Feedback on Madagascar Experience (DMHM)

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Feedback on Madagascar Experience (DMHM)

Postby tletter » Wed Aug 15, 2012 3:24 am

First off Madagascar is a fascinating country and well worth a visit of sufficient duration to its diversity. We spent a month there, two weeks of which were on the Madagascar Experience (DMHM). The other two weeks were spent on a boat trip down the Tsiribihina River; visiting Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park and the Allée des Baobabs; and on Île Sainte-Marie to see the humpback whales.

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Allée des Baobabs

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Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park

With respect to Madagascar Experience (DMHM), while it is interesting, the itinerary ought to be revised to visit more highlights of Madagascar. The following are specific observations about our DMHM trip:

1. The optional visits to the Reserve Peyrieras and Vakôna Reserve were very good.

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2. The Anja Reserve visit was very good.

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3. The so-called "homestay and dinner with a local family" was not really a homestay at all since we simply stayed in an empty house in a village in which local women prepared a meal.

4. Not visiting the Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park and the Allée des Baobabs is an important omission from the itinerary and so the itinerary should be reworked to include them.

5. The visit to Lake Andraikiba was not worth the time and made us miss the "Guided night walk in Ranomafana National Park".

6. Our trip did not include the following items listed on 'http://www.gadventures.com/trips/madagascar-experience/DMHM/2012/' page:

a. "Guided night walk in Ranomafana National Park".
b. "Stop at tea plantation".
c. "Visit Ghost Talker in local village".

7. Ifaty was OK but the description as "the breathtaking beaches of the Mozambican Channel" seemed hyperbolic.

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The snorkeling on the reef was just OK. The highlight was the boat trip to the reef in a dugout canoe.

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8. The hike through Isalo National Park is up to the natural swimming pool is good, but not so much afterwards.

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The accommodation is variable but at no time unacceptable. Some specific observations follow:

1. The Chalet des Roses in Tana was very good.

2. The Hotel Hasina in Antsirabe was marginal with lots of street noise in the rooms along the street throughout the night.

3. The Hotel Manja in Ranomafana was a big disappointment since after the hiking to the homestay and back, we hoped to get a shower but our room in the Hotel Manja had no hot water.

4. The Ikotel in Ifaty had a very limited selection of food so as a group we ate elsewhere down the beach. Our bed was only a box spring so it was very uncomfortable.

We have a group of 8 people and a CEO travelling in a mini-van. The mini-bus was comfortable with a good amount of room for our group size.

You should note that despite what the detailed trip notes say, you’ll not be "sleeping on a traditionally women mat".

Outside of Tana access to the Internet via WIFI or wireline devices becomes spotty and at some locations, e.g. Ifaty, it is simply not available.

Finally, Madagascar is a fascinating place to visit and if you get the chance, you should participate in an exhumation ceremony.

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Re: Feedback on Madagascar Experience (DMHM)

Postby ExplorerWannaBe » Wed Aug 15, 2012 11:22 pm

Very useful review. Thanks!
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Re: Feedback on Madagascar Experience (DMHM)

Postby bioteach » Fri Aug 24, 2012 7:26 pm

Thanks for the feedback on this trip. My husband and I are booked to go on this tour in November. Were you able to see lots of lemurs and chameleons (besides the ones in the photos you posted)?
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Re: Feedback on Madagascar Experience (DMHM)

Postby tletter » Sun Aug 26, 2012 1:03 am

bioteach wrote:Were you able to see lots of lemurs and chameleons (besides the ones in the photos you posted)?

We saw enough lemurs species to satisfy us but you should be aware that photographing lemurs high up in the canopy in the NPs is difficult. Private reserves like the Reserve Peyrieras and Vakôna Reserve (optional activities) provide good opportunities to photograph some lemur and chameleon species.

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Indri high up in canopy with strong backlight

We saw grey and green chameleons of various sizes and the really colourful ones at the Reserve Peyrieras.

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Parson's chameleon (Andasibe NP)

Apart from lemurs and chameleons, you should also try seeing some of the other wildlife including the amazing flat-tailed gecko ...

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Wondrous camouflage

... or fossa

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A lemur hunter

... or humpback whales.

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Breaching off Île Sainte-Marie

Finally if you're interested, we have posted one of our Madagascar videos on the web - see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRWK4AH16zw.
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Re: Feedback on Madagascar Experience (DMHM)

Postby bioteach » Sun Aug 26, 2012 11:05 am

Thanks for the video, tletter, and for your advice on how best to see lemurs and chameleons. We'll be sure to do those optional activities. Madagascar looks like a really interesting country, with a lot of variety in scenery and activity. If you post a video of the rest of your trip, I'd be very interested in seeing it.
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Re: Feedback on Madagascar Experience (DMHM)

Postby tletter » Fri Aug 31, 2012 12:26 pm

bioteach wrote:If you post a video of the rest of your trip, I'd be very interested in seeing it.

We've another video on our trip to Madagascar available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=heki8voPMws. This one covers Tsingy, L'Allée des Baobabs and Île Sainte-Marie and includes scenes of chameleons, lemurs and breaching humpback whales.

When time permits we'll start working on a couple of videos on our DMHM trip.
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Re: Feedback on Madagascar Experience (DMHM)

Postby bioteach » Fri Aug 31, 2012 1:41 pm

Loved this video too. Can hardly wait to see videos from the DMHM part of your Madagascar trip. We're onhy 2 1/2 months away from our trip to Madagascar and it won't be long until we start counting the days.
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Re: Feedback on Madagascar Experience (DMHM)

Postby tletter » Tue Sep 04, 2012 10:39 am

bioteach wrote:Can hardly wait to see videos from the DMHM part of your Madagascar trip.

We've finished our first video on our DMHM trip to Madagascar and its available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWSsj8I1_PY. This one covers Andasibe NP, Reserve Peyrieras, Reserve Vakôna and the Royal Palace on the Royal Hill of Ambohimanga near Antananarivo. There are lots of scenes showing lemurs (indri indri, sifaka, etc.), chameleons and other critters. It also shows the unusual fossa and interactions with habituated lemurs at the Reserve Vakôna.

You should be aware that visits to both the Reserve Peyrieras and the Reserve Vakôna are optional but in our experience they are well worth the cost as you'll see animals that you'll be unlikely to see on the rest of your DMHM trip.

At some point, we'll have videos covering the rest of our DMHM trip experience.
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Re: Feedback on Madagascar Experience (DMHM)

Postby bioteach » Tue Sep 04, 2012 1:57 pm

Thanks for this latest video. On the GAdventures website for the DMHM trip, it indicates that $150 - $200 should be allowed for meals. Is this realistic? It seems very low for 14 DAY TRIP.
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Re: Feedback on Madagascar Experience (DMHM)

Postby tletter » Tue Sep 04, 2012 8:06 pm

bioteach wrote:It seems very low for 14 DAY TRIP.

This is not really a 14 day trip, it's actually a 12 day one since many participants arrive late on Day 1 and depart early on Day 14. There are no trip activities on either day save for the normal pre-trip meeting during the evening of Day 1. As well a lunch, supper and breakfast are provided during the one day homestay period. Hence you only really need to buy meals on 11 days.

bioteach wrote:On the GAdventures website for the DMHM trip, it indicates that $150 - $200 should be allowed for meals. Is this realistic?

Per person you should budget about 10K Ariary for breakfast, 15K for lunch (3K for pop) and 20K for supper (4K for beer). Of course you may wish to buy some souvenirs (3K-60K per item), snacks (4K for a good chocolate bar) and water (2K for 1.5L bottle).

I don't know what currency you normally use by a simple but fairly accurate method to convert these prices to $US is to divide the price in Ariary by 2K.

You should also be aware that you need to have available Ariary to pay for most meals and souvenirs. We converted $US to Ariary in Tana at the start of our trip and again at a bank in Toliara - others used ATMs. Some places that you'll stay will not have currency exchange or ATMs, e.g. Ifaty, but your CEO should tell you this.
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Re: Feedback on Madagascar Experience (DMHM)

Postby bioteach » Wed Sep 05, 2012 9:32 am

Thanks for the info on meal costs. We live in Canada, and I've already checked with both the bank and Currency Exchange and have found that neither handle Ariary, so we'll have to get either USD or Euros and convert in Madagascar.

I'm finding your information very helpful, so here's another question. For the hike to the homestay, did you have to carry all your luggage or were you able to take a smaller pack with necessities for that one night and leave your main luggage behind?

I'm really loving your videos and can hardly wait for the next installment. It's really giving me a bit of a feel for what Madagascar will be like.
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Re: Feedback on Madagascar Experience (DMHM)

Postby tletter » Wed Sep 05, 2012 7:14 pm

bioteach wrote:I've already checked with both the bank and Currency Exchange and have found that neither handle Ariary, so we'll have to get either USD or Euros and convert in Madagascar.

It's unlikely that a small currency like the Ariary is widely available abroad and in any event you'll get a better exchange rate in Tana. Alternatively you can get Ariaries via some ATMs in Madagascar but you'll still need some cash just in case.

At some hotels, e.g. Hotel Feon'ny Ala in Andasibe NP, they'll accept Euros but you'll still need Ariaries to buy goods and food elsewhere.

bioteach wrote:For the hike to the homestay, did you have to carry all your luggage or were you able to take a smaller pack with necessities for that one night and leave your main luggage behind?

You only carry what you need for a 24-hour period. The remainder of your luggage is left in the van which the driver stays with.
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Re: Feedback on Madagascar Experience (DMHM)

Postby TravelFun » Thu Sep 06, 2012 5:25 pm

Thanks tletter for your review and advice.
DO THE RIGHT THING ...all the time, every time!
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Re: Feedback on Madagascar Experience (DMHM)

Postby tletter » Sat Sep 08, 2012 10:12 am

I've uploaded to YouTube our second and last video on our DMHM experience. This video includes Ranomafana NP (golden bamboo lemur); Isalo NP; trek to hill village of Ambatonikolahy; the Anja Community Reserve (ring-tailed lemur); and the beachside village of Ifaty on the Mozambique Channel. If you're interested, the video is available as http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1RgJPjoLMs.

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On hike to hill village of Ambatonikolahy

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Ring-tailed lemurs at Anja Community Reserve

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Ring-tailed

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Well-used taxi-brousse

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Ifaty on Mozambique Channel

Finally if you go to Madagascar and only do the DMHM trip then you'll be missing both the remarkable Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park and L'Allée des Baobabs. These are highlights of Madagascar not to be missed. Fortunately in the dry season you can easily visit these on your own by flying from Tana to Morondava and engaging a 4x4 with driver for the trip to Tsingy which conveniently passes along L'Allée des Baobabs.
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Re: Feedback on Madagascar Experience (DMHM)

Postby angelaricho » Wed Apr 24, 2013 3:01 am

Hi
I am planning to do the Madagascar trip with G Ad. this September.
I like your idea of adding the boat trip as well. Could you please tell me the company you used.
Thanks
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