Today we woke up at 3:45 am to catch our flight from Cape Town to Antananarivo, Madagascar. We had a short layover in Johannesburg, and then headed out into the Indian Ocean toward Madagascar. We arrived at around 2:00pm (we gained an hour) and met our driver, Rado, outside. He is going to drive us all around Madagascar for 11 days. It’s cheaper to hire a driver here than to rent a car, if you can believe it.
We were very glad we had a driver once we saw the roads. The city is incredibly busy (over 1 million people) with no road signs or lanes. Rado has lived here his entire life and has been a tour guide for 15 years. He navigated the traffic with ease.
After dropping off Rado’s wife near their house (she was waiting for us with Rado at the airport), we headed out of the city.
Our destination was Andasibe-Mantadia National Park which was ~130 km away. We figured it would be a couple hour drive. We drove about an hour, mostly waiting in traffic to get out of the city. Then Rado told us it would be about a 4 hour drive to our hotel in Mantadia National Park. We were shocked that it was going to take so long. But we soon found out that Madagascar’s roads are quite bad. Plus, it is an extremely mountainous region and the roads to our destination were constantly winding up and down mountains.
I was surprised at the landscape here. It is very hilly with houses build up along the sides and all the flat lands used for farming, at least on the west coast. It’s very green everywhere and Jay is loving taking pictures of the colorful houses scattering the hills.
We arrived to our hotel at about 8:00 pm. We were pretty exhausted. Rado is quite the professional though. He is basically a driver, tour guide, and travel agent all in one. He pre-booked us a hotel for the night which was a beautiful eco lodge for ~$25/night. Plus he’s arranged tour guides for us in three different areas of the national park tomorrow.
We had a quick dinner at the lodge and went to get some much needed rest for the night.