The Eighth Continent – Madagascar – Part 3: Morondava

The Eighth Continent – Madagascar – Part 3: Morondava

When I planned my visit to Madagascar, I was trying to figure out where I should visit. Travelling as far as I would, nearly 10,000km on the flight path, I should be planning to explore as much as I could. However, Madagascar is also massive and doesn’t have a strong road infrastructure. This means that travel within the country is either long or expensive. Still, given that I wanted to visit it for its biodiversity, I was quite determined to travel at least far enough to cover two different biomes/climate areas.

The choice of Morondava and Kirindy weren’t that difficult from what-I-wanted-to-see point of view. They reside in the drier lowland western area of the country and hosts a completely different type of a biodiversity than the upland wet landscape that occurs closer to Antananarivo. Sporting world’s smallest lemurs and the world famous Avenue of the Baobabs, it was just a matter of convincing my self to either take a 12 hour van drive one way or cough up 220 EUR one way for a flight there.

At the end of the day, I decided to make it on the van. Thanks to DriveMada I managed to book my return trip to Morondava on Cotisse Transport before I even landed in Madagascar. Morondava is about 650km from the capital Antananarivo. While a highway would’ve covered this distance in about 6-7 hours, the road network is not that great in Madagascar and you are forced to stretch it to 12 hours. Around 7 PM, I was finally in Morondava. The hotel, had exceeded my expectations and had sent the cab driver along with a board that had my name, knowing in advance that I could not speak much French.

Morondava is optimally placed to be a eco-tourist hotspot. The town itself was bigger than I imagined and seemed to be quite used to having foreigners around. Quite a few people I met spoke basic English, good enough to communicate the needs and wants and were extremely helpful. Few beach clubs I spotted along the way had a hippie vibe to them (one of them sported a marijuana leaf in neon signs and the other one had Lion of Judah painted right across the wall). There are about two shops that sell tourist memorabilia. To my surprise, they seemed to be selling only t-shirts, bracelets and other wearable items rather than collectibles that you’d keep on a display (though this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise if you read in to the hippie vibes). There are ample food options along the beach restaurants, always having fresh sea food on the menu.

The hotel I chose, Baobab Cafe, while being a complete coincidence turned out to be an amazing choice. The hotel is built on a side of the Hellot canal and the restaurant provides a great view over across the canal. While I had seen some negative comments about the particular cafe, I took the gamble and won’t regret it at all. They also managed to convert my excursion plans which were quite strung together by strings in to one generous package that was actually cheaper than what I budgeted for.

There are a few other places than the Avenue of the Baobabs and Kirindy Private Forest Reserve that you can visit from Morondava. Belo-sur-Mer is a small fishing town south of Morondava that is accessible via boat. Most of the hotels will also set up excursions to Tsingy de Bemaraha, a nature reserve and a UNESCO world heritage site that has massive limestone mountains and a good place to spot Ring Tailed Lemurs. The Kirindy-Mitea National Park is also accessed from Morondava. Unfortunately for me, I was on a tight schedule and could not spend more than 3 days in Morondava. My excursions were limited to the Kirindy Private Forest Reserve and the Avenue of the Baobabs.

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