We left early this morning to beat the heat. It was a balmy 18º to start but by the time we were done it was well over 30º. Probably closer to 35º.
We hiked about 1km in the forest to get to the edge of the Grand Tsingy itself. Along the way we saw a Deckens Sifaka family in the trees.
Two Western Red Forest Rats crossed the path in front of us. They sort of looked like squirrels with a very thin fluffy tail
The hike through the Tsingy was full-on mountaineering, scrambling up and over and down these crazy sharp limestone rocks. Both tough and cool at the same time. We were given harnesses as some places were a little sketchy. There is no way this would be allowed in the land of lawyers without signing some serious waivers. Here? Nobody asked if we were capable, we just did it. We asked Jimmy, our guide, where his harness was – he just smiled his secret smile and didn’t answer us.
We brought work gloves on the recommendation of TripAdvisor reviewers (and will donate them here). Here is Kris all ready to roll.
We squished our way through a couple of caves and crevices, climbed a few tall ladders and used tiny cracks and crevices for hand holds. As in the Petit Tsingy, small rocks are bolted to the side of the cliff wall as ‘steps’, although many of them are coming loose, which just adds to the excitement. The harnesses have two carabiners so we can be clipped onto one cable while attaching to the next one as we make our way up the cliff side.
That rock under Kris’ right hand will soon become a step.
That really doesn’t look like a trail!
Hot and happy at one of the viewpoints.
The tallest rock looks like the Virgin Mary.
We climbed up to two viewpoints and saw some incredible scenery. This is called the ‘love seat’ and totally looks like someone carved a couch up here. Jimmy said we were the king and queen of the Tsingys today.
Clipped onto the cable, as there is one hell of a crevasse to my right and only a skinny ledge to walk on.
Taking a break in the shade after scaling “the wall”.
‘The sky in the star’ instead of the star in the sky!
The fear-inducing suspension bridge across a deep gully between cliffs. Apparently, only one visitor has totally chickened out and refused to cross the bridge – however, that means back-tracking down the cliff face we just scrambled up. No thanks – I’ll take the bridge. If there was a guy on the other side selling bottles of cold beer, tourists might cross faster! Why not, it worked for us on the Great Wall of China last year! (PS you can see Jimmy in the background on the phone with his brother – he was like a little goat walking up and down those cliffs, making it look soooo easy).
We stopped for a snack at a crevasse called ‘the Cathedral’, named for the spire-like rock columns reaching upward to the sky.
To get to the Cathedral, we had to squeeze through a long narrow cave and out a tiny hole. Kris called it the rebirthing cave. It was literally like being born again. We had to crawl on our hand and knees and crab walk a bit.
All in all it was a slightly dirty, very hot and tough morning but completely worth it.
On the hike out through the forest we saw more Common Brown lemurs. We learned that the male is quite gray, while the females are red-brown (this one is a girl). They look quite different from each other but both very cute.
The drive to and from the park is only 17km from the village of Bekopaka. Miffy says the road is ‘good’ today and it took just over an hour each way. This is one of several washouts we had to ford.
We were back at the lodge in time for a late lunch. A side note, the food at the lodge is very well done but the menu is limited. Dinner is a fixed menu and has posed it’s challenges. One night was duck (Kris is not a fan). The second night was fish (Dave is not a fan). However each night we’ve been able to either have the appetizer or the main as our main. The staff expects everyone to order an appetizer and main and a dessert. They don’t seem to understand what we are doing when we share. Zebu Carpaccio was a little light on food for Dave last night but we have granola bars to fill in the difference.
On our way back to our room we saw a praying mantis hanging out in the open-air restaurant. Kris tried to feed it an ant but it was not interested.
And the rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing in that amazing pool. Our oasis of bliss. A well-earned treat. Ahhhh.
Today is hotter than yesterday and probably close to 40º! And the pool is a “cool” 30º.
We have used up our mobile data plan and will attempt to buy more tomorrow. Hotel wifi has been spotty and we don’t like to have to rely on it.
This last couple days were the dangerous (ish) part of this trip. One of the reasons we updated our wills before we left Canada. There was a strong possibility of us needing to be on motorcycles to get up and down that road if the car hadn’t been able to make it. Madagascar does have a helmet law for motorcycle drivers (not sure about the passengers) but we’re not sure how many people actually wear them. Certainly there are no helmets on any of the bike riders, and today we saw a guy wearing a hard hat. Don’t think that’s going to help much in an accident. Thankfully the road was dry and ‘easily’ passable by car.
Sunsets here are pretty incredible. This is an OK shot as the iPhone just can’t do it justice.
Tomorrow we are back in the car retracing our steps to get to Kirindy to visit our last park.