Since 27 January 2012, we are producing our own electricity using a photovoltaic (PV) system on the roof. This is the story that goes with it.

Windy waves on the beach of Ile Ste Marie

On our last full day it rains and pours. During the night we noticed a few times that the power went out for a short time. We make it a very quiet morning, and have breakfast at 9:30. We finish the morning reading in the lounge. During the afternoon the weather does not clear at all. There are puddles of water everywhere, and the wind is very strong. The sea shows white-headed waves everywhere and the whale spotting tours do not leave today. We decide to clean up our luggage already for the trip home. We bring the medication that we took with us to the reception of the hotel for local use, and take some of the books that we did read on our trip to the library.

 

Mother and baby humpback whale

Today I am the only one to get up early, because I will be doing the second whale spotting trip alone. At breakfast I get my tablet against motion sickness, but it is much more quiet at sea than yesterday. All of the 9 people that are going on the trip this morning have been on a trip before, so the briefing can be quick. One of the tourists gets a quick training with the GPS unit, because Maria is the only whale scientist on board. 

Group of 7 whales

Today we need to get up early to be in time for a 7:45 pre-briefing for our whale spotting tour. As a precaution, we get a tablet against motion sickness with breakfast. Together with 9 other tourists we fill in questionnaires and the leaders from Cetamada give us a speed training whale anatomy. Then we dress up in raincoats and life vests and into the boat that brings us to the whale tour boat a little further in the harbor.

Hotel zebu-cart

We have to get up very early today. Our plane is scheduled for 06:00, and according to our guide this first plane to Ile Ste Marie is the only flight of the day that always leaves in time. I wake up 5 minutes before our 3:00 alarm call. Soon after, our breakfast arrives at the room: two hot chocolate and one cold coffee, with some energy bars.

Pirogue hat brings us to the reef

Today is the last day of our tour on the main island of Madagascar. Our plane for Antananarivo is scheduled for 16:10. We ask at the reception whether we can stay longer in our room, so that we can enjoy the morning. Unfortunately, our room must be empty at 8:00, already before we leave with a pirogue for our snorkeling on the "Barriere des roses". We store our luggage in the hotel storage room, and have a quiet breakfast.

Fishermen in their pirogueAt 8:30 we have the last appointment with our guide: a visit to the "Reniala forest", also known as the "Foret des Baobabs", a 45 hectares dry forest reserve at a few minutes drive from the hotel. The reserve has nine hundred Baobab trees, all of them one species but in different shapes, among which the oldest and biggest of the south (12 m circumference, estimated at 1200 years of age).

Sieving the sand in search of sapphires

Again we have to get up at 6:30; we will be leaving at 8:00 for the last leg of our tour. Twelve kilometers from the Hotel we come through the sapphire capital of Madagascar, Ilakaka. Sapphire was discovered here in 1998, and since then the small village has grown into a city populated largely by people from Sri Lanka and Thailand that are buying and exporting the raw sapphire stones.

Wild ring-tailed lemur

This morning at 7:30 is our appointment with the guide for a visit to Ifato National Parc and the natural swimming pool. We get up early, and enjoy our breakfast in this fantastic hotel. In Ranohira our guide arranges for a park guide, and in the mean time we buy a T-shirt at Maki company. The route to the parking lot where the walking tour begins is full of bumps, and at one point the car has to dive through the river.

Landscape with red houses

Today we get up early to start our long journey. In an attempt not to discourage us, the guide does not tell us that there are more than 300 km ahead of us today. In the morning we can enjoy the beautiful view from behind the hotel. After having bought some bags of vanilla, we leave the hotel, first to a high viewpoint where we are supposed to be able to see why the alternate name of Fianarantsoa is "the city of 1000 churches".