Ranomafana, place of hot water…so called because of numerous hot springs, which are nowadays turned in to Roman style baths.
Everyone I spoke to was fascinated by this place…
It turned out to be a rather cold shower for all of us, in different ways..
Raoul and Lisenne came over to our hotel in Marakana, as we were giving them a ride to Fianarantsoa, with plenty of stops along the way.
The plan was that I was getting of at Ranomafana, doing a night spotting walk, Raoul, Lisenne, Ninah and Odilon drive on to Fianarantsoa, to finalise and financialise their up coming trip. Ninah and Odilon return the same night, and we go on as planned. So far so good.
The drive to Ranomafana was in usual relaxed atmosphere, some groovy tunes from my iPod, singing and laughing. We stopped at a local town, with lots and lots of fresh vegetables, fruits and spices.’ Ben, photo, photo’ Ninah yelled and jumped out of the car.
She was right, there were some fantastic photo opportunities, but initially she stopped to go shopping. Running from stall to stall, checking the fruit, haggling, and loading up our Kat Kat with fruits and veggies, for her return to Miandrivazo. She was right in her element. So was I, taking quite a few colourful photos of fruit and vegetables, vendors and buyers.
I was amazed by the amount of ‘travelers trees’ in the area, and asked Odilon to stop for a coffee break. These trees, or palm trees, got their name from early explorers and was often used as a drink stop. If one drills a hole and stick a straw in, one is able to drink the water kept inside. They looked way to impressive to cut them.
A few more stops and we arrived in Ranomafana. A river running along the road, with lush vegetation. We had lunch, and chatted to a large group of Dutch folks, I thought Ninah had pre-booked our accommodation, but we spent a fair while going from hotel to hotel without any luck. All hotels were booked out! Stress came up, as I was supposed to go on a nocturnal wildlife spotting walk, with another tour guide and his client, who were waiting patiently. We were able to pitch my tent at hotel ‘Manja’ in malakilaki style. I wasn’t overly impressed, as Ninah spends a lot of time on her three phones and I would have expected that at least the basics for our tour were covered. After that she can organise future trips, no worries. Anyhow, I farewell Raoul and Lisenne and wished them a funtastic trip with Ninah and Odilon. The nocturnal wildlife spotting tour was held on the main road, as no one is allowed in to any National Park at night time.
It was fun. I joined a tour with a local guide, a nice young Indian student and 3 South African girls. Those had massive cameras of the the usual brand and tried really hard to get a good shot on spotted wildlife, mainly chameleons. I had a few shots and was happy with the outcome, and shared a few tips on shutter speed, aperture and ISO. My headlamp and Luci came in very handy, again. We saw the rare, and oh so cute cute, mouse lemur, weighing a mere 48 grams. A photo was impossible for this shy and fast moving cutie.
I didn’t expect Ninah and Odilon to return till late, and chilled in front of my tent.
No sign of Ninah and Odilon next morning,and her very friendly tour guide friend told me, they would arrive later. He sorted out a local tour guide,which is needed for each Nat. Park. We took a taxi to the entrance of the park, there were loads of tourists. With a wildlife spotter we set out. He spotted the rare golden bamboo lemur and a different kind of sifaka, all high in the bamboo forest. I could have spotted them, as they were surrounded by large tourist groups. I can’t blame the Lemurs, I would have stayed up high as well. That was the last time I saw the spotter, as we walked of to a longer walk through the forest, without mass tourism. Gotta say though, it was rather boring. A walk through the Dorrigo mountains would have been a better option. The guide walked in mooooora moooora pace and spent most of the time on his phone. How annoying is that! He pointed out one cute camouflaged frog, that’s it. I ended up overtaking him, and waited at Intersections for direction. The lookout views weren’t great, filled up with tourists.
The creek with its waterfalls, surrounded in lush vegetation were the highlight for me, and if I had known before, I would have skipped Ranomafana completely. I gave the guide a tip; to be more attentive to his clients, and spend less time on the phone…And reluctantly some money.
Ninah and Odilon waited for us at the park entrance. I had a coffee and told Ninah and Odilon, that I was not happy about their organisation skills. I wasn’t angry and understood she was happy to return home to Mindravazo and had lots to organise for the Raoul and Lisenne pirogue trip, but I expected at least the basics covered for our current trip. As I looked in her eyes, I noticed she almost started crying and Odilon looked remorseful. Surely I wasn’t being that harsh, or was I?
Odilon then said, that they got stopped by police last night, and only after a bribe, were able to return to Fiantsaroa. Him, and no other Malagasy is allowed to drive at night, security is tight. He added that Raoul and Lisenne cancelled their trip, very last minute! As it turned out later, Ninah and Odilon got a bit greedy on the prize, and Raoul and Lisenne decided to travel independently.
To sum Ranomafana up, the best thing was hotel ‘Manja’ with hearty and cheap meals, their botanical gardens, and a massage from Mrs. Mamy. This petite woman was strong, and knew how to use it effectively to loosen up my tight muscles.
Needless to say, that the events from the last few days, were still on my mind.
I was happy and ready to go my own way again, but it obviously wouldn’t have been the right choice. The adventures of us fantastic 3 just have been too good, and I wouldn’t have seen or done only half as much, traveling by myself with taxi- Bruce, without Ninah and Odilon.
Nothing had been finalised yet, but deep I side, I knew that our journey wasn’t over just yet,
The adventure of the fantastic Three will continue. A great thought, even though stretching my budget somewhat more.