I never did any type of research before I decided to visit Madagascar. There were only two things that I knew of and wanted to visit very badly, the stone forest in the Tsingy National Park and the Avenue of the Baobabs. It was very similar to the reasons why I wanted to visit Zambia, to swim in the Devil’s Pool and do the gorge swing.
Anything else that I was able to see in addition to that was a bonus. I set aside three full weeks in Madagascar to see what I thought was going to be most of the country, turns out that the country is massive and there is a lot more things to do in Madagascar than just the stone forest and the Avenue of the Baobabs.
It could easily take you 6-7 weeks to explore the country properly.
I didn’t know much about the history of Madagascar or even its people. Being part of the African continent I assumed that it would be similar to many of the countries I have already visited in Africa, boy was a I fooled. When I first stepped foot in Madagascar there wasn’t an African in site, I felt like I was somewhere in Asia.
It really seemed as if I was in the Philippines, not Africa!
Filipinos that spoke French for that matter not tagalog or any other Asian language. Travelers around the world are accustomed to reaching into their back pocket and speaking English since it has become the universal language. It is my 4th day in Madagascar and I have only encountered 2 people that speak broken English.
In order to get around you are definitely going to need to learn basic French expressions or the local language called Malagasy (say “inovaovao”, pronounced enu-vouw-vouw, which means what’s up).
It’s a very unique culture that I haven’t experienced anywhere in the world. The people of Madagascar have the energy of Africans and the passion of Asians. They are friendly, especially when you speak to them in their local language as I have a habit of doing, but are more reserved.
Any kid in Africa goes crazy to speak and touch a Mozoongu (white person), while in Madagascar I have found the kids to be more kept back until they get to know you a bit better. They come running to the car when they see you but will just stand and stare rather than try to interact with you.
This doesn’t apply to the many hustlers that approach you that want money or the Coca Cola that you are drinking.
As I currently drive through the Madagascar countryside I can tell you that the country is one of the most gorgeous countries I have been to. The first part of our trip looked like a majestic mountainside created by Walt Disney World. There are bright green rice fields and in the distance you can see the locals washing their laundry in the local rivers and tending to their farms.
There is something very different about this country. I can’t quite put my finger on it just yet but since I won’t have internet for extended periods of time I definitely plan on finding out.