Friday, 11 May 2012

A final bump in the road...

After the excitement/hell of the disastrous journeys to and from the Tsingy, we were looking forward to flying south and having a couple of days relaxing in coastal towns. I imagined myself, drink in hand, admiring the pleasures of a Malagasy beach, taking jaunts to explore the unusual vegetation of the area. Alas, it was not to be, with one final problem still in store before smooth sailing for the rest of our travels.

We arrived at the airport after barely three hours sleep, checked our bags and hopped on the plane. It was a multi-stop journey, heading first to Antananarivo before moving on back south. Only as the plane was preparing for take-off were we informed that Antananarivo would in fact be the final destination, and we would find out there when we could catch a plane south. On arrival, we combined our French to figure out that there wasn't another plane leaving until the following evening, and we would be put up overnight in a nearby hotel.

Off we went, grateful that we were fortunate enough to have three weeks in the country, and therefore time to spare. Another couple we met whilst hanging around at the airport were less lucky - like the tour group we'd come across, they had been forced to abandon their trip to the Tsingy, and now were losing their time at the coast. The following evening we were back at the airport, checked our bags in, and waited. And waited. And then waited some more. The hours ticked past, and no information was forthcoming. Finally the tanoy crackled into life, and our fears were confirmed - there would be no flight that evening, as the plane had broken down. It was now almost midnight, we had to collect our bags and queue to get a place in another hotel.

Finally, the following day, we caught our flight - three days late. On the upside, we met a lot of interesting and friendly people in the airport, and heard much worse stories than ours involving the ridiculously unreliable Air Madagascar, as a result considering ourselves remarkably lucky!

A little more time in Antananarivo than we'd expected!
I know the past few blog posts haven't painted the greatest picture of our travels in Madagascar, but I promise that it was just a small part of the overall journey and it really is sunshine and rainbows from here on out (well, Lemurs and waterfalls anyway). But it's worth knowing that travelling through Madagascar can be challenging, and requires patience and a bit of spare time left aside for sudden changes of plan. As a French traveller we met said quite succinctly: 'If people want adventure, then here it is!'

My advice? Don't fly Air Madagascar (or 'Air Maybe' as everyone seemed to call them), unless you really have to. Unfortunately this means foregoing domestic air travel in the country, which adds lots more time onto journeys. However, having spoken to many other travellers whilst hanging around, every single one had at least one major delay or cancellation, which would in fact have made overland the quicker option.

We'd made it at last though, and were ready for the second half of our trip: exploring the sensational national parks, which definitely makes it all worth while!

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