Photo, Madagascar, Africa
Quote:
Best Things Nearby:Other small islands can be visited on a day trip from the resort--I highly recommend Nosy Iranja.Best Things About the Resort:Everything--the service, the rooms, the food, the amenities, and the activities are unsurpassed in Madagascar.Resort Experience:This is the only major international standard beach resort in Madagascar. It's run by the Ventaglio group, an Italian group much like France's Club Med. The majority of the patrons are Italians and expats resident in Antananarivo. The beach is long, wide, and beautiful here. It's one of the few places you can actually swim in Madagascar--deep water, with no sharks, and they sp...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 29, 2005

Varangue

Restaurant | "La Varangue"

Varangue Photo, Antananarivo, Madagascar
Quote:
La Varangue was one of my two favorite restaurants in Antananarivo. The management is wonderful, and patrons can dine on excellent French food at bargain prices. I recommend the Crottin de Tulear (warm goat cheese) and any of the duck dishes, which are fabulous. Beware of "frogs legs"--you will actually be served small headless frogs that have been fried. Tasty, but not what most people expect! This is one of the few places in the country where you can get a beer on draft. There is a lovely outdoor terrace. The interior is cozy, with antiques and a fireplace. La Varangue is also an inn that is popular with foreign travelers.

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 29, 2005

Varangue
17 rue Printsy Ratsimamanga
Antananarivo, Madagascar

Nerone

Restaurant

Quote:
Nerone has the best Italian food in Antananarivo. The restaurant imports many basics from Italy. The interior is nicely decorated, prices are reasonable, and food quality is excellent.


Highly recommended: Melanzane, an excellent eggplant dish; any of the risottos; any of the pastas; and ice cream irlandese, chocolate and vanilla ice cream with a Bailey's coating.


Be wary of dishes that include smoked seafood--several of my friends have gotten sick eating these. Otherwise, I have never had a problem eating here.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 29, 2005

Scuba Diving

Attraction

Il Balenottero Dive Center Photo, Madagascar, Africa
Quote:
There is some fascinating diving here, but do yourself a life-saving favor and don't attempt the dives unless you are truly an experienced diver. The currents are very strong, visibility can be very poor, and no medical facilities exist on the island. I am an experienced diver, and some of the dives I have done here greatly challenged me. Safety standards are there, but check your own equipment safely and beware of any buddy given to you if arriving without a partner. Inexperienced divers have been here with some pretty nasty results. That said, sharks, wrecks, live coral, sea turtles, rays, and trumpet fish are interesting draws here. Come and enjoy, but be very very careful--no decompression chamber...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on January 29, 2005

Quote:
According to scientists, this is one of the best places to see humpback whale migration. Although the season changes slightly from year to year, the whales are usually around Ile Ste Marie from late July to early October. Pick your boat carefully, as many small operators run boats that are really too small for the rough waves in the channel. I recommend using Massimo Felici at Il Balenottero, who runs a much larger boat with two viewing decks. He also often hosts European scientists who travel with him during each trip for observation--they are great sources of info. I have gone whale-watching here several times, and the whales have always come so close to the boa...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 29, 2005

La Plage Nightclub

Attraction

Quote:
This place is popular both with the expats and the Malagasy, though the crowds vary greatly from night to night. The night a school vacation starts, the club may be packed with teenagers. Most weekends, however, it's a 20-something crowd. The club is two stories with a terrace and pool (yes, pool) outside (no drinking and swimming, though). There are two main dance floors and one smaller, more private one. The DJs tend to play both American and French club music. Fruit-based drinks are good.


Try a "planteur"--Planter's punch--a yummy concoction of Malagasy rum and fruit juices.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 29, 2005

Pandora Nightclub

Attraction

Quote:
This is a popular nightlife spot, although it gets going late--it's usually dead until nearly midnight. This is the former Latina Cafe nightclub. There is an indoor dance floor with tables and an outdoor terrace with bar stools. This is very popular with expats, and most foreign tourists staying at the Colbert tend to make it here at least once. Men beware--it is nearly impossible to come here without being propositioned by a few prostitutes. I recommend you have a female friend with you if you'd like to avoid being harrassed all evening. Music is standard pop-club mix with an emphasis on African and French hits. Walk with a purpose when you leave the club late at night, be...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 29, 2005

Pandora Nightclub

Antananarivo, Madagascar

Digue Market

Attraction

Digue Market Photo, Madagascar, Africa
Quote:
Digue Market consists of about 100 small stalls with vendors selling arts and crafts from around the island. Vendors will negotiate, and most tourists speaking French can get the price down to about 60% of the initial asking price. However, if you only speak English, they are unlikely to come down more than 30-40%. Popular souvenirs that can be found here include baskets, solitaire sets, polished stones, bug balls, ammonites, woven placemats, hats, wood carvings, wood trays, embroidered items, and spices. Spices tend to be of poor quality. It is recommended to buy prepackaged spices at either Shop Rite or Cora supermarkets (locally produced and packaged but also qu...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 7, 2005

Rhum Arrange

Story/Tip

Quote:
This is a must-try beverage while you are in Madagascar. (There should be an accent over the 'e' in arrange). These are rums that have essentially been infused with local fruits or spices... or both. Fruits, vanilla, or cinnamon are added to a jar full of rum for extended maturation--no less than 6 months, some for several years. You can find these all over the country. I recommend the ones at La Varangue and Chez Suzette restaurants (try the orange version at La Varangue). In general, cinnamon, vanilla, and pineapple tend to be the most popular flavors. Good ones are very smooth, and others are very, well, harsh.

Malagasy Roads

Story/Tip

Road from Foulpointe to Tamatave Photo, Madagascar, Africa
Quote:
Many Malagasy roads are in a poor state of repair due to a lack of funding and the constant problems caused by cyclones and the rainy season. The best road is the route from Antananarivo to Tamatave. The next best is from Antananarivo to Mahajunga, but parts are now in a state of disrepair due to recent cyclones. It is simply not possible to drive from Antananarivo to Diego, and Antananarivo to Ft. Dauphin requires at least 2 or 3 days of constant driving. Antananarivo to Tulear is one of the most popular routes in the country for tourists--allow at least a week and bring plenty of spare tires, medical supplies, water, and food. On the east coast, many bridges have washed out and thus floating bridges...Read More