The final leg of our 4×4 journey took about 4 hours to cover approximately 90 kms.
There were a few good stretches of sand tracks and very few rocky stretches which was nice but we encountered some of the worst washboard stretches we have ever driven. Our truck has heavy duty suspension so washboard is the worst possible condition to drive.
We encountered several deep mud crossings and a couple of fairly deep water crossings so the thought of getting stuck again was always in the back of our minds.
About 20 kms away from pavement, and feeling a little more relaxed, we encountered more mud, and it looked really deep. I picked a route and as I accelerated through the quagmire we hit what sounded like a large rock submerged in the mud. Yikes!
The truck kept a rollin and we escaped unscathed and continued on but wait… what’s that scraping sounding noise that is emanating from the right front wheel-well whenever we hit a large bump? Must be mud stuck on the mud flap, no?
No it wasn’t. We stopped and upon inspection I could see the right front wheel had zero clearance in the wheel-well. We must have blown a shock absorber.
Fortunately this happened at the very end of the day of our driving adventure and we were getting close to tarmac. Had we had more mountains to climb and rivers to cross a blown shock could have been a very serious situation indeed.
We proceeded on and finally, just up ahead, tarmac! Civilization! We had accomplished what no man has accomplished before, we, oh never mind, you get the picture, we made it.
We limped into the town of Morondava, picked up some phone data from Orange, withdrew 1.2 million Ariary (worth about $420.00 CAD) from Bank of Africa and then pulled in to a local automotive mechanics shop.
They identified the problem immediately, it wasn’t the shock absorber but I think a steel suspension link or something and they didn’t have the part on-hand but they could get one delivered quickly.
After about 1 1/2 hours of hanging around the oil stained hot and humid car repair pit and hot garage we finally got a ride to our hotel and we prayed the truck would be fixed by tomorrow.
To our surprise and relief the truck was delivered around 8:30 in the morning. Our Pisteur, Antonio showed up to tell us. What a guy! Excellent service!
We don’t know the cost of the repair as it was picked up by our rental company, Roadtrip Africa/Madagascar. Their service and response to any issues we have faced along the way has been great. More on that later in my final Madagascar review.
We spent the first two nights at Chez Maggie, a nice lodge with bungalows near the ocean side.
I planned and booked our whole time in Madagascar. One evening about a week ago I was reviewing our itinerary and noticed a, shall I say, slight error. Our plan was to spend two nights in Morondava and then head north to the Tsingy de Bemaraha, a protected UNESCO world heritage site of immense beauty but it was not to be. The drive would be approximately 8-10 hours, part of which would consist of military escort with a convoy of 4×4’s heading north to the Tsingy. We had three nights planned to allow for some time to explore the area. What I didn’t factor in was the drive back to Morondava thinking we could drive straight to Miandrivazo. That would have been a 14+ hour drive. Damn! We decided it just wasn’t worth the 16+ hour return drive to have one full day of exploration. We missed a beautiful site so we’ll save the Tsingy for next time.
Morondava is probably one of the nicest towns we have been to. The main street is wide and clean with sidewalks. One area is devoted to the food market. Fish, fresh veggies etc. Further along is a section devoted to cheap chinese footwear and other crap that will fall apart within days but hey, the price is right. It is a stop off or starting point for tourists wanting to head north to the Tsingy and those (us) who made their way from the south with intentions to continue north. It has an airport so it is a very convenient place to start your adventure whether it be north or south.
Next, a short trip to L’allee des Baobabs.