Day 7 Tsaranoro Valley
Early start with breakfast at 7am – almost back to normal – and after breakfast we met our guide Faly and got picked up by Fidi to drive to the start of the walk.
On the way up we spotted some birds, including the green pigeon, falcons and kite birds as well as more ring-tailed lemurs, colourful grass-hoppers and chameleons.
The hike was amazing, with breathtaking views all the way up of all the Tsaranoro Valley and Andrigintra National Park mountains. The Lonely Planet described it well: it’s like having Yosemite to yourself! Not many tourists, empty path and addictive silence as you climb up to the top. We met a lovely couple from Woking called Sue and Nick, well travelled and hikers so we could share some of our travelling stories and tips. On the way up Nick had to stop because he was feeling unwell for similar reasons to ours yesterday and we kept going up with Sue to the top. I had vertigo and wasn’t sure whether to get to the very tip or not but in the end they helped me and convinced me. It was worth it, the view is a 360 degrees overview of incredible mountains. You can see the river and we could spot our camp from above. The sky was clear and the sun shining. We stopped there to have our pic-nic in the most amazing view point, and completely alone – just the two of us and Faly our friendly guide. He told us a lot about life in Madagascar: we learnt that to get married you have to afford a Zebu to give as a gift to the bride’s family, and a male Zebu can cost up to 1million Ariary which is a lot. He told us about his family, he is one of five boys and he is the only one that got a bachelor degree – the older brothers could only manage to go to primary. He wanted to go to university but couldn’t afford it as he has to help pay for his two younger brothers to go to school. He has a girlfriend but she is in Ambalavao to finish secondary school and he only sees her every few weeks. He works every day for an entire month walking up and down mountains showing Vasa (tourists) around and at the end of the month he gets four days of holiday.
During the rainy season he doesn’t work at the camp but plants rice in the rice fields with his family and looks after the Zebus. He lives in a small village of 250 people and knows all of them.
He said tourists have brought some money to this area, and since 20 years ago they now have a hospital and a primary school here which is helping a lot their quality of life.
Very interesting talking to him, he also had some good jokes and banter to keep up with Brucey’s usual puns. After the pic-nic we started making our way down, the sun got hotter (scorchio!) and the legs got more tired. It was so worth it though.
On the way down we spotted a yellow chameleon and some very small frogs.
We stopped before getting back in another camp along the way to have a cold drink, because about half way just as we got to the top we finished our 3 litres of water! The cold drink felt like the best thing in the world ever.
We arrived back at Tsara camp at 230pm and had a cheeky beer with Faly, talking more about the differences in our cultures – he wanted to know about our wedding customs, our government allowances and a few other things and we asked him more about his hard work life. His wage seems far to low for the hard work he does, and we hope that our positive Trip Advisor review will help him get a promotion or some kind of bonus. He said that every month their director checks Trip Advisor for the best guides.
The open air solar powered shower after the walk felt amazing, and so did lying down on the bed! Again Brucey being lazy and playing his stupid video games and me writing this!
Day 7 Tsaranoro Valley