Madagascan Adventures (Part Four)
|Madagascan Adventure (Part One) can be found here||Madagascan Adventure (Part Two) can be found here||Madagascan Adventure (Part Three) can be found here|
Journey to Tsingy
With the river journey behind us, we jump back into a 4WD and start making our way to Tsingy De Bemaraha National Park (Tsingy). To this day I haven't been able to find where we camped on the river and the start of the zebu cart ride. Nothing of the village names come up in google and I've spent way too long scouring the satellite view of the river bank for something familiar. I may just have to get in touch with our guides and see if they can show me on a map. If I find it I'll put it as a side note in another part or just make a short blog of part 3b.
The only place I have to go by is the ferry crossing to Belo. And by "ferry crossing" I mean 2 long boats strapped together with wooden planks on top. One of those "well, I guess we're doing this" moments as we watch other cars precariously board the ferry. A lunch in Belo then another drive north to another ferry and the Tsingy NP reception.
Arrival at Tsingy De Bemaraha National Park
Our hotel is a welcome sight after 2 days on the river and there is even a pool! One thing we decide to do here is make use of the hotels laundry service. We have our plastic bags with our dirty clothes and take them to the hotel staff and ask how much it will be. We hand over our clothes and the lady proceeds to tip everything out on the dusty ground and count and sort everything. At first I just stared wide eyed as a stranger riffled through my clothes on the rocky ground out in the open. Then I remembered seeing clothes laid out in the sun to dry in villages we'd pass and it occurred to me that it wouldn't be any different here.
A similar realisation occurred a few years prior in Kathmandu. We'd pass stalls with meat for sale sitting out in the open with flies hovering around.. The thought of eating meat from these places verged on repulsive. That was until you realised the hotel or restaurants you eat meat at would have no qualms with sourcing their food from there.
I love having my preconceptions challenged in this way. I'm well aware of my convenient lifestyle here in Australia and it's moments like these that keep my mind open to the spectrum of different ways to do things. I'm a very particular person when it comes to doing things the way I want it done, but if someone does it a different way and the results are just as good, then it doesn't matter.
Hiking the Great Tsingy
Hiking in Tsingy was hot and challenging. The rocks are sharp and the climbs are steep and narrow. Some safety measures are in place, such as a harness and carabiner, and ladders for some sections. It seems like a place you could easily get lost in. The plant and animal life is all interesting, and we even saw some lemurs. The shaded crevices are a welcome respite from the exposed heat of the sun and rocks.
The whole hike feels surreal and awe-inspiring. It's such a unique landscape, although it does remind me of the Pinnacles in Borneo. Only drier.
The next day is spent in "Little Tsingy". A smaller, but just as interesting, area of rock formations. We begin with a ride down the river to explore some of the caves along the cliffs.
The little Tsingy itself isn't as long of a hike as the day before, but it still filled with interesting sights and photographic opportunities. In neither place did I feel like carting around a lot of camera gear, so all of my shots have been hand-held.
There was so much to see at Tsingy. Everything about the limestone rocks is fascinating and I had to stop myself from taking photos of everything. I'm surprised I managed to keep the photos in this blog to these few.
The next part of the adventure will take us to the famous Avenue of Baobabs. The road to get there is a great example of why tourists aren't allowed to drive themselves around. Stay tuned for that in Part Five!