30 November 2011

The train from Manakara

As our itinerary comes together, we are learning more about how we will get around in different countries.  We also realize that there will be times when we may not have web access for updating our blog.  So this is an advance post about a unique train ride we will be taking in southern Madagascar.

Verreaux's Sifaka, Madagascar
We have a wonderful opportunity to explore the rainforest at Antsirabe where we hope to see lemurs, tropical birds and other fabled creatures. Then we drive south to the coastal town of Manakara (pop 35,000). Following an overnight stay, we start a real adventure as we board the narrow gauge railway that runs inland from Manakara to Fianarantsoa in the eastern highlands. It's a full day ride as the train stops at the village stations along the way.  It will be "rustic", as our travel agent says, but it will give us a unique glimpse of everyday life for the rural Malagagy people. By the end of this journey we'll be ready for a meal and a couple of Three Horses Beer, Madagascar's' own brew.

We will be working our way across Madagascar from east to west, with stops to explore the national parks as we go. Toliara will be our most westerly destination before we head along the coast to Anakao.  It's during these adventures that we will be far from wi-fi connections.

To get a sense of what this leg of our journey will be like, check out this YouTube video of the train trip.  The view enroute is quite amazing.

Also read Simon Reeves' article in the Observer about the train and what it means for the people of this region of Madagascar.

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