Crater Bay

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”

Henry Miller

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We spent two months in Madagascar and used Crater Bay as our base.  Crater Bay has a nice calm anchorage with a dinghy dock, a small yacht club and a short walk into town.  The yacht club frequently organises events for the cruisers in the area, whether its a pork spit roast, telecast of important football or rugby events or just evening sun-downers.

Most days the kids would rush to finish their school work so they could meet their friends ashore to play cards, hang man, play with a litter of puppies or walk into town.

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A short walk into town and you have a daily fresh market selling fruit and vegetables, hairdressers, restaurants and small supermarkets.  One of the things Andrew loved about Madagascar is the lack of plastic and therefore lack of rubbish.  You have to take your own bags and you can buy cheap bags woven from banana or palm leaves.  The other great thing is the friendly locals who always smile and wave.  Everybody sings and/or plays music and you hear it as you walk past a shop or house. The evening and weekends you often see women braiding each others or kids hair and chatting. The local kids make their own toys out of what they can find lying around.

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The main street into town, very navigable during the day not so easy at night, definitely need a torch.

You do have to watch out for the bullocks pulling carts of supplies as you wander the streets.  An interesting fact: they steer the bullocks right or left by squeezing the right or left testicle.  Ouch!

What better way to wake up in the morning to the sound of the fisherman singing as they go about their day.  I also love the fact that they reuse everything, old fabric is stitched together to make a sail for their boat.

Its amazing how much they can fit in a boat, whether its people, food or hardware.  Its a beautiful sight at dusk seeing the boats sailing.

Have I convinced you to stop in Madagascar for a visit?

Nosy Komba

19/9/2015

Nosy Komba also called Nosy Ambariovato is a small volcanic island that lies on the north-west coast of Madagascar.  The name Nosy Komba means the island surrounded by rocks.  There are no cars or electricity on the island, the only way to get around the island is via boat or canoe and it is home to about 4 000 people.  It is also home to the black lemur or Macacao species, where the male is black and the female is brown with white tufts on the head.

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Local transport around the island

We motor sailed from Hellville to Nosy Komba to spend a few days in this tranquil spot.  The island has many small local restaurants and mainly hostel style accommodation.  We went ashore in the afternoon to see if we could organise a trip for the following day to see the lemurs and have a little look around.

 

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Very simple housing with dirt streets.
Lots of kids throughout the village going about their daily lives
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The local women make their own crafts that they sell to the tourists in particular the hand made lace tablecloths.

Having organised the guided walk for the morning we headed back to our dinghies, where Andrew showed the kids how to drum on Momo’s dinghy.  This elicited much laughter from the kids.

20/9/2019 – LEMURS!!!

We met our local guide bright and early to walk into the forest to see the lemurs, there was lots of excited chatter on the way.  The guide spoke quite good English and showed us the various plants grown on Nosy Komba like vanilla that Max is sniffing in the photo, bananas, pineapple and also a bright green lizard he spotted. 

There was great excitement at our first sighting of lemurs followed by Ava’s ‘he’s so cute.’  We were given small pieces of banana to feed them and soon as they spotted the juicy treat they would leap to your shoulder. Both kids and parents were enthralled and amused with their antics.

We were all entertained by the lemurs, although the males had a rather unpleasant odour as Andrew discovered.

It was not only the lemurs that entertained us on the walk but also a chameleon that our guide spotted.

I think its fair to say the kids were pretty amazed with the chameleon.

After our forest walk there is a small sanctuary area where they have some of the giant Seychelle tortoises.  The kids went into the enclosure and gave them a good scratch.

For those who opted too you could hold a boa constrictor, Max was having none of it, but Tristan and the girls enjoyed it, although Jana looks a bit panicked in the photo.

We came to a tortoise enclosure and Max, Ava and Jana eagerly held one each.  I love the photo of Ava when she realises the tortoise is peeing on her and its the third time today its happened, first a lemur, then a boa constrictor and then a tortoise, she took it all in her stride though.

Just before finishing our tour our guide found another chameleon and we were once again entranced. 

Our walk back to the dinghy took us through the village where the friendly locals were going about their daily lives.

We had a fabulous time and a trip I would highly recommend it to anyone if you find yourself in Madagascar.

Tourist Information for Nosy Komba

There is a website on Nosy Komba with lots of information either click on the link or use the following website: http://www.nosykomba.com/en/

A big thank you to Michelle from Momo who took some of the photos on this page.

 

 

Lemuria Land Parc

Lemuria Land Park is located about 10 minutes from Hellville and opened to the public in 2010.  The park is set in 8 hectares of botanical gardens featuring endemic flora species of not only Nosy Be, but all of Madagascar.  It provides the opportunity to see a wide range of lemurs that are found throughout Madagascar as well as other fauna like boa constrictors, chameleons, geckos and Nile crocodiles.  There is also a ylang ylang distillery on the grounds, which if your lucky enough may be processing during your visit.

We are not big on visiting zoos, but after having seen the black lemurs on Nosy Komba we were keen to see the other species of lemur that are not from Nosy Be, namely the ring tailed lemur made famous in the movie Madagascar.  So we spent a few hours with our friends from ‘Momo’ at the Lemuria Park.

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Not sure if these guys are aggressive, but they are kept separate from the other lemurs on their own island.  Amazing how the Dreamworks movie put Madagascar on the map.

There are many lemurs wandering freely around the park who are very accustomed to humans, while others are kept in enclosures.

The two photos on the left are of the black lemurs and the one on the right is of the white-collared brown lemur, notice the baby wrapped around its middle.

Andrew in particular liked the cockeral Sifaka, which are known as the big jumpers.

While the main draw-card to visit the park is to see the lemurs, there are other species worthy of seeing and will definitely interest kids.  You can have a boa constrictor wrapped around you.  This was a big lure for our reptile loving son, Tristan.  I love Ava’s face in the photo below.

There are also Nile crocodiles in pits, the babies are kept separate from the parents so they don’t end up as dinner.

While riding turtles at zoos is no longer done in western countries, younger kids may enjoy sitting on the back of one of the giant turtles from the Seychelles.

And of course you can’t miss the chameleons if you can spot them.

Perhaps more of interest to parents or teens is the Ylang-ylang distillery which missionaries started back in 1889 and where you can see the distillation process. Also nearby is a rhumerie where you can sample some of the run.

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Tourist Information for Lemuria Land Parc

Opening Hours:

  • Monday – Saturday: 8.30 am to 5 pm
  • Sunday: 8.30 am to 1 pm

Prices:

  • Adults: 45 000 Ariary
  • Children (5 to 12 years), residents with ID, Malagasy: 10 000 ariary
  • Children under 5: free

For further information click on the link or visit the following website: https://www.lemurialand.com/

Halloween on Honey River

We have spent most of the year travelling with American, Canadian and one English boat, so it makes sense that the kids wanted to celebrate Halloween.  We did it early as it was the last time all the boats would be together.

Our last night in Honey River the kids had a fantastic time creating their costumes, by borrowing things from each other to come up with something.  At dusk the excited kids and teens embarked on their trick or treating around the anchorage in dinghies.  There were some interesting costume choices, namely Tristan’s or Tristinas.  Tristan and Lola decided to go as cheerleaders.  Yes its surprising that a boy dressed up as a girl, but what was also surprising was to see Lola in both girl colours and a skirt.  Lola’s normal attire is dark pants and long shirts. The kids received an array of treats, basically anything sweet people had on board, after being in the Indian Ocean for so many months no one had a lot.

Hermione and Max the tourist on the left and the cheerleaders on the right

During the kids scary movie marathon the adults congregated on Morning Glory for snacks and drinks.

Moramba Bay

We spent a few days down in Moramba bay, we visited a little village where the kids ran up to meet us as we came ashore, unfortunately they spoke no English or French, just their local language, so communication was difficult, but there was a lot of smiling and waving. 

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Look at those gorgeous faces!

These guys have so little, so we all collected clothing our kids had outgrown, sheets, toys, empty jars and donated them to the village.

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We didn’t do a lot during our stay, unfortunately Andrew had terrible gout from all the crab he ate while we were at Honey River and could barely move.  We did have locals visit our boats to trade crabs, prawns and some fruit for items we had on our boats, clothing etc.

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There were lemurs in the trees near the beaches and they were very curious about what we were all doing, they would sit close in the branches and just watch. The lemurs would come down near the kids when they were playing on the beach. The landscape is dotted with boab trees, I love them, they are like living sculptures.

We had a potluck thanksgiving one day while here and even celebrated Blake’s birthday off Windarra.  Sadly we said goodbye, the rest of the boats were heading South while we returned back up to Nosy Be.

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Nosy Komba – 26/10/2015

We loved Nosy Komba so much we came back a second time to spend a few days.  As you can never get enough lemurs, we did another guided walk to see them again.

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Of course everyone loves to have their photo taken with the lemurs.

You definitely need a guide to spot the chameleons especially the tiny one we saw.

We did the obligatory photos with the boa constrictor again.  Although Bernie looks a little puzzled at what he is holding.

Apart from a guided lemur walk we did dine out at some of the local restaurants while we were there.

Ava and Lola’s Birthday – 2/11/2015

As Ava and Lola share a birthday they decided to have a joint celebration.  Lola decorated the picnic area with balloons, while Michelle and I organised food and cakes.  We had an early beach BBQ to try and avoid all the mosquitoes.  

No birthday would be complete without a cake.  Ava wanted a castle cake for her 10th birthday, so that is what they got.

We stayed on the beach to watch the sunset, before making a dash back to the boats once the mosquitoes came out.

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The kids had camped the previous night on the beach, but only Tristan and Lola stayed the birthday night.

Ava had a sleepover on Momo with Jana.  Judging from the photos from Michelle the girls had fun dressing up and putting make up on.

Overall I think the girls had a great birthday.

 

Nosy Antsoha – 3/11/2015

The tranquil island of Nosy Antsoha is located about 28 km southwest of Nosy Be and adventure in the form of lemurs awaits you.  The island is owned by Lemuria Land Park in Hellville and they established a small colony of lemurs of different species here, we had heard that they were rejected lemurs either because of injuries or inappropriate behaviour for the park in Hellville.

We had celebrated Ava’s birthday the day prior on a nearby island and decided to make a trip to Nosy Antsoha to see the lemurs.  We dragged our dinghy ashore and were greeted by a guide who manages the island and were very quickly ambushed, I mean surrounded by lemurs of all shapes and sizes. 

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So its time to meet some of the different lemur species that we met on the island.  We met one particularly shy individual who wouldn’t come too close and was very happy to watch from a nearby tree.  I would say he was brought to the island due to the injury to his eye.  This little guy is a black and white ruffed lemur and found in the eastern rainforests of Madagascar 

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The most rambunctious of the lemurs was definitely the white collared brown lemurs.  They were the lemurs who were definitely not afraid of humans and quite comfortable to sit indefinitely on your shoulder. The ones that are all brown are females and the ones with a little white are the males. These little guys are currently considered vulnerable due to the rapid destruction of their habitat, pet trade and being sold for meat.

The next of these beautiful creatures is the black lemur, which is actually a little confusing, because only the male is black, the female is actually brown.  Looks like the boys liked Ava.  These guys are only found in the north of Madagascar, but can live in both rainforests and deserts.  The numbers of this species are unknown, but they appear to be threatened by habitat destruction.

Last but not least is the final species of lemur that we saw, the Verreaux’s Sifaka and there was quite a little colony of these guys.  They are sometimes referred to as the dancing lemur as when they are on ground they hop along on their hind legs. Unfortunately they have a grim future due to habitat loss, pet trade and hunting for meat.

It was an incredible experience that we thoroughly enjoyed, I think you can tell by the smiles on everyone’s faces.  The best part was that it was just us, one guide, who really left us to it and lots of lemurs.  

Somehow I managed to miss getting a single, non-blurry photo of Max with a lemur.  Sorry Maxi.

Tourist Information for Nosy Antsoha

We drove our dinghy to reach the island, but if you don’t have your own boat you can still get there. Boats leave from Ambatoloaka Beach on Nosy Be to Nosy Antsoha and it takes about 1 hour 20 minutes.  You can find out further information through the following email: direction@lemurialand.com or through the website: https://www.lemurialand.com/

The price to visit the lemurs as of 2019 is 15 000 Ariary this may include the price of the boat ride.

Information is accurate as of April 2019