Diego Suarez and Parc National Montagne d'Ambre

Trip Start Mar 23, 2007
Trip End Apr 01, 2007

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

We were up at what felt like crack of dawn again to get a flight up north to Diego Suarez about 09.00.  The airport was absolute mayhem, lots of flights were going around the same time, the queues were intermingled and ignored, luggage being tripped over, you name it.  However, we made it through and made it to Diego.  Were met by our guide for the next few days, Christian, and also our driver and cook!!  Talk about travelling in style.  As we have such a short time in Madagascar, rather than trying to do it all ourselves and see only half of what we would otherwise, we had booked all the main bits, including transport and guides.  Vehicle this time was a Toyota Land Cruiser, right hand drive in a left hand drive country, so being in the front passenger seat was interesting.  Bit old, but very comfortable, even with some of the roads.  On some of the roads we'd be going along thinking 'wow, this is really 4WD country, glad we're in this vehicle' and then we'd meet an ancient Renault 4 puttering along!

From the airport we went straight to Parc National Montagne d'Ambre, which apparently got its name from the amber colour of the resin from a particular tree, rather than actual amber.  Went to see the Sacred Waterfall first, which was lovely.  Nice shady short stroll, and fairly small but nice waterfall.  Women come there at certain times of the year to pray, but we had the place to ourselves.

Then back to the main public area, where we were to have a picnic lunch.  However, the 'picnic' wasn't quite what we were expecting - it could have been more appropriately entitled a feast, complete with tablecloth, napkins and fingerbowls!  There was a salad with avocado, egg, lettuce and tomoato, rice, fresh cooked crab, fresh baguettes, followed by oranges and bananas.  Now that's what I call a picnic!

Luckily, after stuffing our faces we had another walk, but longer this time, but not exactly strenuous, through the forest to another waterfall.

Saw several chameleons of varying sizes, including the smallest, pictured on Liv's hand.  

I wonder if they have a different sense of time - they all moved as if they were on slow motion.  We also some some lemurs high up in the trees, but I wouldn't have known that's what they were if I hadn't been told.  But exciting to see them all the same.  It was quite wet underfoot, and although there were plenty of slips, I didn't actually go flat on my backside thankfully.  We didn't return to the same place, but were met by the vehicle at the other end.  Then on/back to Diego Suarez, with some wonderful views en route.

Stayed at the Grand Hotel, which was indeed rather grand and we traipsed mud all over the place.  Someone very quickly appeared with a broom and swept up after us!  Settled in, went for a bit of a swim, but it was late afternoon and most of the pool was in shade by then, so didn't linger.  Went for a bit of a wander around the town, theer was a nice relaxed atmosphere, and buildings of the faded colonial glory type, mostly fairly maintained rather than picturesque crumbling.  Some nice craft shops too, though I restrained myself.  Had a nice dinner in the hotel restaurant by the pool.

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Where I stayed
Grand Hotel
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