by Carl Fallon
3 flights and close to 24 hours later we arrive at night on a tiny island a world away from home. Worlds away in more than just one way. After settling in we sit down outside our new homes for a night cap and the last sound you expect to hear is a hauling, raging through the trees. Come on people, we are in Madagascar! The home of the lemurs… Definitely a unique part of the world.
Amazingly, about Ninety percent of the plants and animals are endemic to the island of Madagascar, meaning that they have evolved there and nowhere else. So everywhere you look from the trees to the insects living on them, there are freak evolutions that will amaze you. After spending 2 weeks on the island, you cant help but think if Charles Darwin landed on Madagascar before Galapagos, the theory of evolution would be re-written based on the unique evolutions found here.
We started off the diving expedition 16 divers strong, with our first stop being Nosy Be, one of the islands more popular beach and diving holiday locations. It is a small island chain in the top north-eastern side of Madagascar mainland. We stayed at Sakatia Lodge, where we stayed for 7 days. The accommodation was typical island resort style, we rustic styled rooms, which were clean and very comfortable. Nestled amongst the lemur filled trees, each bungalow was close enough to easily walk to but far enough to each have their own space. Great layout and definitely made you feel like you where on holidays!
The diving was nice and easy coral reef diving, which is definitely accessible to all levels of divers. I think being spoilt by living in Australia with the Great Barrier Reef and the coral triangle on our doorstep our expectations of the diving where pretty high. To be honest the diving didn’t exceed our expectations, but definitely made the trip worthwhile. The operation was very well setup with unique dive boats with stern platforms lowered to water level. Which were perfect for entries and exits in the calm Malagasy waters. The dive guides and boat crew went out of their way to ensure that each person was taken care of and made you feel like you where on holidays. Each time we returned to the resort, you just needed to grab your personal items and walk on off, leaving all the tanks carrying to the locals. Perfect!
One of highlights while staying at Sakatia was definitely the Beach Party. The resort owners arranged a fantastic festive lobster and fish BBQ with a large bonfire on the sandy beach. Everyone had their own beach lounge chairs, which made for some amazing star-gazing. It really was a magical time. We also had traditional face painting, which was made not so traditional by me requesting to have it done. Apparently I found out later it was reserved only for females. Bahahaha… Oh well… I always like to push the boundaries of tradition.
After our week at Nosy Be, we then travelled inland to Antananarivo (AKA Tana for all of us who cant pronounce its real name). From there we went on 4 day land tour of the region to explore many of the famous national parks in search of the unique flora and fauna it was famous for. A few Chameleons, Lemurs, gators and weird insects later, we returned to the airport to transfer to our next destination: Zambia and Victoria Falls.
We only had a few days here, so it was truly a flurry of adventure and fun. We stayed at the Zambezi Sun Hotel overlooking Victoria Falls, which was one of the coolest places I have stayed. When arriving there where a family of Giraffes greeted us near the check-in lobby, and Zebra were herding in the grounds surrounding the accommodation. It was like something out of the movies.
In the short time we where there, we went white water rafting and also did an unforgettable sunset cruise along the raging Zambezi River. Went on a low-level helicopter flight down Victoria Falls and through the canyon we rafted. I ran across the armed guarded bridge through the boarder into Zimbabwe, went on a hour long walk with 2 lions and had lots of cocktails and beers at the poolside bar while listening to live music played nightly. 🙂 Wow… What a mouth full. All in all some of the best days of my life.
The next week took us through South Africa’s world famous Kruger National Park region where we went of safari in search of the Big 5. We got 4, with the leopard being as elusive as we had predicted. We played with lions, bumped heads with rhinos, stared in the eyes of MASSIVE water buffalo and felt the wind from the flapping ears of wild elephant. Very cool indeed.
At the conclusion of our trip, the start felt a lifetime away; with so much excitement, adventure and experience packed in-between. We started as 16 individual divers but finished as an unbeatable team of explorers and adventurists. This trip was one I will remember forever and the friendships I made will last just as long. I am so grateful to have been able to share this experience with so many fantastic people and cant wait to do it all again soon with my next major trip to the Galapagos Islands in 2014… To book and save your place, check out the Abyss Scuba Diving web page or contact me for more details. email@example.com
Check out our full trip album on our Facebook page.
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