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nellie huang wild junket mag april may 2012


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Copy of Nellie Huang's Wild Junket magazine from WTM Social Travel Market 2012

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nellie huang wild junket mag april may 2012

  1. 1. April/May 2012 Travel Light, Travel Far 10 sert De ps! Wild Africa Remote jungles, canyons Tri um, adi R acama W At and bizarre stone forests ra, Saha more... and Sri Lanka Serendipity on the Isle of Serendib Tanzania Africas Big Five in photos Mongolia Living it up in a yurtp60 Uruguay Colonial towns, dramatic beaches and gaucho culture our 10-page guide to the Pearl of South America + Kyrgyzstan | Leatherback Trail in Gabon | Gorillas of Uganda
  2. 2. April/May 2012 Travel Light, Travel Far 10 ert Desps! Wild Africa Remote jungles, canyons Tri New Journey, New Life. i Rum , Wad Atacama and bizarre stone forests ra, Saha more... and Sri Lanka Since the launch of our magazine, we have received a tremendous amount of positive feedback from Serendipity on the Isle of Serendib readers and friends in the travel industry. Our first issue alone has received over two million views! Tanzania We cannot thank you enough for your support - without you, we wouldn’t be doing what we love Africas Big Five in photos Mongolia most. Stick around, we’ve got plenty more to share in upcoming issues. Living it up in a yurt Uruguay Meanwhile, we’ve worked hard to compile this second issue while on the road. We’re now in the Colonial towns, dramatic beaches and gaucho culture our 10-page guide to the Pearl of South America Philippines, a month into our journey around Asia. Although traveling and working on the magazine + Kyrgyzstan | Leatherback Trail in Gabon | Gorillas of Uganda at the same time has been quite a challenge, we are loving this new location-independent lifestyle: our On the Cover African Sunset new office is a bamboo hut on the beach, with the lapping waves and gentle (Galyna Andrushko - fotolia) breeze as our background soundtrack. WildJunket Magazine is a You’ll be seeing alot more on Asia in the upcoming issues, but in this bi-monthly digital travel magazine edition, our focus is on Africa - with a cover feature from our recent trip to with a focus on outdoor adventures Madagascar (p20), a photo essay of wildlife in Tanzania (p60), a story on and sustainable travel. Our mission gorilla tracking in Uganda (p80) and dispatches from Gabon (p40). is to inspire readers to travel light and travel far. We’ve also giving away free subscriptions to Inca Rally participants as well as a one-week car rental to a lucky reader (details on p89). Creative Director Alberto Molero Editor-in-Chief Nellie Huang As always, we want to interact and socialize with you, our readers. If you have Contributing Editor Candace Rardon photos, comments or tips to share, get in touch - we’d love to hear from you! Gear Editor Lenore Greiner Editorial Intern Allison Carlton Nellie Huang GET IN TOUCH Editor-in-Chief & Publisher Contributors Enquiries Editorial Advertising Interested in contributing? Refer to our website for details. Web WildJunket Ltd, 2012. Published by WildJunket Ltd, 163 Jalan Loyang Besar, Singapore 503413. All rights are reserved. Reproduction in any matter is strictly prohibited without the approval of the publishers. The views expressed in articles are those of the writers, and not necessarily of the publishers. Anya Oskolkova Peter West Carey Allison Carlton Born and raised in Russia, Anya Peter West Carey is a professional Our editorial intern, Allison Carlton is a Oskolkova took her first trip abroad at photographer currently leading photo professional journalist with a passion for the age of 7 and has been wandering tours to Bhutan, Nepal and India. adventure travel. She currently works as the world since. She shares her stories He also hosts photography workshops Assistant Editor at True West Magazine, on The Compulsive Traveler’s blog. in the USA. Read about him on the and blogs at the Traveling Bard. For In our Travel Guide section, she writes Carey Adventures. See his photo essay each issue, she writes the Calendar (p58) about Uruguay (p98). of wildlife in Tanzania on p60. and Trip Ideas (p16) pieces. Summer Special! Philippines ColombiaFor all your Madagascar travel arrangements. A small hands-on company based in Madagascar; 20+ Cook Islandsyears experience specializing in custom tailored itineraries for individuals, families and small groups. TurkeyUnique alternatives to standard package tours with personalized service and excellent naturalist guides. Belize Georgia Sherry Ott Lenore Greiner Andrea Wren • Multi-Activity Programs • Avenue of the Baobabs • Filming & Research support Sherry Ott is a refugee from corporate Lenore Greiner is WildJunket’s in- Andrea Wren is an experienced • Extensive Island Tours • Tsiribihina, Manambolo & • Honeymoons Morocco IT who is now a traveler, blogger, and photographer.  She’s co-founder house travel gear editor (p114). She blogs at TravelGearForWomen, freelance journalist, travel writer and blogger based in the UK. She writes • Tsingy de Bemaraha Mangoky Rivers • Student GAP programs 10 Diving Trips of Meet, Plan, Go!, a national event offering career break inspiration. She helping women travel brilliantly. She also writes for Delta Airlines’ Sky, San for the Guardian, Wanderlust, and The Independent. Andrea blogs at also runs the travel blog Ottsworld. Francisco Chronicle, and Healing Butterflyist. In this issue, she brings us+(261) 2095 523 47 +(261) 3247 326 70 On sale 14 May 2012 See her photos of Sri Lanka on p48. Retreats and Spas. to Uganda (p80).
  3. 3. From the Road Regulars Insider 32 | Under the Radar: Kyrgyzstan 06 | Snapshots Feast on impressive photos from our 58 | Calendar A look at festivals and events happening A country blessed with dramatic landscapes, untouched readers around the world. around the world this Apr/May. nature and some of the most hospitable people in the world. 16 | Trip Ideas Ten ideas for desert trips - from the Sahara 110 | Stay Jordan’s stylish hot spring resort reinvents the 40 | Dispatches: Gabon to the Namib Desert. Middle Eastern bath experience. Witness the rare phenomenon of leatherback turtles nesting 112 | Travel Rant How much do stereotypes speak the 114 | Gear We recommend a list of travel gear and on tthe West African coast. truth? Mike Sowden muses, and rants, about busting electronics perfect for hiking this spring. 72 | Just Back: Inner Mongolia prejudices. Live like nomads in China’s secret province, Inner Mongolia. 113 | Travel Thoughts Our columnist Candace Rardon WIN 90 | Feast: South Korea ponders about the concept of ‘authentic’ travel. We conquer an army of street foods in Seoul to hunt down 116 | Sketches Darbur Square, Kathmandu, in watercolors. ! the best - and the most exotic. aO ne-W Car ee See Rent k pag al e8 9 Inner Mongolia, China p72 80 Uganda Seoul, South Korea p90Destination Features18 | MadagascarExplore the remote jungles, canyons andbizarre stone forests of the Great Red Island. Kyrgyzstan p3248 | Sri LankaAfter decades of civil war, we head back to 98 Uruguayfind renewed peace on the isle of Serendib. Tanzania p6060 | TanzaniaA photo essay of Africa’s Big Five on the 48 Sri Lankasavannahs of Serengeti.80 | UgandaHead into the wilderness of Uganda andcome face to face with the famous gorillas.98 | Travel Guide: UruguayWander through the colonial towns,windwept beaches and Gaucho landswith our comprehensive travel guide onUruguay. Madagascar 18
  4. 4. Lemaire Channel, Antarctica “ Imagine being the only person for thousands of miles. No lights, no noise, no airplanes, no wifi. Just you, your travel mates and several thousand penguins. After sailing down the Antarctic Peninsula, heading into the Lemaire Channel, it became apparent just how small we are in this vast world. The Lemaire Channel is also known as “The Kodak Gap” because of the stunning mountains, glaciers, and bright blue icebergs surrounding the narrow passageway – it’s almost impossible to take a bad photo. What made this morning particularly special though was how crystal clear it was outside (the mountain tops are usually veiled in clouds). - Meghan Palmer Send us your photos and the stories behind them to editor@wildjunket.com6 | WildJunket April/May 2012 | 7
  5. 5. Sacred Valley, Peru “ It was my first time in South America, and this visit to the Sacred Valley was one of the most defining moments of the trip. The Sacred Valley lies within the Andean mountain range, thousands of feet above sea level. It was easy to see just how skillful and disciplined the Incas were: agricultural terraces were etched so perfectly in the hills that they can still be used hundreds of years later. Buildings that were constructed with stones painstakingly dragged over long distances from neighbouring mountains, still stand, long after the hands that laid them had gone. - Alphis Tay8 | WildJunket April/May 2012 | 9
  6. 6. Kalahari, South Africa “ Near South Africa’s northern border with Namibia is an amazing research center for meerkats. Literally dozens of clans of meerkats live here as part of an Earthwatch volunteer project. This is where the hit series Meerkat Manor was filmed; a soap opera documentary that followed the lives of a meerkat clan over the course of three seasons and two movies. I was fortunate enough to join an Earthwatch volunteer team last year and spend a few weeks with these charming little creatures. Needless to say, the overall docile nature of these animals gave me ample opportunity to take plenty of beautiful photographs. This is one of my favorites and shows three meerkats in a typically vigilant stance. Dale is a multi-award winning photographer based in South Africa. To see more of his pictures visit - Dale Morris10 | WildJunket April/May 2012 | 11
  7. 7. Grand Canyon, Arizona “ The moment I arrived at the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, I was immediately taken back by this stunning geological display. My fear of heights was quickly overcome by a sense of amazement as I found myself surrounded by billions of years of history, compressed into giant gorges. Just before the park guides gestured for me to step away from the edge of the canyon, I snapped this picture of the Colorado River below, still bewildered at the powerful wonderful of Mother Nature. - Tracy Zhang12 | WildJunket April/May 2012 | 13
  8. 8. Negev Desert, Israel “ Israel  was one of the most surprising countries for me as a world traveler. Not only does the country offer unparalleled history and culture, it also features dramatic landscape, particularly attractive for desert-lovers like myself. In December 2007, on our way from Masada to the Red Sea (Eilat), we had the chance to drive through parts of the extensive Negev Desert. By sunset, we stopped at the north entrance of the Ramon Nature Reserve to visit the famous Makhtesh Ramon. Even though it looks like a meteor crater, it is actually a geological formation unique to the Negev desert. Unfortunately, we could only stay for an hour or so, but it was enough to fall in love with the view and its magnificent surrounding. Taking this picture was an easy task, I just had to click and nature did the rest!. - Mirella Matthiesen14 | WildJunket April/May 2012 | 15
  9. 9. Trip Ideas 10 Desert Experiences 5 4WD Adventures in the Outback, Australia 7 Learn the history behind the desert, Egypt 1 Trek through the Valley of the Moon, Chile Get a balance of the desert and sea on this 6 Celebrate the Festival of the Desert, Mali Experience one of the most extraordinary Go back in time with the Nile Valley and For adventurists, the Atacama Desert four-day Monkey Mia, Kalbarri and Pinnacles annual music events with this Festival of the Western Desert tour offered by World 7 Day Trek offered by Cascada trip offered by Adventure Tours that takes Desert tour offered by Kumuka. The journey Expeditions. Visit the legendary Giza Expediciones offers the unique chance you from the coast to the desert of Western brings you through three countries: Ghana, Pyramids, along with the Roman hot springs to trek and explore the unworldly Australia. Go sand boarding in Nambung Burkina Faso and Mali. Explore West Af- and stop at ancient temples and tombs that landscapes of Atacama Desert. From ricas largest market, sail the Niger River and National Park, where you’ll wander through once belonged to the ancient pharaohs while sunsets to sunrises, you’ll get to see stay with the Tuareg people after a camel the mysterious Pinnacle Desert, before cruising the majestic Nile River to Cairo. the beauty of the desert while trekking ride through the Sahara. The tour’s main through impressive rock formations of abseiling down Murchison Gorge in Kalbarri highlight is the three-day Festival of the The highlight of the tour is the desert: get the Cordillera de la Sal, up the cacti- NP. Then trade the sand for surf at Shark Bay and Desert that includes art expos, camel rides lost amidst the bizarre limestone formations studded slopes of Licancabur Volcano, swim with the famous local dolphins of Monkey and games. Note: there is a current travel of White Desert, climb the rose-red cliffs in while visiting historical places like the Mia. This trip truly gives you a diverse experience warning against Northern Mali; check FCO Dakhla Oasis and marvel at the green island of Fortress of Quitor and indigenous along WA’s Coral Coast. for current safety advice. Kharga Oasis in the ocean of sand. villages. Tour operator: Adventure Tours Tour operator: Kumuka Tour operator: World Expeditions Tour operator: Cascada Departures: twice a week year-round Departures: January Departures: September 2012 to April 2013 Departures: year-round Duration: 4 days Duration: 20 days Duration: 14 days Duration: 7 days Cost: US$685 (exc. flights) Cost: US$4,290.00 (exc. flights) Cost: from US$2,290 Cost: from US$2,190 (exc. flights)2 Wander through the world’s oldest desert, Namibia 4 Camp in yurts in Gobi’s Desert, Mongolia 8 Stargaze in the Sahara, Morocco 10 Live like a Bedouin, JordanWildlife and nature are the main attractions 3 Desert romance in the Thar, India On this TransIndus private tour, youll have Dive deep into the heart of Mongolia on this The Moroccan Sahara Escape tour offered by 9 From the desert to the coast, Oman Undiscovered Destinations’ From the Desert The Lawrence of Arabia’s Adventures touron this Dunes, Deltas and Falls tour offered the opportunity to truly develop a personal Discover the Gobi Desert trip with On The Go Specialist Morocco takes you on an exciting to the Coast tour is a short seven-day trip organized by Explore is an action-packedby G Adventures. This 21-day camping trip connection with the desert as you spend Tours. This one-of-a-kind tour allows you to journey on a 4x4 deep into the mystical packed full of local culture and history. Admire journey that’s excellent for families andstarts from Livingstone, Zambia, bringing two weeks traversing through the Thar experience the Gobi Desert, the second largest the architecture in the capital city of Muscat adventurous couples. You’ll get to explore Sahara Desert.Visit the UNESCO Worldyou through Botswana and Namibia to Cape desert in the world - through camel rides, train the legendary highlights of Jordan including in Rajasthan, India. The Desert Romance Heritage site Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou, before heading through the desert to meet theTown, South Africa. Not only will you see the journeys and history lessons. By incorporating the lost city of Petra, Kerak’s Crusader castle itinerary leads you on camel safaris through before heading into the desert on camelback green turtles in the sanctuary Ras al Hadd.Big Five from an overland truck, youll get to visits to the Natural History Museum, Gandan and the Dead Sea. Follow the footsteps of the sand dunes of Osian, jeep tours around monastery and Migjid Janraisag temple, youll Drive through the red and white dunes ofpaddle through the Okavango Delta, wonder and sleeping under the stars by night. You’ll Lawrence of Arabia, camping under the Rawla Narlai, boat rides on the Chambai have a well-rounded tour of the Gobi in just Wahiba Sands before visiting the 17th centuryat the magnitude of Victoria Falls, and most also head up to the Atlas mountains to stars in the Wadi Rum desert and learning River as well as visits to desert towns, Jain eight days. Highlights of the trip include Jabrin Castle and the Jebel Akdhar fort. Theimportantly, catch sunrise on the rose-red hike in the Toubkal National Park before about traditional life from local Bedouins. temples and havelis - all these in the comfort yurt camping, visits to the flaming cliffs of trip culminates with a hike in Jebel Shams, thesand dunes and visit the eerie Dead Vlei in the spending a night in a Berber village. Finally cool off from the heat in the clear of heritage hotels and historical mansions. Bayanzag and climbing the dunes of Moltsog ‘Grand Canyon of Oman’.world’s oldest desert. blue waters and coral reefs of the Red Sea. Tour operator: Transindus Els. Tour operator: Specialist MoroccoTour operator: G Adventures Tour operator: Undiscovered Destinations Tour operator: Explore Departures: mid-October to mid-March Tour operator: On The Go Tours Departures: from September to JuneDepartures: year-round Departures: March and October Departures: monthly year-round Duration: 16 days Departures: year-round Duration: 5 daysDuration: 21 days Duration: 7 days Duration: 9 days Duration: 8 days Cost: from US$639 (exc. flights) Cost: from US$5,550 (inc. flights from UK) Cost: US$1,780 (exc. flights) Cost: US$1,180 (exc. flights)Cost: from US$2,199 (exc. flights) Cost: from US$$5,468 (exc. flights)16 | WildJunket April/May 2012 | 17
  10. 10. The Lost IslandFrom endemic wildlife to bizarre stone forests and unexploredbeaches, remote Madagascar may just be one of Africa’s lastgreat unknowns. Words Nellie Huang | Photographs Alberto Molero18 | WildJunket April/May 2012 | 19
  11. 11. DESTINATION MADAGASCARI t was a tail. A very long, white jungle – and also the main draw for the of lemurs, and 6,000 different kinds of and bushy tail. It swung back and few intrepid travelers who make their endemic plants, including the bizarre forth in our direction, combing way to this remote isle each year. spiny ocotillo tree and the bottle- the breeze for our presence as we Most people come to Madagascar shaped baobab. slowly approached. Bending our to get a first-hand look at its unique Slightly bigger than California,backs and straining our eyes against wildlife, with the lemur as the headline Madagascar is the fourth largest islandthe sunlight, we watched as the ape- act. But as my photographer husband in the world. Stretching out overlike animal leapt from tree to tree and I traversed through Madagascar 3,100 miles (5,000 km) of untouchedtowards us. 30 feet, 15 feet, five feet. – from lemur-stalked Kirindy to the coastline, it features extremely diverse It was in full view now – all of its stone pinnacles Tsingy de Bemaraha, terrains and habitats: from thewhite furry body, long monkey limbs, and then on to the laid back beach dramatic mountains of the north towebbed feet and olive green eyes. Just town of Morondava – it was quickly pristine spearmint-blue beaches in theinches before us the creature curiously apparent there’s far more to see in this south; from green humid rainforests insniffed us out, with not the least bit of largely unexplored part of Africa. the east to the spiny forests of the west.apprehension. Sadly, Madagascar’s age of innocence A lemur. To be precise, a Verreaux’s Biodiversity Hotspot might be short-lived. With problemssifaka, which is also known as Marooned in the vast Indian Ocean, like civil unrest, corruption and over-a dancing lemur for its comical la Grand Île is home to an uncommon exploitation of resources plaguinglocomotion on the ground. This group of animals and plants found the country, the United Nationsprimate is one of the most popular nowhere else in the world. Most of Environment Programme (UNEP) haslemurs and definitely the weirdest. these have evolved after the island’s declared Madagascar’s ecosystem one Wild Spirit: Just 15 minutes into the Kirindy separation from the African continent of the most threatened in the world. A furry white VerrauxForest Reserve and we’d seen our 165 million years ago. Only in Lemurs are facing extinction as some Sifaka scrambles up a treefirst lemur. Here on the island of Madagascar can you find the world’s tribes in Madagascar continue to hunt Opposite: The terrain inMadagascar, lemurs are the stars of the biggest chameleons, over 70 species them for bush meat while patches of Southern Madagascar20 | WildJunket April/May 2012 | 21
  12. 12. DESTINATION MADAGASCAR DESTINATION MADAGASCAR Tsingy de Bemaraha: Our local park ranger crossing the bridge that spans across the rock pinnacles. less-trodden path. bathing themselves in the brackish national park is protected by ANGAP, “Resembling scenes out of a sci-fi movie, the stone At the end of the tormenting ride we arrived at the Tsiribihina River, a water, women dressed in colorful lambas crossing the river on their which had a series of wire railings put in place by a team of climbers and forest features jagged limestone pinnacles and major waterway that winds westwards through Madagascar, flowing over a pirogues (dugout canoes). By the time we got to the Bemaraha Mountains, researchers. Guided by a local park ranger, we needle-sharp peaks, some reaching up to 600 feet.” distance of 91 miles (146 km) into the Mozambique Channel. We waited for the last ebb of the sun had faded in the distance, and wispy clouds hung low clambered up the steel tracks and scrambled from one razor-sharp peak our turn to hop on the car ferry by the above our heads. We were moving at a to another, balancing our way in a less- crowded river banks. slow pace in Madagascar, but for once, than-fancy fashion. It’s no wonder thewild forests on the island are slowly Now that the island is slowly and rum-colored rivers. Villages and “Mora mora,” advised our guide we didn’t mind. Malagasies had aptly named the stonedisappearing due to illegal logging. regaining political stability, there is no people were few and far between. As Heri. Slowly, slowly. “In Madagascar, forest tsingy, meaning ‘tip-toe’. On the bright side, all is not lost – better time to return to the Great Red tarmac gave way to bare earth, it was things move slowly. You never know Spiky Peaks The trail brought us up steepseveral wildlife conservation groups Island. obvious we were seeping deeper into how long we need to wait. It can be The journey was well worth it: our limestone faces, through narrowsuch as World Wide Fund for Nature rural Africa. an hour or a whole day. So be patient, destination, the Tsingy de Bemaraha, winding canyons and sliding down(WWF) are working with Madagascar’s The Wild West Getting to Bemaraha was an just smile and wait.” Our stout, fit was nothing quite like anything I’d slick curves. As I scaled higher towardsANGAP (National Association for the The next morning at the crack of experience of its own. We plunged and and knowledgable guide always had seen. Resembling scenes out of a sci-fi the highest point of the tsingy, I lookedManagement of Protected Areas) to dawn, we made our way to the remote lurched for 60 miles (100 km) over wise words to share – he gave us a movie, the stone forest features jagged down and my head swirled in 360promote awareness and implement region of the Bemaraha Mountains. four hours on a treacherously bumpy deep glimpse into Madagascar and its limestone pinnacles and needle-sharp degrees. Luckily for the safety harnessmeasures. Locals are gradually coming They don’t call this the ‘wild west’ for trail flanked by thick, dense foliage. culture. peaks, some reaching up to 600 feet and the guide’s encouragement, Ito grips with the reality that their nothing. With few roads connecting Overland travel in Madagascar can be We spent the afternoon watching (200 meters) in height - a result of made it up to the peak, giddy withwealth is in their wildlife and natural here to the rest of the country, this brutal, especially on this part of the villagers go about their daily lives millions of years of rainwater lashes excitement.environment. Tourism is an integral hard-to-reach region is pockmarked island - but somehow the remoteness - men leading theirs herds of zebus and trickling of streams. Now a Below us was a blinding jumble -part to rebuilding the country. with robust baobab trees, red earth and inaccessibility made this feel like a (ox) along the marshy banks, children UNESCO World Heritage Site, the the chiseled karst stones poked out22 | WildJunket April/May 2012 | 23
  13. 13. Sunrise at Manambolo: Locals “Only in Madagascar can you find the world’s biggest chameleons, over glide by on a pirogue. Bottom (left to right): Thousand- 70 species of lemurs, and 6,000 different kinds of endemic plants.” year-old trees along the Avenue du Baobab; Scrambling down the jagged pinnacles of the tsingy.into the skies, vying for sunlight with vertiginous cliffs of limestone topped the tsingy lay vast, sandy plainspachypodium cacti; lemurs leapt from with karst rock pinnacles and trees. All punctuated with tall bottle-shapedone pointed needle to another; while was still except for the dancing light baobab trees whose branches soaredthe orange-brown Manambolo River on the water – and an odd wheezing sky-high, resembling roots in the air.snaked through lush emerald forests sound among the overhanging foliage. Heri insisted we catch the sunset alongin the distance. It was a vision of a It could have been a snake or a lemur, Avenue du Baobab, the island’s mostprimeval paradise. Most of all, we had but we glided into safety before the famous road lined with hundred-year-it all to ourselves. creature revealed itself. old baobabs. I, on the other hand, was At 5.30a.m. the next day, we arrived By the time we weaved our way unsure if I wanted to share the rareat the riverbank to see bats flitting midway into the gorge, the sun had solitude I’d found in Madagascar withabout in the pre-dawn haze. The river fired up the canyon, splashing its other tourists.would give us a different perspective of rays beyond the canopy of pinnacles. But as soon as we stood in thethe tsingy, Heri said. Why at this hour, I smiled at Heri, thankful for this shadow of the serendipitously alignedI protested. “You’ll soon find out.” spectacular sight - rising early sure was row of baobabs, I fell silent in awe. We hopped onto our pirogue, worth it. Heri was right again – this wasa water taxi of some sort in the something. Even in the light of day, theTsiribihina region. As we glided Baobab Nation dirt road had an ethereal atmospheresilently into the Manambolo Gorge, Back out on the muddy road, it was to it, especially so with the trees’the sandy riverbanks gave way to tall a different world again. Beyond silhouettes reflected in the water lily 1 5 Other wildlife watching spots Réserve Spéciale de L’ankàrana Located in northern Madagascar, this 45,109 acre (18,225 hectare) reserve is a patchwork of ruby-red tsingy, semi-dry forests, caves and subterranean rivers. It’s an excellent place to spot nocturnal sportive lemurs – don’t be surprised to find them popping their heads out of holes in the forest. 2 Parc National d’Andasibe-Mantadia This high-altitude rainforest on the island’s east coast is the best place to see the Indri, the largest lemur species. You’ll 4 Parc Nacional de Ranomafana As one of Madagascar’s most popular parks, Ranomafana is most famous for its green, luscious also find eight other species of lemur including the rare grey environment. In the 98,842 acre (40,000 hectare) misty cloud bamboo lemur, as well as Parson’s chameleons, Madagascar forest, you’ll have the chance to see two rare lemur species blue pigeons and long-eared owls. Listen out for the weird – the golden bamboo lemur and the greater bamboo lemur - howling of the Indri in the early morning. who make their home amidst waterfalls and rolling hills. 3 La Réserve Privée d’Anjajavy Accessible only by air on the remote northwestern coast, Anjajavy promises the most prolific collection of 5 Anja Reserve Anja Reserve is the most visited community managed forest and is famed for its dense population of ring-tailed wildlife from chameleons to the Coquerel’s sifaka and the lemurs. Situated 8 miles (13 km) south of Ambalavao, the elusive Fossa. Cut off from the rest of the isle, this reserve is reserve is easily accessible via the National Route 7. The truly untouched and well worth the journey. reserve entrance fees go to the local Malagasy community.24 | WildJunket April/May 2012 | 25
  14. 14. DESTINATION MADAGASCAR DESTINATION MADAGASCAR When asked why Madagascar of all places, he pointed out to the view Explore Offbeat Village Life - Manafiafy Southern Madagascar is sprinkled with ahead of us and said, “Look at this, how can you not fall in love?” secluded offshore islets and steeped in Madagascar tribal traditions. Go whale watching, deep sea fishing or visit a castaway ponds beneath and locals trotting past on their zebu carts. melodious series of “Tonga Soa”. Welcome. We threw off our backpacks, Baholy. When asked why Madagascar of all places, he pointed out to the view Sandstone Canyons of Isalo island and wander through local At sunset, the dramatic scene took left our hiking boots behind and ahead of us and said, “Look at this, Without the ring-tailed lemurs you’d villages. There’s also a whole world of on even more theatrical dimensions: headed straight for the waves. how can you not fall in love?” never guess this is Madagascar. The forest reserves and mangroves excellent as the giant orange yolk sank over the Overlooking the Mozambique Over the next few days we kicked brown sandstone gorges of Isalo National for nocturnal lemur and bird-watching. canopy of baobabs, the color of the sky Channel, Morondava bakes in a strong back and enjoyed a different side to Park resemble those of the Grand Canyon Experience all of it at the exclusive shimmered and dazzled - changing Caribbean light and its people groove Madagascar. A sunset pirogue ride and they promise superb hiking with a Manafiafy Beach and Rainforest to a similar tune. Its wide sandy beach in the nearby mangroves yielded from bright vermillion to gentle range of trails that vary in difficulty. Two Lodge where you can explore the runs for miles alongside a strip of impressive bird watching opportunities area with a naturalist, relax in your mandarin, and eventually a shade of boutique lodges near Ranohira provide clapboard houses and beach bars. from the blue-throated kingfishers to first-world comforts and cuisine: Relais Baobab Galore in Ifaty luxurious thatched bungalow and enjoy gold. The fascinating transformation Just 164 miles (265 km) from Isalo is from day to night took place in a sheer On the dark blue waters, fishermen egrets and herons; we made friends de la Reine and Jardin du Roy. Both a true Robinson Crusoe experience. the beach town of Ifaty, famed for its cast nets against the backdrop of with local fishermen on the nearby isle boast European lodge décor and a lavish (Prices start from US$318 per person matter of minutes – and yet, it stayed baobab reserves more than the beach. per night). coconut palms swaying their fronds of Betania and watched them catch teak wood setting. (Room rates from deeply imprinted in my memories. US$105 per night) The coast is excellent for snorkeling like Rastafari dreads. By the white giant tilapias; and on a chirpy Saturday, and diving, especially for sharks. But shoreline, local women sashay in their we wandered through the colorful the nearby Renialia Nature Reserve Beach Bumming colorful lambas with buckets of fresh local market and chatted with friendly is the main attraction - with its Through the dusty dirt roads of the fish on their heads. locals. 1,200-year-old baobabs, bizarre spiny west, we reached the breezy winds It’s a view that many would kill to It was beautiful, but like everywhere forests and resident spiders, scorpions and laid back vibes of Morondava. have as their daily backdrop, and Gary else in Madagascar, it was the solitude and hedgehogs. To kick back, the lavish After days of hiking, kayaking and waterfront bungalows at Le Paradisier Lemmer is one of the lucky few to call that struck me most. While the forest-trekking, we felt in need of this home. Having lived and worked in improved political situation might see promise tranquility, comfort and an atmospheric backdrop. (Room rates some relaxation and found it at the several parts of Africa, Gary decided an increase in travelers, until then, this from US$86 per night). beachside lodge, Chez Maggie. to settle in Madagascar and now runs wildly remote island remains hidden Upon arrival, we were met by a Chez Maggie with his Malagasy wife, and lost in its own world. 126 | WildJunket April/May 2012 | 27
  15. 15. DESTINATION MADAGASCAR (3-hour journey; return airfares from TRIP DETAILS US$900). The total journey times are The author traveled with Remote River around 20 hours from North America and Expeditions – Madagascar on a tailor- total return airfare starts from US$2,000. made trip. The six-day trip departs and ends in Morondava. Three to six-day custom programs are available from + Getting around Domestic flights on Air bungalows and a luxurious swimming Madagascar are the most feasible way of May to November. Prices start from pool overlooking the stone forest. Room exploring the island, as they’re fast and US$420 per person, with breakfasts, rates start from 35,000 MGA (US$16) for relativelycheap as compared to renting a dinners, transportation (on a 4x4), a single room to 60,000 MGA for doubles car or booking a tour. They range from accommodations, park entry fees and (US$28). US$250 to $350 each way. Public transport an English-speaking naturalist guide Madagascar’s Wildlife: (Clockwise from top left) is neither efficient nor comfortable. Chez Maggie stands out for its cozy, included. International airfare, lunches However, if you’re on a budget and have homely setting and beachfront location and drinks are at your own expense. time to spare, the taxi-brousse can be an – with private bungalows, spacious two- Gentle Spikes: A baby hedgehog curled interesting way to explore the island from up in Renialia Nature Reserve. Curious Eyes: A red-fronted lemur ú When to go October and November is the best a local perspective. story chalets, a swimming pool and the best restaurant in town. Room rates start from 88,000 MGA (US$41). observes us from a tree. time to visit as temperatures are mild and Since certain parts are very remote and roads are still accessible. Avoid the rainy desolate, the only way to get around Dancing Lemur: A Verraux Sifaka hangs from a branch. Birds of Paradise: The Paradise season (January to March) as there is a high risk of cyclones and some roads can sometimes after flying there is to rent a car. In Madagascar, car rental usually Ö Cost of travel The currency used in Madagascar be inaccessible due to the rain. In general, comes with a driver – hiring without is the Malagasy ariary (MGA). Currently Flycatcher adds color to Kirindy Forest. there is an extreme temperature difference one tends to be more expensive. Car hire the exchange rate is at US$1 to 2,163 Colored Creatures: A Warty Chameleon between the hauts plateaux (central prices vary according to the duration of MGA. Prices are cheap in Madagascar camouflages on a light brown branch. highlands) and the coast. Summer sees rental and the type of vehicle but generally but tours, private transportation and Carnivore Alert: The ferocious fossa, temperatures rising to a sweltering 104°F ( range from US$60 for a small car to US$80 hotel prices can be costly like in other Madagascar’s only predator. 40°C) along the coast while Antananarivo for a 4x4. parts of Africa. Hotel room rates are and the highlands can get as low as very affordable in most parts of the Cobalt Sweetness: A beautiful Malachite Kingfisher in Morondava’s mangroves. Locust Pocus: Multi-colored locust in 46°F (8°C) come winter (December to February). W Accommodation Due to the remoteness of certain country, ranging from US$18 to US$100. Restaurant prices will also suit most budgets, from a simple local dish for 4,300 parts of Madagascar, there are few Isalo. If you’re planning to travel in the central accommodation choices except in the MGA (US$2) to a European meal costing highlands, be sure to bring warm clothes around 17,000 MGA (US$8). capital. Options in the island’s more regardless of the season as temperatures far-flung corners can range from basic are around 59°F (15°C) even in the summer. The coastal areas are generally hot year round, although it can be nippy at wooden huts to high-end luxury resorts. Sakamanga Hotel, located in the heart of V PackingWeather can be extreme regardless of the time of year so bring clothing to fit night in the winter. Antananarivo’s old town, features colorful, all seasons. In winter, you’ll need a fleece eclectic rooms of varying size and price. and a thick winter coat, especially if you ! Getting there A lack of direct flights to Room rates start from 52,000 MGA (US$24). plan to travel in the central highlands. In summer, bring a few layers such Antananarivo makes it tricky to find singlets, long-sleeved shirts and a light Kirindy Reserve Bungalows is the only cheap airfare, especially from the US. The jacket for the cool nights. Take sunglasses accommodation available in the forest best way to reach Antananarivo involves and sunscreen, especially in summer. reserve. Although the wooden huts are flying to either Paris or to Johannesburg Binoculars are essential. basic with few facilities, they give you the and taking a connecting flight on to Ivato real experience of ‘sleeping in a forest’. International Airport. Air Madagascar and Air France fly three to four times weekly from Paris to Antananarivo (13-hour Room rates start from 37,000 MGA (US$17).   M Websites Here are some helpful links journey; return airfares from US$1,300). L’Olympe du Bemaraha is one of the Madagascar National Tourism Board Air Madagascar also flies twice weekly most upscale hotels near the Tsingy Parcs Madagascar from Johannesburg to Antananarivo de Bemaraha with lavish teak wood Lonely Planet Madagascar28 | WildJunket April/May 2012 | 29
  16. 16. AdvertorialUltimate Madagascar:A River Expedition Along the MangokyRivers, rainforests and highlands: explore theisland of contrasts with Remote River Expeditions Photos by Norman KingI solated for millions of years in contrasting terrains and habitats: from Featured in the book 1,000 Places Highlights of the trip the Indian Ocean, Madagascar’s the central highlands to the humid to Visit Before You Die by Patricia • 7-day calm water rafting flora and fauna has evolved in rainforests in the east, dry sandstone Schultz, this is a world-class river such a unique way that 18th cliffs in the west and bizarre karst • Andasibe Rainforest Reserve and camping experience. With expert century French explorer Philippe forests in the north. • Kirindy Forest Reserve naturalist guides to lead the way andde Commerson described the island To experience all of it in one trip, • Avenue of the Baobabs an experienced cook to prepare mealsas "the naturalists promised land”. He Remote River Expeditions has specially over an open fire, this expedition is an • Scuba-diving in Ifatywrote, "Nature seems to have retreated designed a program, Mangoky River, excellent mix of adventure, culture and • Hotel Stay in Morondavathere into a private sanctuary where Rainforest & West, which brings you onshe could work on different models a touch of luxury in the wilderness. • Expert English-speaking an action-packed adventure across thefrom any she used elsewhere." naturalists/guides country. Although much has changed on Float past the world’s largest baobab Dates: May 23 - Jun 09, 2012 • Maximum 10 peopleMadagascar since the 18th century, it forest, catch magnificent sunsets along • Includes all river and camping Duration: 18-Daysremains a true naturalist’s paradise. the river banks, spot a wide myriad equipmentNo Amazon jungle can beat the of lemurs, birds and bats and go on Cost: $3,340 (exc. flights) • 4WD transportationdiversity and uniqueness of species to hikes and nocturnal walks - the Single Supplement: $210be found here. Besides outstanding multi-activitiy itinerary of this 18-day For more details, check 13 & 15-Day Programs also availablewildlife, Madagascar also boasts expedition will bring you through a Remote River Expeditions.extreme biodiversity - featuring very great variety of ecosystems.30 | WildJunket April/May 2012 | 31
  17. 17. At Home in Kyrgyzstan This Central Asian country has dramatic mountain landscapes, pristine nature and outstanding trekking opportunities - but it’s the people who make it an experience you’ll never forget.woRds and photos by NATASHA VON GELDERN32 | WildJunket April/May 2012 | 33