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Gite de Ampijoroa (Madagascar)

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Pretty basic bungalow accommodation near Ampijoroa in madagascar

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      21.10.2011 13:20
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      Worth staying in the lodges as the scenery, baobabs and animals can be seen nowhere else

      En-suite lakeside bungalow at Gite de Ampijoroa

      This was the night we stayed to explore the Ankarafantsika National Park and thankfully we did only have the one night as it was very basic. We were warned that there was no hot water in the bungalows but when you combine that with the fact there was no fan and a sliding door that had to be shut otherwise the mosquitoes flew in and a pretty solid bed with pillows that had a few large chunks of sponge in them it was not the most comfortable night.

      When we arrived we were taken for a walk to see the tallest Baobabs in the world. There were three and they were enormous and certainly worth a visit. On the way to the Baobabs we passed other native trees. There was a large raffia palm native to Madagascar that fruited only once in its life, strange sort of pine cone looking fruit from the outside but orange flesh and a large seed. We also saw zebu cattle grazing in the dried up padi fields which we walked across to cross a very interesting bridge which was constructed out of chain link fencing and steel cables.

      THE BUNGALOW
      After our walk in the midday sun we were escorted to our lakeside bungalow. Thankfully it was the dry season otherwise it would have been mosquito city and we would have been the dinner. The bungalow was solid and there were screen on the windows but not the large sliding door. We had a lovely balcony but only two hard wooden chairs to sit on so that was not the most relaxing place.

      Inside we had a small double bed and two bunks which were basic pine frames which had been 'modified' with unfinished stakes to hold the mosquito nets so it looked like a cheap four poster but the net wouldn't stay up out of the way and only just reached the mattress and certainly not the floor. The curtain across the main entrance sliding door was a foot short of the floor too, obviously shop bought and not made to measure.

      There were two very comfortable rattan circular chairs with cushions inside the room which we toyed with dragging out on to the veranda but it would have been hard work. There was no fan at all so it was pretty hot in the room in the middle of the day and early evening so we took advantage of the cold showers and sat with as few clothes on as possible to relax and prepare ourselves for the next walk.

      The toilet was okay, it seemed clean but we also had a huge plastic bucket and a jug also in there plus the only waste bin in the room was also in there. It was basic but worked; the seat looked about twenty year old but was fixed onto the toilet which is always a plus point.

      The shower was also clean but cold and had to be hand held as it wouldn't stay on the wall fixing. Once again there was a large plastic bucket of water and jug also in there which didn't add to its 'chic' look at all. Fortunately as it was so hot the cold water only didn't matter as much as it might have in other places.

      We had a decent sized towel but although it was clean, it was quite crisp and Ii didn't sniff too closely when using it. We were provided with a small bar of lavender soap but that was it for toiletries. Needless to say there was no hairdryer but we did have a plug in mosquito killer and a large can of spray and then truly bizarre there was a box full of packs of condoms! I thought they were the things to go in the electric mosquito thingie but when I inspected them more closely they were indeed a box full of triple foil packs of condoms!! That is a first for me; I have never been given condoms in a hotel room before.

      We only had electricity part of the day and it went off again at 9 pm so bed was the only option and it was so hot that we had a cold shower and didn't bother drying too much. Electricity came on again at 5 am and went off again during the day for some time too.

      THE FOOD
      This place was all inclusive for food but not drinks. We had one breakfast, two lunches and a dinner while we were there.

      Breakfast was a French stick cut in half lengthwise then cut into two halves like you would to make a long sandwich, butter and some jam. We also had a glass of fruit juice and a plate with half a mango and a slice of pineapple each. Then we could choose between coffee or tea and the only milk was condensed milk. That was it.

      Lunch was a three course meal; starter was a choice of about four different salads which come on a small plate. They were okay plain but you were brought a salad dressing home made in a desert dish. The main course was again a choice of four but the same each day, a fried vegetable with rice which was actually courgette, tomato and potato so very starch rich, whole fish with rice, chicken legs fried with rice and fried zebu steak which was as tough as old boots. Deserts were a choice of fresh fruit cut up, so a peeled banana, half a mango and a slice of pineapple, or fruit salad which had a tonne of sugar in it, flambéed bananas and fruit crepe. The flambéed bananas were good, the crepe was awful, cold and stodgy with a fruit salad poured over it and the fresh fruit was fresh fruit!

      Dinner was pretty similar to the lunch so by this time as we both hate having to deal with a whole fish on a plate and chicken on the bone the choice was becoming very limited so we went for a soup starter skipped the main and had the flambéed bananas and that was the best meal we had there.

      THE SETTING
      This lodge would not encourage many visitors if it was not for its location next to or almost in the National Park. It doesn't win any prizes from us apart from the location either and if it wasn't for the fact that this is the only place where you can see the Coquerel's sifakas in the wild as well as the tallest Baobabs trees in the world then I would not really recommend this as a place to stay.

      There was a lake which we had a view of from our bungalow and on the day we arrived we walked 4 km around the lake looking for water fowl, sea eagles and Nile crocodile. Now considering we had already driven two and a half hours from Mahajanga, walked about an hour and a half to the Baobabs and around the area then eaten a three course meal this 3pm walk we could have lived without.

      We did hear the local legend about the lake and saw the spot where a zebu is sacrificed every year. According to legend the King of a Sacaraga tribe lost a battle to the king of the tribe from Antananarivo and rather than be made a slave he threw himself into the lake. The next day people saw a crocodile in the lake and so they believe the king was re-incarnated as a crocodile.

      In the lake are about forty crocodiles now and tilapia, Nile perch and carp. There are a number of heron types as well as a pair of sea eagles which we did see the next day.

      On our second day at 3pm we were taken for a walk along the road past all the village stalls and down to a small flat bottomed boat. This was a much more pleasant way of exploring the lake and we saw so much more that I really don't know why they walked us around it the previous day as we had three walks that day and two were in the heat of the day. On the boat trip was when we saw the sea eagles, the crocodiles and a number of water fowl and we also enjoyed a pleasant breeze and had a stool to sit on.

      Our final walk was a night walk along the edge of the forested area and we saw a number of mouse lemurs, the Golden and the Grey mouse lemur as well as a Sportive Lemur all of which are nocturnal. The night sky was so clear that the stars were really beautiful. I am sure we could see the whole Milky Way. This walk was about an hour and a half and so we felt we had earned our beer that evening.

      WOULD I RECOMMEND?
      Yes if you are keen on wildlife and like to see wild animals in their natural environment but you have to be prepared for a less than luxurious room which only has electricity part of the time, no hot water and no fan and it is VERY hot. The food was not great but the beer was cold and only £1 a litre bottle so that helped.

      I found this very difficult to allocate stars as the lodge anywhere else I would barely give one star but because it is a package to the National Park here which was a good five stars I struggled and opted for the three stars.

      Thanks for reading. This review may be posted on other sites under my same user name.
      ©Catsholiday

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