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Story of first trip to Madagascar by Jian

Madagascar country

As a child, I loved traveling and taking photos, I created a camera with a cardboard, I always followed the elders to discover new places to meet many people coming from various countries, invented adventures among friends was our childhood game. And this dream was realized, God gives me every day the chance and the opportunity to do it, give me friendly friends.

My love for the Spanish language began by watching Mexican soap operas "Wild Rose" if I was not mistaken it was Mexican. And from that one I studied this language, to the lyceum, to the university and until now working and in all my life. Of course I do not speak it and write it as a real Spanish native, but I am proud to be able to realize one of my dreams, but my list is long, heh heh!

He began the job of guide 9 years ago, also working as a travel agent and interpreter in several travel agencies. He lived many bad and good experiences.

My first trip was with a family of 3 (Josep the father, Ana the mother, and Uriol the son, 13), traveling through the South of Madagascar, which I also recommend for a first trip on the island to tourists. The South and its spectacular riches. It was an 11 day trip, the feeling I felt, was the fear, since it was the first time I accompanied tourists, the fear of not being able to meet my first tourists. But trust comes from nothing, it comes from God. But hey, every thing has its beginning no!

So, I'll tell you a little about this first trip!

Day 1: Spain-Antananarivo-Antsirabe 170km

Antananarivo is the capital of Madagascar, it is a cosmopolitan city, but the majority ethnic group are the Merina.

Towards the first city of the South, Antsirabe = where there is a lot of salt, the city has a source of thermal water, which has a curative virtue for those who have diseases of the joints, and others.

The customers' flight arrived at 7 in the morning, I received the tourists with the driver to welcome them. Smiles, courtesy and all the best I could offer for this first encounter. Smiles really, but a smile that hid a fear, I almost did not feel my legs, as if I ran for 100km without stopping. After the presentations, the clients asked me if we could be yours. And I replied that I felt good, as if traveling with my own family.

Every moment we passed was full of smiles, jokes. Uriol is the only child of the couple, I was like a sister to him. We shared many things.

Those who were very surprised were in Ambatolampy, in an aluminum recycling workshop, watching the makers of barefoot pots, then see the most used pousse-pousse means of transport, such as the Indian tuk-tuk in Antsirabe.

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Day 2: Antsirabe-Ambositra 90km

Leaving the city of Antsirabe to continue towards Ambositra. It is the city of the crafts of the South part, famous for the marquetry. We were visiting a village in the morning, Zafimaniry people, are animist ethnicities who continue to believe and respect the relationship between the dead and the living, a tribe isolated from the civilization of large cities. Zafimaniry, is an ethnic subgroup of the Betsileo, I am, for example, of this ethnic group. The Betsileo, has a tradition called FAMADIHANA or return of the dead. It involves wrapping the corpses for a new shroud. The living think that the dead have cold, this tradition is celebrated every 5 years.

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Day 3: Ambositra: Towns of Zafimaniry (Antoetra and Ifasina) 100km round trip

That day, everything was enthusiastic to find that tribe and its way of life, its traditions. Visiting the house of the village chief, ask permission to enter the territory of his village. The villages Zafimaniry accounts for around 50, but Antoetra and Ifasina are the closest. The road was rough but in the end, we did well.

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Day 4: Ambositra - Ranomafana 170km

That day, other surprises awaited them, the Natural Park of Ranomafana, in the town that bears the same name.
Ranomafana = hot water, there is a source of thermal water also as in Antsirabe.

The park is full of tropical rainforest of 40 000ha, sheltering a diversity of faunas and floras. What struck me most during that visit was Uriol's father. Before making a visit in this park, I always warn tourists that since it is humid then it slides a lot, better to hook the trunks of the trees. Uriol's father was the first to tell me not to worry, he said he is a great adventurer, a forest tartar, a warrior and such. Not even an hour starting the visit, slipped, from top to bottom, chocoo among the trees, at a distance of 15m. I was very scared of what his legs failed. Then I asked him how he was doing, but he kept joking "Do not worry because I'm an adventurer" and Uriol his son was laughing a lot about him and we were laughing together. It was very funny. They were very surprised the encounter with the lemurs of several species of the park and especially this lemur in the photo, the smaller one.

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Day 5: Ranomafana -Ambalavao-Anja Reserve- Ranohira 332km

We continue our adventure further south in Ranohira, the route is announced long with the distance between these cities. But we paid a visit to the private reserve of Anja in Ambalavao. In that reserve we saw chameleons of different sizes, and especially the ring-tailed lemurs: the Maki-Catta. They were surprised again by these creatures, their way of life, and Uriol did not want to leave, but we had to continue our route. At dusk we arrive in Ranohira and we prepared for the visit of the Isalo Natural Park in the morning.

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Day 6: Ranohira: Isalo Natural Park

It was a great discovery for them, because in one day they could bathe, discover another species of lemur and find another ethnic group, the Bara.
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Day 7: Ranohira-Sakaraha-Tuléar-Ifaty 270km

Our trip was almost over, but they still had another surprise that the Malagasy nature reserved for them from Spain. In the city of Sakaraha, they discovered the Baobabs: they are majestic trees of rare shape, as if they were planted in reverse, trunks from below and roots from above. Sometimes we call it the roots of heaven. There are 8 species of Baobab to the world and 6 of them are only found in Madagascar and are endemic. Along the way, they were also surprised by the tombs of the Mahafaly ethnic group, between Sakaraha and Tuléar, colorful tombs, adorned by Aloalo, funerary art, a totem representing the daily life of the deceased. Arriving in Tuléar, the city where the Tropic of Capricorn is passing, the heat is felt, the rhythm of life is also noticeable with climate change.

Ifaty is a village about 30km north of Tuléar. I and the driver accompanied the clients to Ifaty, because they spent 2 more days there without guide, it is like days of intimacy between family.

And we said goodbye that day because they were our boss who accompanied them to the airport the day of return in Spain. At the end of the trip I gave them a form from the agency that they had to fill in and point our service from 1 to 10, and they gave the bosses in a sealed envelope. The dismissed was very hard, they cried a lot, and Uriol especially, with his desire to have sister. He gave me a painting he made for himself, a painting of Lemur Maki Catta, his tail ring. Ayyy, how talented is this Uriol at his age!

Me and the driver had to travel again those kilometers (1132km with visits but 975km of national route) without them for the return.

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Days 8 and 9: Ifaty

Free days (various activities will be offers by hotels: Baobabs forest, turtle breeding, etc .)

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Day 10: Ifaty-Tuléar-Antananarivo

Day 11:

On my arrival at the agency, the boss called me in his office and told me that I got 9/10, he congratulated me for this first trip because the customers were very satisfied.

So it was my first trip, my first experience, my first adventure, my first sensation living a dream that turns into reality.

*Guest Blog Post by:  Jian                                          

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