Tranquility In Madagascar: Uncovering Precious Manafiafy
Friday, August 13, 2010
Since the release of French rule in 1960, Madagascar has struggled with ominous periods of civil unrest and environmental destruction. Yet there is no question that this small African island remains one of the most beautiful places on Earth. A geographic collage of white sand beaches straddled by resplendent turquoise waters, stark desert juxtaposed with verdant rainforest, and swampy mangroves shadowed by rugged mountains peaks — life teeming in each nook and crevice.
Manafiafy, a coastal village located in the southeast corner of Madagascar, was recently featured in the Financial Times as a “natural treasure.” To reach this tiny place requires an hour flight from the capital, Antananarivo, followed by a three-hour drive through bumpy, muddled roads. If you survive the nausea from carsickness, the undisturbed serenity of sea, jungle, and fauna may just be worth the trouble.
After the tolling journey, the article recommends staying at the area’s new luxury eco- lodge, Madagascar Classic Camping, set on the banks of the Mandrare River. There are endless possibilities for exploration in close proximity to the camp, so the venture becomes more about personal endeavors. Walking safaris — thanks to the absence of carnivorous creatures — are guided through protected reserves where several species of lemur can be seen alongside thousands of vibrantly colored birds, butterflies, reptiles and insects. Long stretches of pristine beach line the coast, perfect for a lazy stroll or afternoon swim. Boat trips to nearby mangrove swamps reveal a glimpse of local fishing practices, meandering crocodiles, and an intricate network of tree life.
Travel warnings posed on Madagascar by foreign governments has caused tourism to drop by 31 percent since the military coup in 2009. “The present lack of tourists in Madagascar is both a blessing and a curse: areas such as Manafiafy still feel delightfully undiscovered and yet a thriving industry could be a lifeline,” writes the author. The hope that eco-tourism will eventually hinder ecological destruction remains strong. It is a promising alternative to the exploitation of resources that has caused many of Madagascar’s “natural treasures” to disappear.
By Maria Russo
About the Author
Maria Russo is a freelance writer who loves natural wonders, good eats, ethical travel, and boutique hotels. Her work has appeared on the Huffington Post, USA Today.com, People.com and A Luxury Travel Blog, among others.
When Maria is not writing for her all-time favorite site (that would be The Expeditioner), she spends her time blogging about foreign jaunts and delectable food experiences for her site: Memoirs of a Travel & Food Addict. She is also up to no good on Twitter (@traveladdictgrl, @expedmaria).