Africa In Photos Madagascar The Nomadic Life Travel

Photo-Frenzied in Morondava’s Avenue de Baobabs


I went to Madagascar’s most iconic and photographed site, and I didn’t bring my camera.

Just kidding. Though I did think about it for the purpose of writing a piece on how photography distracts from being present and the importance of absorbing and interacting with a place rather than documenting it. Maybe I should have done just that, but I selfishly wanted my postcard snapshot of the Avenue de Baobabs at sunset too. They’re just so damn photogenic.

I wasn’t alone in this. Car after car full of tourists rolled in, parking at the entrance closest to the road back to Morondava town or pausing for a few seconds to drop off groups returning from the Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park, so they could lazily walk the several yards of baobab-lined path back to their private four-by-fours just in time to get dinner. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a large concentration of tourists in Madagascar in my whole two years of living here (although Isalo came close).

As we made our way down the sandy path, a group of small children ran up to us with chameleons on sticks. They knew from experience that basically every visitor would have a camera and demanded we take photos then give them small change. “Madame, photo! Madame, photo!”

It made me a little uncomfortable but one of my friends was impressed they had figured out they could make money off of this. They would have made a cute photo, but I was more interested in chatting with them. I asked one of the little girls her name in Malagasy. When I couldn’t pronounce it quite right she got pouty and stomped her feet “NO! Boon-BOO-na!” I laughed. I love it when kids step out of their robotic “oh, madame-o, please give me something” and let their personality escape.

I snuck a photo of her from behind, and she snapped her head around, obviously in recognition of the shutter’s ‘cliiick’ and was back to berating me with ‘madame, photo!’ I feigned ignorance. I told another group of boys near her I didn’t want to take their photo because they were dirty. They were amused. I was serious.


In the end, my seven friends and I all joined the photo-snapping frenzy, but I could tell that all of us still felt somewhat separate from the tourists passing through. We were observing them and their habits the same way they were observing the trees and cooing over cute little African children holding chameleons on a stick. Even with our cameras, we were putting our Madagascar-acquired habits to good use by simply standing in the middle of the road, chatting and staring, moving slowly and not worrying about time.

After we put away our cameras and piled into our taxis to head back to town for pizza, the cool night breeze forcing me to put on a sweater, I felt reminded of why I love travel — for these moments of absolute beauty and tranquility. For being separated from ‘the rest of the world’ but in such a way that isn’t anxious, but peaceful. I felt absolutely content to be where I was in that moment, but at the same time excited for the adventures to come once I’m off this island (which is soon…)

Oh yeah, and those photos:

Avenue de Baobabs


two Canoe Morondava

Rasta Bar

Photos: (1) Entrance to the Avenue of Baobabs (2) Bobona and her chameleon (3)  The kids in front of the baobabs (4) Baobab from the bottom of the trunk (5)  A woman on the road to the Avenue de Baobabs (6) A traditional canoe called a ‘lakana’ on Morondava’s beach (7) Musicians in the ‘Rasta Bar’ in Morondava

Africa Madagascar The Nomadic Life

Taxi-Brousse (Bus) Prices in Madagascar


To all my followers, I’m sorry if this post is rather dull but I created it with the intention of publishing online the price of public transportation in Madagascar — something that has generally just been a matter of hearsay. The inspiration came after finding a Spanish magazine article that quoted the 3,000 Ariary ($1.50USD) taxi brousse fare from Ambalavao to one of Madagascar’s better known climbing spots as 10 euros. Outraged at their error born of a dishonest individual, I decided to compile a list of all long-distance fares in Madagascar with the help of other Peace Corps volunteers. Taxi-brousse drivers notoriously rip off foreign travelers, often telling them to pay extra for luggage on top or quoting prices in the archaic Franc, then not correcting voyagers when they overpay. Even the signs at bus stations are at times dishonest. So, here is a list of prices gathered by people who have fought to get the real cost of things in Madagascar (in Ariary):

[Updated January 24th, 2013] — Please comment if I have made any mistakes and/or left anything out!

From Antananarivo:


  • Ambositra (~6-7 hours) –12,000 – 15,000
  • Antsirabe (~4 hours) – 8,000Antananarivo
  • Farafangana – 33,000
  • Fianaratsoa (~10 hours) – 18,000 – 23,000 (cheapest company is Mamy)
  • Fort Dauphin (~2 days) – 90,000
  • Tulear – 45,000


  • Ambatondrazaka – 18,000
  • Andasibe – 7,000
  • Moramanga – 5,000
    • Moramanga – Ambatondrazaka – 11,000
  • Tamatave (~8 hours) – 15,000 – 18,000


  • Ambanja – 45,000Mosque at Sunset
  • Antsohihy – 35,000
    • Antsohihy – Befandriana – 10,000
    • Antsohihy – Mandritsara – 17,000
  • Diego – 50,000 – 55,000
  • Mahajunga – 25,000


  • Ampefy (~3 hours) – 6,100
  • Morondava (~17 hours/overnight only) – 30,000

From Fianaratsoa


  • Ambalavao – 2,000 – 2,500
    • Ambalavao – Vohitsoaka (entrance to Andringitra) – 3,000
  • Anja – 4,000 – 5,000
  • Fort Dauphin – 60,000
    • Ambovombe – Fort Dauphin – 7,000DSC_2242
  • Ihosy – 8,000
  • Ranohira – 12,000
  • Tulear – 35,000


  • Ranomafana – 5,000
  • Manakara – 18,000
  • Farafangana – 18,000 – 23,000


  • Ambositra – 7,000
  • Antsirabe – 15,000
  • Antananarivo – 18,000 – 23,000

The South-East (Sud-est):

  • Farafangana – Manakara – 7,000
  • Farafangana – Vondrozo – 10,000
  • Vangaindrano – Fort Dauphin – 40,000 – 80,000  (2 day trip; 230km; price depends on type of vehicle)

From Antsirabe:

  • Antananarivo (~4 hours) – 8,000
  • Ambositra (~2-3 hours) – 7,000
  • Fianaratsoa (~6 hours) – 15,000
  • Morondava (~13 hours/overnight only) – 25,000

From Toamasina (Tamatave):

  • Fenerive Est — 7,000
  • Foule pointe – 4,000
  • Moramanga – 12,000
  • Ile Sainte Marie – 40,000 (resident), 90,000 (non-resident) for brousse & boat. Cap Sainte Marie is the best company to go with and the only one that offers air conditioned buses and a seat to each passenger.
  • Soanierana-Ivongo (port to Ile Sainte Marie) – 10,000
    • Soanierana-Ivongo – Ile Sainte Marie (boat only) – 30,000

From Antsiranana (Diego-Suarez):

  • Ambanja – 14,000
  • Ambilobe – 9,000
  • Ankify (port to Nosy Be) – 16,000
    • Ankify – Nosy Be (boat) – 5,000 – 10,000 depending on type of boat

Photos: (1) Kilometer marker and rice fields on the RN7 from Tana to Antsirabe (2) Students in Tana (3) Mosque in Antsirabe (4) House along the RN7 south of Fianaratsoa