The bewitching Far South of Madagascar
If you wish to experience a rare and mythical journey, the crossing between Tulear and Fort Dauphin by the coast is one of these exceptional raids that we like to share with you. This unique itinerary follows the unusual and secret trails of Madagascar's far south and the encounters in these distant lands are authentic, often picturesque and humanly very strong. The large dunes of Androka, which undulate as far as the eye can see, led us in April 2016 to the home of an old woodcarver, a specialist in Mahafaly funeral art.
This old man perpetuates rituals and customs by sculpting the different kinds of Aloalo and statues that decorate the funeral tombs of this ethnic group. His works, so characteristic of the region, symbolize the earth and the sky, the real and the imaginary and also the Ancestors and the living. Of great spiritual value, Aloalo represents one of the fundamental pillars of Mahafaly culture. As travellers, we are invited to experience the sacred and timeless with respect. In the past, these burial sites were hidden, secret and few people had access to them. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case today. Our role is also to encourage respect for these places and not to trade in these pieces, which have a very high symbolic value. Continuing on our trail, the crossing of the Menarandra River is, in itself, a unique adventure.
The dry bed leads us to the territory of the Antandroy ethnic group, which is very arid, difficult to cultivate and the population lives mainly on extensive sheep and cattle breeding. We cross prickly pear forests with sharp thorns that leave lasting memories on the sides of our Toyota. On the ground, between the stones of the track, vigilance is essential: magnificent radiated turtles, endemic to southern Madagascar, move nonchalantly. No doubt, we are in the heart of the "Land of Thorns", the driest region of Madagascar.
The many species of Didieréacées are there to testify to this. Gradually, vegetation and the environment change. At the Andohahela Reserve, we find the junction of three specific types of biotopes; arid bush, semi-arid forest and dense humid forest, which, south of the Tropic of Capricorn, is rather rare. A little further east, the transition is sudden. We cross a ridge line under magnificent flaming lights and, in front of us, a wide green valley opens up. The Anosy region marks the transition to a new natural and human environment. Here, mountains flow into the sea, powerful rivers bleed the landscape before reaching the Indian Ocean. With each trip, we feel the same feeling in front of these elements, an incredible feeling of quiet strength. Fort-Dauphin or Tolagnaro is nestled at the foot of Pic Saint Louis, facing the Indian Ocean. The tranquility of this provincial city is soothing, conducive to a healthy rest after this beautiful escape. We are 1,122 km as the crow flies from Tana, the capital perched on the Highlands.
Tolo and Faly's journey and story
Written by Sylvain ©Détours Madagascar 2016
Trips through the arid land of thorns and lush primary forests: The great trip to the Far South of Tulear Madagascar > Fort Dauphin > Manakara > Antananarivo 16 days - From 1250 € off flight. The splendours of the Great Malagasy South Antananarivo > Isalo > Tulear > Fort Dauphin 16 days - From 1245 € off flight.