Kayaking Madagascar

Kayaking Madagascar

My dhow-supported kayak adventure trip was arranged by Madagascar Island Safaris. Flights and bookings were handled through Jenman African Safaris. The 10-day trip costs around R13 000 a person and includes airfares, airport taxes, transport, accommodation and meals. The beauty of Madagascar Island Safari's rustic adventure trips is Ross's flexible itinerary: you can tailor-make your trip beforehand or go with the flow on the day.

These dhow-based tours are run out of Hell-Ville on Nosy Be Island and accommodation is mostly on remote island beaches in A-frame bungalows or tents. Facilities such as water and ablutions are better at some camps than others, but the crew is prepared and the well-equipped dhow is never far away. This is a rugged adventure trip; if you want five-star pampering and room-service, look elsewhere.

Food
In the bigger, more touristy areas such as Hell-Ville you'll find Western-style food, but once you leave the beaten track, expect traditional Malagasy meals. Rice (vari) is a staple and accompanies dishes based on fish or zebu (Madagascar's version of a cow). Being in the tropics, expect lots of fruit.

Weather
The weather varies greatly by region. The northern parts of Madagascar have very few months without rain. In February and March, there's torrential rain and cyclones occur, while in December and January it's stinking hot. The best time to travel in the northwest is between May and November.

Communication
Cellphone coverage is good even in many remote areas, although signal quality varies between operators. If you must have contact, buy pre-paid sim cards from all three operators: Zain, Orange and Telma. Just please keep your phone on silent or you could ruin the peaceful vibe on the beach.

Currency
Madagascar's currency is Malagasy ariary (MGA) and R1 equals around MGA260. Rands are not accepted and it's better to exchange euros than US dollars before you leave home. There are very few ATMs and VISA (only) credit cards are accepted at chain hotels and Air Madagascar offices, but not anywhere else.

Precautions
Overall, Madagascar is not a dangerous place but, as anywhere, be vigilant of petty theft in hotels and on the streets. It's better not to walk around at night with cameras or large amounts of cash. Carry your passport with you at all times.

Health
Being the tropics, malaria is a danger, so speak to your GP for advice before you go. Once there, wear long sleeves and use insect repellent at dawn and dusk.

Contact Madagascar Island Safaris on
tel 021-783-3536,
e-mail misafaris@mweb.co.za,
web www.madagascarislandsafaris.co.za

Written and contributed by Evan Haussmann, Getaway Magazine
www.getaway.co.za/

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