So, after our mid service conference, 9 of my fellow volunteers and I embarked on a 7 day trek down a river to see lemurs, crocodiles, tsingy (limestone rock formations) and baobabs. We spend two and a half days canoeing west down a river towards the coast, swimming in waterfalls, sleeping on sandbars, and spotting all kinds of wildlife. Also, some of the guys purchased slingshots, so they were shooting some of the wildlife, but mostly each other, with dried chickpeas. My boat mostly just lazily listened to music and read harry potter out loud (yeah we know how cool we are). We had guides to navigate the river and to cook for us, so it really was a lazy vacation.
Halfway through day 3, we hopped out of the river and into a 4x4 to drive the rest of the day and arrive at the tsingy after dark (flat tires didn’t help, really terrible road!) The next morning we got to climb the grand tsingy and the petit tsingy. These enormous limestone formations and caves used to be coral reefs that dried out thousands of years ago. They carve their way through some cool jungle and we got to climb all over them. Truly awe-inspiring. We spent another night at the camp there, including a short walk to an actual hotel to dirty up their pool with 10 people who hadn’t showered in 5 days, and then headed out the next morning to try and make it to the baobabs by sunset, the best time to see them.
We cut it close, but we arrived at the absolute perfect time to see these breathtaking trees tower over us, some over 700 years old. My favorite was the baobab amoreaux, or lover’s baobab. These are two baobabs that grew twisted together. There was also the sacred baobab, where you bring an offering and ask for something. That is the 700-year-old one. Then we finally arrived at the allée de baobab, or Baobab Avenue. Rather packed with tourists, but still a wondrous site. We took pictures for nearly an hour there before we packed up and made it the rest of the way to Morondava. There we finally stayed in a hotel, so we got to shower, and had an amazing seafood dinner at a Rastafarian bar on the beach. We sang with the rastas, and then went a little ways down the street for some karaoke.
The plan was to head out the next morning at 10, so most everyone slept in. But Christina and I decided to get up early and go have breakfast on the beach about a 5-minute walk away. Then we ventured a bit into town, where I realized I would kill to live. The laid back atmosphere, the wide streets, the coast; it really was an amazing town, and I really wish I didn’t have to come back to work and could have explored for longer!!
So that was by far the coolest trip I have ever taken, and I can’t wait to continue my travels next month when my family arrives, and in August with Erica Kim! Wish you could all come and experience this country for yourselves; it truly is an amazing place.