TIA – This is Africa


TIA. We first heard this phrase at our 2017 starting point in Madagascar, and then repeatedly in other parts of Africa. Typically, local people used the phrase by way of an explanation when something failed to work, or to explain …

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Madagascar: What we saw


Madagascar is a country of strong contrasts, all of which we were privileged to observe during our six weeks stay in most of Madagascar’s varied regions. It has a diverse, beautiful landscape over a territory 2.5 times size of England …

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Tiny Treasures at Isalo


“To see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower, Hold infinity in the palms of your hand and eternity in an hour.” – William Blake Visitors come to Isalo National Park in the south …

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The Indelicate Art of Paper Making


Hundreds of years ago the Antemoro people of southern Madagascar – Arabic in origin – began to make a form of papyrus paper decorated with real flowers. The art was revived by the French in the 20th century and thrives …

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Tsingys and furrows of outrageous limestone


We’ve frequently seen the shape-shifting nature of both limestone and lava rock, the one deposited by the sea and compressed into stone, the other spewed from deep undergound and cooled into rock. What is now viewable of these – the …

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Rough riding


We’ve been on some very rough roads by car, but the one we took in the north of Madagascar was as bad as they get. India’s Himalayan routes are frequently blocked with avalanches, or at minimum regularly inundated with rocks. …

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Make that two scoops of vanilla


We were walking the trail past village rice paddies, gleaming with soon to be harvested grains in the valley below Marojejy National Park. From the outlying fields, two men carried large potato sacks back to town, perhaps 25 kg or …

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Marojejy and its spirits


Marojejy is one of the most impressive national parks in Madagascar, with 55,000 hectares of primary rainforest, green mountains, spectacular views and twisting trails mounting over roots and rocks. It is one of six parks collectively designated UNESCO World Heritage …

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Toasting the royals at Ambohimanga


On the highest of several thickly forested hills, the first ruler of the whole of Madagascar established his capital in 1793, after he unified the various island realms of the Malagasy people into a kingdom. This modestly-sized, thick-walled complex capped …

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Ascending: Up on the hills of Tana


The capital of Madagascar, Antananarivo (or Tana, as it is locally known), occupies 12 sacred hills, even more than Rome. The hills are linked to the surrounding plains about 200 meters below and to each other with a complex network …

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