North Madagascar, September 2011

The final leg of my Malagasy journey has taken me to the north – an area that reminds me in several ways of the Swahili coast of nearby East Africa. Spice traders once sailed these waters collecting the bounty of cloves, peppercorns and Madagascan vanilla beans that are still renowned the world over.  The legacy of trade has left Arabic influences in the north and legendary stories of pirates who terrorized these seas in centuries past.  I have downed the backpack for the past week to sink my toes into the white sands of a little island off the North-east of Madagascar and to do some diving in the Mozambique Channel.  The turquoise waters are still relatively unspoiled and mainly plied now by local fishing outriggers and little Arabic-style dhow sailing boats.  Although the sections of reef are patchy there are superbly colourful hard and soft corals, massive Gorgonian sea fans and an array of anemones like I’ve never seen before.  Although the travelling has been challenging at times here, all the troubles are quickly forgotten with another smouldering Madagascan sunset, a grilled lobster and a beer on the beach (all for less than $15!).

As I close this chapter of travel I will look back most fondly on the wildlife in Madagascar – after hiking and diving my way through 9 National Parks / Reserves.  I remain most enthralled by the humble chameleon – once unmasked from their hiding places they reveal themselves in all shapes, sizes and colours.  From almost 2 feet in length down to a miniscule 1cm in size – a perfect miniature that could balance on my fingertip!  Such a fascinating creature they may well entice me back to Madagascar one day to continue the Chameleon Chronicles!  Veloma!

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