Mumbai, India | 9 January, 2007 | $20.56
This hotel room was the cleanest I stayed at in India and one of the most difficult to book. I lucked out with a cancellation and got this room at the YMCA in Mumbai for two nights. Mumbai was the most frustrating and expensive city in India to book accommodation and if I went again I would probably book in advance.
More photos of Mumbai can be seen in the gallery.
Bekopaka, Madagascar | 20 May, 2007 | $63.47 (hotel, guides, transport, & food on river trip)
Our first day back on the road was a long one, bringing us to the ferry crossing at Bekopaka at dusk. Cars were loaded onto the barge in the water and we jumped onboard, dandling our feet over the edge, inches from the water. Across the river was a campsite where we slept two nights—the first, after a day’s drive and the second after exploring Tsingy National Park, to the North.
Our second night we saw another group of travelers keeping a local man in their tent. His one room shack had burnt down (keeping fuel next to an open flame is always a bad idea) and he had been badly burnt. Still, his brother was worse off, and had been taken to a hospital the previous day. I gave him antibiotics to take while another tourist, a nurse, scraped the dead skin off of his body in an effort to save his limbs. It’s times like these that remind me how dangerous it can be to live a day’s drive in a private vehicle away from a doctor.
Antsiraraka, Madagascar | 18 May, 2007 | $63.47 (hotel, guides, transport, & food on river trip)
Once again, I woke up to little kids giggling outside my tent. Sunsets and sunrises were some of the most impressive I’ve ever seen here. After some more time in the canoe, our third day, we climbed atop the bank and loaded our baggage into carts pulled by large animals.
Our destination, a tiny town called Antsiraraka, was where we would meet up with the road the following day. We arrived just before dark, walking through farmlands and crossing barefoot across small rivers. The townspeople were finishing up their chores while I explored the town. Whenever I tried to take a picture a large group congregated, insisting I fit everyone into the picture, leaving me with many awkward group shots.
More photos of the walk to Antsiraraka can be seen in the gallery.
Tsiribihina River, Madagascar | 17 May, 2007 | $63.47 (hotel, guides, transport, & food on river trip)
Our second full day on the river meant more wildlife spotting (including lemurs!) and lunch and swimming at a waterfall. I was traveling in the shoulder season so none of these spots were crowded and we didn’t see any other tourists on the river.
Tsiribihina River, Madagascar | 16 May, 2007 | $63.47 (hotel, guides, transport, & food on river trip)
Two nights of our trip were spent camping on the banks of the Tsiribihina River. We cut it close and set up our tents at dusk both night, eating fish from the river by candlelight. Each morning we were woken by giggling outside our tents, pulling down the zipper to discover crowds of children eagerly waiting to see who would emerge. Although I enjoyed meeting the kids and photographing them in the beautiful morning light the situation made finding a private bathroom spot difficult.
Miandrivazo, Madagascar | 15 May, 2007 | $63.47 (hotel, guides, transport, & food on river trip)
Traveling alone ensures a bit of uncertainty when trying to book trips that you can’t afford to do alone. My hostel had a few French tourists looking to round out their group trip on the Ttsiribihina River. I was in luck! The only problem is that only one of them spoke much English but the guide reassured me he would repeat anything important in English.
The couple and younger woman were all really nice and friendly but the language barrier was much more frustrating for me with tourists than the language barrier with locals. I admit that I got a bit frustrated because of this and probably wasn’t the best company. I would only run into one other native English-speaking tourist during the month, as well as a few American Peace Corps volunteers.
Our first day of the six day trip was spent driving to a small town where we could access the river. We arrived as the sun was setting, leaving me no time to look around. Our hotel seemed to be an interesting colonial relic and I’m surprised I didn’t take more photos for you guys.
More images of the van ride to Miandrivazo can be seen in the gallery.
Aantananarivo, Madagascar | 14 May, 2007 | $8.16
Tana is a lovely town but I never intended to spend five days there. After my debit card was swiped in Jordan and flagged while I was in Ethiopia my bank finally cancelled it and sent me a new one… to my mom’s house in the U.S. My flight to Madagascar was already book and I only had a 7-day transit visa for Kenya so I continued on and it eventually reached me in Madagascar.
Because flights only run once per week and I had a one month visa I had to plan my route though the country with care. My schedule wasn’t tight but I definitely had a plan for this month of travel. Ansirable is the starting point for arranging a dugout canoe trip to the west coast. After arriving in the dusty field serving as a bus station I jumped on a pousse-pousse (rickshaw pulled by a man half my size) to a hostel in the middle of town. I felt bad that he was pulling my weight and my heavy backpack until he tried to convince me the hostel had burned down.
Aantananarivo, Madagascar | 11 May, 2007 | $14.15
After my crazy overnight ride from Moyale to Nairobi, Kenya I was totally exhausted. I did not take a photo of the cage I slept in overnight for fear that the other, somewhat hostile, passengers would realize why I wouldn’t put my daypack (holding my laptop, hard drive and two cameras) on the roof in the rain. Three nights in Nairobi were spent resting and securing a ticket to Antananarivo on Air Madagascar.
Overnight I went from a bunk bed in Nairobi to a wonderful little hotel called Tana Jacaranda in the capital of Madagascar. My room was tiny but the main room was worth the extra money I spent. This was one of my favorite hotels during my trip. Everything felt different in Madagascar—the light, the rooftops, the food, the cars… Direct flights within Africa to Tana are only available from Johannesburg or Nairobi. I choose the shortest flight but it only operated once a week and makes you realize just how far away Madagascar is from everything.
More images of Tana can be seen in the gallery.
Moyale, Kenya | 4 May, 2007 | $2.26 (my share of a 2-bed room)
While in Addis I met someone who wanted to travel together along the long, rough overland route to Ethiopia. Folks, don’t do it! It is not worth the hassle and discomfort unless you have your own car. If I could go back in time I would have bought the connecting flight from Cairo> Nairobi with a one month layover in Ethiopia. Looking back, riding in the back of a cage through bandit run countryside for 24 hours is a great story but it was a breaking point for me. It didn’t help that my travel partner abandoned me at the Kenyan border.
The Ethiopian side of the border is much more developed but we needed to catch a ride first thing in the morning and didn’t want to risk missing the police caravan. When I asked for a shower I was taken to the roof, given a bucket and pointed toward a spigot and outhouse. Once I was inside and undressed in the pitch black shack a man walked onto the roof and started his evening prayers ten feet away. I felt pretty awkward but he thankfully left before I finished scrubbing the layer of orange dust from my skin.
Dila, Ethiopia | 3 May, 2007 | $3.40
One day on the bus from Addis brought me to the unremarkable town of Dila, for an overnight stop on the way to the Kenyan border. It was so unremarkable that the photo above is the only one I have from the trip. Enjoy!