|Verreaux's Sifaka in the nearby Spiny Forest|
Good for: Tribal culture, Varied wildlife; Lemurs, Chameleons, birds, Baobabs and of course the amazing Spiny Forest.
When to go: Honestly, I think any time of year would be good here! There are only 2 seasons: Hot, rainy season is November to April, Cooler dry season, May to October. Although the camp is closed from January through to the end of March, when it can be really rainy.
Cost: For 3 nights, you would be looking to pay between £1,000 to £1,200, which includes 4x4 transportation (transfer by small plane is optional and additional), full board, all drinks, meals and guided excursions (including national park entrance fees) and a donation towards local community and environmental projects.
Flights/Travel: You can transfer from Fort Dauphin by car or by private plane, which can be organised at the time of booking. The trip to the camp itself is on a very rugged road and can take a long time, but it is interesting and not unbearable - just a little uncomfortable at times. The private plane takes you to just a few minutes away from the camp itself.
Time difference: 2 hours ahead of UK
|A glorious double tent, complete with 4 poster bed|
Firstly, this river camp is an environmental concern, which is always a major consideration when we travel, and they do very well at it: providing organic toiletries (which are gorgeous!) to use during your stay (and organic insect repellent), minimising their environmental footprint and investing back into the local community, actively promoting conservation and protection of local forests. Really, the people here at the camp, the whole team - do an admirable job and seem to be achieving great things.
|The view of the river from Mandrare River Camp|
This magical place seems to have everything: The tents are immaculate and have a great, stone built bathroom to the rear and a river view to the front. There are even hammocks to relax in as you take in the view. As camping goes this is glamping, eco-style!
As there are only 6 tents here, it really is an escape from everything. The food here is seriously high quality and you feel completely spoiled at every meal.
The team here are excellent at making you feel like you are a part of one big family and they all work hard to make sure you get the best out of your stay. Hats off the the owners, for their vision and their dedication to making this camp work so well.
|Male Madagascan fly catcher in the Camp|
We saw scorpions (don't panic they are small, reclusive and not deadly), chameleons and a plethora of birdlife, both during the day and at night. There were several Owls around the camp and one in particular, the white browed owl, was a regular attendee after dinner.
|Verreaux's Sifaka & baby in the Spiny Forest|
You can do day and night walks here, both are equally rewarding as there are plenty of nocturnal and diurnal animals here, some you even get the chance to see in both scenarios (sleeping birds and huddled up lemurs).
What to take:
• Torches and plenty of spare batteries
• Cool, quick drying clothes
• A fleece (you will be up before the sun sometimes)
• Mossie repellent, although there aren't many around here
• Binoculars - you will need them for the birds
• Waterproofs and a dry sack to keep your gear safe
• A hat, it can get very hot here
• Basic medi-kit (plasters and the like) you are out in the sticks here
• Comfy walking shoes
• Sun cream
|Ringtail lemur in the Antandroy Gallery Forest|
The food really is exceptional, and you will be astounded at just what these guys produce for you from what seems like a fairly basic location.
In the morning you will hear the local tribe singing on their way down to the river, distant and melodious, it is the perfect wake up call.
Expect the ultimate in warm hospitality from Tom and Danielle and the rest of their local team who are knowledgeable and sociable and, of course, expect to be thinking about your return, before you have even left!
You can find the Mandrare River Camp website here >