Will a person gain anything if he wins the whole world but loses his life ?
(Jesus in Matthew 16 : 26a)


THE DEEP SOUTH & ANDOHAHELA N.P.


The Deep South, is the extreme South part of Madagascar ; the country of Vezo, Mahafaly and Antandroy (the 3 tribes of this region). You have 2 ways to go there, the both are very bad roads & are only available in the dry season from Mey to October. The first way is along the sea-side path passing by : Beheloka - Efoetse - Itampolo - Saodona - Bevoalavo - Lavanono - Cap Sainte Marie - Faux Cap. The 2nd way is the national road which is as bad as the sea-side path (the both need a 4 WD vehicle), passing by : Betioky - Ejeda - Ampanihy - Beloha - Tsiombe - Ambovombe Androy. It's the land of spiny bushes, goats & zebus ; a lot of zebus ; but also the land of drought. The only region of Madagascar where people don't grow rice (because of the lack of rain & limestone ground or sandy ground).

Your car runs through the rivers in dry season because there is no water. But it's the first region of Madagascar which produces manioc, sweet potatoes, corn, peanuts and beans. In general, the Vezo people are fishermen. The Antandroy people are pastors (they breed zebus & oxes). And the Mahafaly people grow crops. The vegetation includes Euphorbiaceae, Liliaceae (such as aloes), Apocynaceae (such as bottle-trees) and Didieraceae (all endemic). Most of plants in this region are endemic & it's the part of Madagascar where the rain is the lowest : from 600 mm/year to ... 300 mm/year. To compare it, the part of Madagascar with the highest rain is the North East region, with 3500 mm/year. Everyday, it rains there. But here, it's the land of zebus & spiny plants.

Zebu civilization : The zebus are the most important things for the Antandroy people. They are not sacred but the Antandroy people don't hesitate to live their villages to go to grassy ground even if they have comfortable huts, crops fields and water. The Antandroy people know their zebus very well. And the cattle give them happiness , the cattle are the most important wealth for them. They can give them a beautiful burial (cf the picture above. Mahafaly tombs & Antandroy tombs are similar). So, to steal cattle of other people is a sign of bravery but not a sin for them. And more you have zebus, more the society respects you & gives you honor even if you steal cattle of others. A zebu is an ox with a hump.

The spiny land : The roy [ruï] is a spiny plant in the South ; So, Androy [Andzuï] means in the country of spiny plants & Antandroy [Antandzuï] means the people who live there. For example, there are a lot of cactus there. The people use them to fence their territories. During the pacification in the colonization, the french soldiers were terrified by these plants (from 1899 to 1904). The Compte de Modave has introduced the cactus in the South part of Madagascar in 1770. And these plants have covered all the region. It's a 5m high plant, with yellow flowers & green or purple fruits (you can eat them). The people have eaten a lot of cactus fruits during the big drought (Kere) in 1991, because after eating them, you are able to not drink for few days. So the lack of water is not a problem for you even if the weather is very hot. The cactus leaves are used to feed zebus and other animals (goats, sheeps, tortoises).

A society without religion is like a ship without compass
(Napoléon Bonaparte)

 

Andohahela National Park

Naturalists & public will like this Park because of its particular forest ecosystem. Andohahela National Park is divided in 3 areas : first, the East area with its evergreen humid forest because of much rains. Second, the West semi-arid part with just 600 to 800 mm of rain per year, so a vegetation of spiny bushes. And third, an intermediary zone between these two different climates. Anosy mountainous chain divides Andohahela National Park in 2 areas : the East region & the West ones. This chain stops the wind from the Indian Ocean, so it stops most of rain, it's the reason why the West part is semi-arid. You can visit Andohahela on foot or by mountain-bike (you can rent it in Fort Dauphin), and during the day or the night to try to find lemurs such as Sifaka, Ringtailed lemur or Mouse lemur.

Andohahela National Park (76 020 ha) lies near Fort Dauphin (a small town in the deep South part of Madagascar), between 90 & 1972 m of altitude. People in the whole region get water from this Park, and use it to water their fields & ricefields. About Andohahela flora, you can find an uncommon & unique palm tree, a palm tree that you found nowhere else on earth, the Dypsis decaryi. You can find too other amazing medicinal plants such as the Vanilla madagascariensis (Vahinamalo : not perfumed but men use it like local viagra), the Cedrelopsis greveii (Katrafay : when you have diarrhoea), the Uncarina grandidieri (Farehitra : when you lost hair & you don't like this), the Cyphostemma laza (Laza : mediums use it for its magic power), the Diospyros sp. (Maintifo : sculptors & carpenters like this tree very much).

 

... Blessed are people whose God is the Lord
(Psaml 144 : 15b)

 

I've shared this to you with pleasure & let me tell you
my 2 most memorable souvenirs of this Deep South part of Madagascar :
1- The first time when I were there, in October 1993,
with the Krömker : Christian & Sonja (AVIATOURS -
cf the picture of the 4 WD vehicle above - I've losen their contact now).
2- In July 1995 with the Blanchard : Yannick & Yveline (COMPTOIR D'AFRIQUE)
who have become one of my best friends. Many things have changed since these times, but the campings always are the best mean to do your trip there. Yes, you can't find good hotels in this region.


Ravo & Hery - Camping in Beheloka in front of the beach - 1998
Ravo - Typical vegetation of the Deep South part of Madagascar : the spiny bushes - 1998

TRIP TO MADAGASCAR

Since a few years, Madagascar has become a privileged destination in ecotourism. Madagascar, an enchanting island, an authentic country, which will please you for its diversity and for its welcoming people. Madagascar, one of the best destination in the world for discovery tour lovers and for trekking tour lovers. Madagascar, a destination off the beaten tracks.

Madagascar, the land of lemurs, chameleons and baobabs (Madagascar, a real natural sanctuary). Splendid fauna & flora have beautify a lot of Natural Parks & Reserves (tropical primary rainforests, deciduous worn out dry forests, savanna shrub areas, eroded « ruiniforme » sandstone formations, spiny bushes, etc. ). One of these Reserves is or even classified a UNESCO World Heritage because of its loveliness, it's the eroded karst pinnacles : the famous Tsingy of Bemaraha.

We search 3 or 4 people for November 2007 (arriving in Madagascar one sunday at the end of October 2007) to discover the big island in one month, we use a 4WD vehicle with some treks. No flight, no bivouac. In 30 days, we will discover the road " From the Highlands to the South-West ", the South-East with one part of the Pangalanes Canal, the famous train Manakara - Fianarantsoa, the Deep South of Madagascar with Anakao typical fishermen village, and ALL the West area with its baobabs forests and the famous Tsingy.

Approximate cost :
1690 euros PER PERSON (if you are 4 people)

Are not included in these rates : your international flights, your visa, your insurance, your personal expenses (phone calls, laundry, tips, souvenirs, ...), your drink and the carriers at hotels & airports.

Reference : mdsw-2007

Everyone who has visited Madagascar, talks about it
with nostalgia & dreams to come back again one day

If you are interested in, please contact me : r_ravo@hotmail.com
M. RATSIMBAZAFY Ravo Nomenjanahary
Professional National Tour Guide

Jesus loves children

 

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