Madagascar – The Undiscovered Country

by Lynn Gail


Lynn with LemurMadagascar – even the name sounds exotic and full of possibilities. And Madagascar is just that – this fourth largest island in the world is brimming with treasures ticking away in an innocent time frame. When I first visited Madagascar in 2013 I had no idea what to expect - I had seen the heart-warming animated movie, heard and read about the many species of lemurs, the strangest animals and the odd shaped plants. More than the unique flora and fauna I had read about the 18 diverse tribes that still practice their taboos and belief system today. The Malagasy people are known for their warmth, though they do not like to be associated with mainland Africa, preferring to be known as island people and therefore more superior. The woman with their faces covered in rich orange thanaka, cracked like the earth, protects their skin from the wind and sun. They take great care in their appearance, wearing fashionable hats and headscarfs atop their colourful attire. In the two weeks I travelled around the island I learnt about the respect they have for their ancestors, and the rituals and ceremonies they carry out within each of the distinctively different tribes. As a whole, the Malagasy are generally a race of people who dislike confrontation – the concept of Fihavanana (meaning brotherhood) is deeply rooted in their make-up and how they go about their daily existence. I met some of the gentlest and most welcoming people as I travelled through their rich and vast landscape. With each new town came a unique and extraordinary culture with its own idiosyncratic ideas. As I listened to their emotive music and danced alongside them in time to their rhythmic movement I fell for the people, their traditions and their isolated environment. I visited the capital, quaint towns and rural villages with romantic names you have to practice before you speak out loud. Antananarivo – the capital comes with a strong colonial French flavour with its cobbled streets and European buildings; Antsirabe, located in the cool highlands, offers rolling hills, interspersed with rice paddies and terraced tranquil countryside; Ambositra – where I found arts and craft carefully crafted out of thin wood; Parc National De L’Isalo – flat dry plains with towering sandstone pillars and an abundance of lemurs were just a few of the highlights on my journey. One special area which became a quick favourite of mine was Ifaty, which sits at the edge of a stunning, sparking coral coastline stirring up gentle sea breazes that rustle though the strange twisted foliage. Here the Vezo tribe live a simple fishing village life that is reminiscent of yesteryear – it’s akin to stepping into pages of a history book on the Spanish Amada with its eye catching patch work quilt sails that colour the azure ocean. If you’ve ever had an inkling to find out about this very unique destination then contact us to chat about the treasures you can expect to unearth on our Madagascar Photography Tour.