Sunday, February 21, 2016

Tour de Sud


            For those of you that have been following my blog you know that I recently completed a bike ride along the south eastern coast of Madagascar, from Vangindrano to Fort Dauphin.  This of course, for me, was the most epic part of my travels during the holiday season, but it was far from the end of them.  The rest of my travels during the holiday took me all the way around the southern tip of the island in a big circle ending back at home (see picture below).  During this trip I was able to see the southern most point of Madagascar, visit the sites of a few other volunteers, see the spiny forest,
travel across multiple different terrains in multiple types of transportation, and check a lot of different things off my Madagascar Bucket List. 
            The whole trip started, of course, with the bike ride from Vangindrano to Fort Dauphin (you may read about it in a previous post here: ‘The Hardest Bike Ride Ever Bike Ride!’).  Once in Fort Dauphin we met up with some other volunteers that had also traveled there for the Christmas holiday.  We spent the next few days exploring the town and hanging out on the beach; enjoying the amazing view of the ocean banked by the mountains of the Corridor.  On the night of Christmas Eve a few of us went to a Christmas buffet at one of the nice Hotels in town and it was amazing.  Buffets are not common here in Madagascar so when we as volunteers happen across one, we take full advantage and it was amazing.  Christmas day itself was another lazy day of hanging out by the beach with another fancy dinner at a hotel over looking the bay with, reportedly, the best chef in Madagascar. 
            The day after Christmas, a bunch of us got on a cameon and started our trip southwest towards Tsiombe, the site of the most southern volunteer.  Having made it only to Ambovombe, about halfway, we broke down and had to spend the night.  Luckily for us there is a volunteer that lives there and although she was not home at the time she allowed us to stay at her house.  The following day we rented a truck to take us first to Tsiombe to drop of our extra baggage, basically just my broken bike, and then down south to Faux Cap.  In Faux Cap, the southern most point of Madagascar, we hungout in the ocean and looked for Elephant Bid egg shells on the beach.  The Elephant Bird, standing at 10’ high, once lived on the southern coast of Madagascar but was killed off by the early inhabitants of this area.  Although they were not hunted to extinction because they were seen as reincarnations of their ancestors, the early inhabitants had no qualms with eating their eggs.  Even though the bird is now extinct you can still find patches of beach that are littered with its egg shells.  On our return to Tsiombe I also bought an Elephant Bird egg that was pieced together with fragments of egg shells.
            After spending the night in Tsiombe I got on another cameon and made the multi-day trip to Toliar; arriving in Toliar on the morning of New Years Eve.  Almost the entirety of the trip was along a dirt road lined by the spiny forest and baobab trees.  There being no brousses traveling on New Years Eve or day I spent those two days exploring the town and trying the food.  Toliar has, by far, the best ice cream in the county.  The day after New Years I caught a brousse for Fianar and then home to the Sud Est; completing the entire southern circle. 


Fort Dauphin
Yes the background is real!





Deep South
Cameon across the South



Road to Faux Cap


Hissing cockroach

Roadside vendors


Spiny forest
Tondroy tomb


 Toliar






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