Unforgettable  Journey

Tom W. Barrett     Madison, Wisconsin, USA

             I have been to Madagascar with Blue Chameleon Ventures twice now.  Madagascar has a unique exoticness I found so appealing that I went back to experience it a second time.

             

            On my second trip we visited some familiar scenes, but also a lot that was new and different for me.  I especially remember a rugged drive across the southern spiny forest - - - what scenery!  The countryside was dotted with huge tombs often, decorated with elaborate wood carvings, painted murals, and zebu horns.  During one 2-day drive, we counted 110 gorgeous radiated tortoises of all sizes - WOW ! 

 

            Bill's local guides, drivers, and cooks were all top-notch and cheerful to be with.  Many times they would go out of their way to find and then take us to see lemurs, birds, reptiles, or unusual plants we would have missed otherwise.  Bill showed us everything promised in the tour description and much more.  His vast wealth of knowledge and experience greatly increased my appreciation and enjoyment of the nature I saw and found.  I again found the food, usually French cuisine, good at every meal.  The hotels were quite nice too.  For the few nights of camping, everything was provided and thought of in advance.

 

              Madagascar is a vast island, and this tour had us spending time in all the major ecological climes: rain forest, dry forest, ocean shoreline, coral reef (snorkeling), caves, the famous limestone "Massif" formations, and villages and larger cities.

 

              In an ending comparison,  earlier in 2003 I went to  the Galapagos Islands and found I have no desire to go back.  It was too sterile and bleak, and definitely was all "look but don't touch" and "don't step off the path".  My Madagascar tours have been the complete opposite; finding, photographing, examining, and releasing animals unharmed.

A light drizzle brought out the radiated tortoises in force in early November 2003.  We posed here with four that were all found within a few yards of where we stood in spiny forest on the Mahafaly Plateau.  LEFT - RIGHT:  Me - Tom Barrett, Keiji Kuwabara, our Malagasy guide Parson, and Bill Love.