We set out on the 9th for a 135 km drive to Manambato, a small fishing village on the shores of Lake Rasoabe where we were met by our boat driver to take us into the heart of the Canal de Pangalanes to our accommodation, the Bush House Lodge. The canal consists of a series of natural rivers, waterways and man-made lakes and unspoiled natural beaches that extends for over 645 Sq.kms and runs down the east coast of Madagascar. It is used primarily for transportation and fishing. Major expansion of the area was completed during the French colonial period between 1896 and 1904 and additional expansion during 1949-1957.
The final 7 km drive from the main RN2 “highway” tar road to access Manambato requires a 4×4 and takes close to one hour to drive. It absolutely did require a 4×4 and the “road” was a 4×4 enthusiasts delight as there had been some rain the previous day that added to the excitement.
We finally arrived at Bush House Lodge after a 40 minute delay due to waiting for a non-apologetic Portuguese mother, daughter and guide. Our bungalow was nice and the location was beautiful but that is about all we can say about the place. The return boat transfer was 164 Euro, about $246 CAD, the meal choice, well, there wasn’t a choice for dinner and half-board was a compulsory expense at 72 Euro and the quality left much to be desired. The room cost was 100 Euro and the additional cost for 2 lunches and beer and wine was about $70 CAD. Total cost for 2 nights/days worked out to more than $600 CAD. Over-priced in our opinion.
Unfortunately the staff on site had very little training (not their fault), could not speak a word of English (again, not their fault but ours also) so it made for some very frustrating situations.
The on site manager, I believe his name was Stephan could speak English but was usually too busy dealing with his cell phone than to pay attention to the guests. We did have a couple of other issues but suffice it to say, although the location was beautiful we wouldn’t recommend this place.
A short boat ride away is Palmarium Lodge which hosts a small Lemur reserve so we did a 2 hour hike through the reserve on our second day. There were 6 varieties of Lemurs mixed with a few hybrid species and all are very habituated and will climb on you looking for food and the males leaving musk scents on your cloths so not really our kind of thing but you do get up close and personal with them, smell and all and can get some great photos.
Indri Indri Lemur
Black/Crowned Lemur hybrid
A very large caterpiller
Our boat back to Manambato departed on time at 8:00 am the morning of the 11th and from there we set out to our next destination, Mahambo, another small village on the shores of the Indian Ocean and accessible only by the notorious RN5, loosely defined as a “road”.