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VI 2014 – 3rd Conference, Madagascar, part II




Day 4

  On the 1st of June we started earlier than the days before, we had breakfast at 7am. We were leaving Antsirabe that day, so everybody loaded their luggage into the cars. First we drove to Ambatonapetraka, to see a recently discovered locality of weathered pegmatite, famous for a great number of gem quality tourmalines. It is a place of “tourmaline fever” which means that crowds of Malagasy people come there hoping to find some extraordinary gems and sell them for a lot of money. It was possible to collect as well as to buy some crystals. From the pegmatite we drove to Ambositra town (south from Antsirabe), where we had lunch in the Artisan Hotel. At the entrance of the hotel were welcomed by dancers in traditional local clothes. After a long walk the day before, and because of dusty roads, did not feel very well and were tired, so they decided to stay in Ambositra for one night instead of going with the rest of the group to Ambatofinandrahana. We were going to stay in Ambositra the following night anyways. So after lunch the bigger part of the group drove to Auberge de Marble in Ambatofinandrahana, where there was small mineral marked prepared for us, mostly with quartz. Ambatofinandrahana is a small village, and it was impossible for the whole group to stay in one hotel, so we stayed in several places in the area. We were staying in very simple conditions – there were no showers, and 12 people had to sleep on mattresses on the floor in the dining room (thank you!). But everyone had fun and nobody was complaining. We had a party in the garden of Auberge de Marble, which provided the ideal opportunity to have a glass of rum, mingle and chat.

Next day we left Antsirabe, on the way South we stopped to visit a new gemstone locality (no good crystals from there) to see "tourmaline fever". Google Maps.


Mining area in Ambatonapetraka. R. Lang photo.


Numerous miners on dumps. R. Lang photo.


Numerous miners on dumps. L. Albin photo.


Mining weathered pegmatite in Ambatonapetraka. E. Petrides photo.


Happy miner. E. Petrides photo.


Evgenios playing in small shaft. E. Petrides photo.



Young tourmaline miner. E. Petrides photo.


Tourmaline diggers. E. Petrides photo.


Tourmaline miner. E. Petrides photo.


Afterwards we drove farther South through Ambositra to finally reach Ambatofinandrahana. Google Maps.


On the way South we met "clouds" of locust. L. Albin photo.


On the way South we met "clouds" of locust. J. Rakovan photo.


On the way South we met "clouds" of locust. E. Petrides photo.


On the way South we met "clouds" of locust. L. Albin photo.


On the way South we met "clouds" of locust. J. Veevaert movie.


We stopped for lunch in Ambositra, we had very nice reception with traditional dances. R. Lang photo.


Lunch in Ambositra. K. Doxsee photo.


When we turned West the bad roads started. R. Zeilstra photo.


Main intersection in Ambatofinandrahana (Ambato), no more asphalt here! E. Petrides photo.


A butcher shop in Ambato, any steak for you monsieur?. E. Petrides photo.


Spider in Ambato. R. Lang photo.


Quartz is very frequent in the area and used widely for decoration. E. Petrides photo.


Walking on quartz crystals in the hotel garden. E. Petrides photo.


We organized  a small mineral market in the hotel. S. Szlinke photo.


There was a lot of quartz. M. Ng photo.


Also some rough tourmalines. E. Petrides photo.


Evgenios with tourmaline. E. Petrides photo.


For dinner we all had to squeeze in a very small room. There are no real hotels in Ambato, it was the most basic place where we stayed during the whole trip. M. ng photo.


To make the evening nicer we held a small party in the garden with Malagasy vanilla rum. E. Petrides photo.


Malcolm at the garden party. “What do you mean, you want my rum”?  T. Praszkier photo.


Garden party. L. Albin photo.


We had security and some of us played with kalashnikovs :-) S. Szlinke photo.


Simple room in Ambato. E. Petrides photo.


Because of the lack of rooms, a number of people (around 20) had to sleep on the floor in the "restaurant room". The Polish and Hong Kong groups volunteered. Thank you guys! S. Szlinke photo.


Day 5

   This day was our really early start – breakfast was at 6 am in the garden. It was still dark when we got up. We packed our stuff in the cars and hit the road. Not all of us, because unfortunately stomach problems started for some of the participants - we gave them medicine and let them get some rest in their beds. Good for them, because it was a long and bumpy way - really hardcore off-road. So after over 5 hours of shaking and jumping we got to Ihasofotsy village. In the village we organized a mineral market with quartz. There was a lot of different kinds of it – doubly terminated elongated crystals, Japan law twins, clusters with fuchsite inclusions etc. But it wasn’t easy to buy something special with such a big group of people willing to do it. But several people got very nice specimens, especially new Japan law twins! After the visit we were supposed to drive to the Itremo massive for collecting, but the drive to the village took longer than we expected, so after spending some time there we decided we had no time to go to the massive if we wanted to pass the bumpy road before the dark (it was getting dark around 5.30 pm). So we drove back do Ambositra (picking up the participants who stayed in Ambatofinandrahana on the way). Everybody was exhausted. We had a dinner in the Artisan Hotel, and then checked in to the 3 hotels where we were staying that night. 


Next day we woke up very early and started our drive to Itremo massive. Google Maps.


It is only 30 km but the road is really bad, difficult even for 4WD cars in some places. M. Southwood photo.


Road to Itremo area. M. Southwood photo.


Did I say already it was really bad? R. Zeilstra photo.


Some cars faced small technical problems but everything was fixed quickly. R. Zeilstra photo.


Our security. R. Zeilstra photo.


The most serious problem that day was a bridge with broken planks and a big hole in it - impossible to pass for cars. J. Rakovan photo.


Hole in the bridge. M. Ng photo.


Reparation of the bridge. R. Zeilstra photo.


Finally all 18 cars had to pass using rather risky provisional bridge. R. Zeilstra photo.


But we did it! All cars survived. M. Southwood photo.


Finally we reached the Itremo area, 30 km took us 6 hours! J. Rakovan photo.


We organized a mineral show in small village Ihasofotsy, mostly with quartz. S. Szlinke photo.


Mineral show in Ihasofotsy. It was quite big compared to the size of the village. M. Ng photo.


Our security soldiers helped participants buying minerals. R. Zeilstra photo.


Happy John Rakovan with big quartz. M. Rakovan photo.


Local dealer with big quartz specimen with Japan law twinned quartz. K. Doxsee photo.


Nice Japan law twin, now in John Rakovan`s collection. M. Southwood photo.


Inhabitants had a free cinema! R. Zeilstra photo.


People of Ihasofotsy. R. Lang photo.


People of Ihasofotsy. R. Lang photo.


People of Ihasofotsy. R. Lang photo.


People of Ihasofotsy. R. Lang photo.


People of Ihasofotsy. C. Voogt photo.


People of Ihasofotsy. R. Lang photo.


People of Ihasofotsy. R. Lang photo.


People of Ihasofotsy. R. Lang photo.


People of Ihasofotsy. R. Lang photo.


"Burning" cofee in traditional way. N. Anstee photo.


Good bye Ihasofotsy! N. Anstee photo.


Same day we had to come back to Ambositra, long drive and bad roads. Google Maps.


We "fixed" the bridge on the way back. R. Lang photo.


Huge hole which one of our cars fell into! About 70 cm deep! Luckily only the tire got broken. R. Zeilstra photo.



Finally we arrived to our hotel in Ambositra. L. Albin photo.


     Day 6

    This day started in a more relaxing way than the day before because we had breakfast at 8.30 and then visited souvenir stores offering many tribal products. Then we drove to a nearby placer gold locality where we could see primitive methods of mining. After that we drove for some 4 hours (we had photo stops on the way in the most picturesque places) to Ambatovaky village, which is famous for traditional blacksmithing. We saw local men working hard and making different tools, like shovels etc. It took us some 40 minutes to get from Ambatovaky to Ranomafana village – the place we were staying that night. The climate changed a lot – after a scenic drive we left the highlands and descended into the rain forest where we had a photo stop by the tumbling waters of the Namorona River. Ranomafana village is surrounded by the jungle – Ranomafana National Park - so we could hear lemurs howling in the morning! In the village we had lunch at Grenat restaurant, and then checked in to the hotels  where we were staying – Grenat and Ihary, one next to the another. When it got dark we had a nocturnal visit in Ranomafana forest, to watch some animals active at night – nocturnal lemurs, chameleons and frogs. After the walk we got back to the village to have a dinner with local music in the Ihary hotel.

Next day after longer sleep we started visiting Ambositra, gold mining area and some other places on the way to Ranomafana National Park. Google Maps.


Jarsolav Hrysl buying some specimens in Ambositra. M. Southwood photo.


Nice green tourmaline in matrix. E. Petrides photo.


Butchers shop in Ambositra. R. Lang photo.


Driving South. E. Petrides photo.


We stopped close to Ambositra to visit alluvial gold mining area. E. Petrides photo.


Artisanal way of gold mining. M. Ng photo.


Gold panning. R. Lang photo.


The pan is wooden! Have you ever seen something like that? E. Petrides photo.


We moved farther south. Part of Polish crew (Agata, Slawek and Barbara) at the view point. S. Szlinke photo.


Angela and Malcolm & Ronna and John at the view point. M. Southwood photo.


On the way to Ranomafana. L.Albin photo.


We stopped on our way to visit village specializing in traditional black-smithing. E. Petrides photo.


On the way to Ranomafana. R. Lang photo.


On the way to Ranomafana. R. Lang photo.


In Ranomafana we had a very fancy lunch! T. Praszkier photo.


Ranomafana National Park protects the rain forest with many endemic species of lemurs. S. Szlinke photo.


Same evening we went to a night tour to see nocturnal animals. S. Szlinke photo.


Big spider. C. Voogt photo.


Nocturnal frog. R. Zeilstra photo.


Cameleon. M. Southwood photo.


Cameleon. K. Doxsee photo.


Cameleon. C. Voogt photo.


Different species of cameleon. S. Szlinke photo.


Big cameleon. E. Petrides photo.


That is a nice color! E. Petrides photo.


Snake in the front of one of our bungalows! Nice visitor ... M. Ng photo.


Dinner in Ranomafanana. M. Ng photo.


Our drivers having a small party too. M. Rahm photo.


    Day 7

   The next day in the morning we started our visit to the Ranomafana National Park at 8 am. While we were eating, an amazing moth came to the restaurant and sat on the curtain! It’s called a Comet moth (Argema mittrei), and is one of the biggest silk moths in the world. It was really big and beautiful, an intense yellow color. This amazing animal only lives for 4-5 days. We had 3 hours walk through the jungle on really well prepared trails admiring the endemic wildlife – lemurs, birds and reptiles. Everyone was excited to see the lemurs that Madagascar is famous for! After the visit we drove to the south-east, to Anja Park. There were marvellous landscapes on the way, so we stopped a few times to take photos. We had lunch in Anja Park restaurant. Anja is not a national park it’s a community-run park. The tour led through bush and large rock formations, very scenic. We saw a lot of ring-tail lemurs and plants different than those we saw before, adapted to the dry southern climate. After almost 3 hours walk we drove to Ambalavao village, where were staying in Bougainvillers Hotel. For dinner we had traditional Malagasy food which was really delicious. It consisted mainly of zebu (beef), rice, manioc and beans.


Next morning during breakfast we had a very unique visitor, Comet moth, world biggest (up to 25 cm!) K. Doxsee photo.


Comet moth. R. Zeilstra photo.


After breakfast we visited Park. E. Petrides photo.


River in the rain forest. M. Ng photo.


Walking through the Park. S. Szlinke photo.


Cameleon from the Brookesia group - the smallest known in the world. Adult specimens reach 2-3 cm only. M. Ng photo.


One of very common species of geckos. I. Chau photo.


Rare gekco Euryplatus. E. Petrides photo.


Rare gekco Euryplatus. K. Doxsee photo.


Bamboo lemur in the Park. R. Lang photo.


Jumping lemur. M. Ng photo.


Mangoose in the Park. R. Lang photo.


Mangoose in the Park. R. Lang photo.


After Ranomafana we drove to visit Anja park. Google Maps.


On the way to Anja Park. E. Petrides photo.


On the way to Anja Park. J. Veevaert movie.


The area where Anja is located is rich in granite boulders, the climate here is very different than in Ranomafana. R. Lang photo.


Anja Park. R. Lang photo.


Palm fruits in Anja. C. Voogt photo.


Giant grasshopper. M. Ng photo.


Chameleon in Anja Park. M. Ng photo.


Chameleon in Anja Park. R. Lang photo.


Symbol of Madagascar - Ring-tailed lemur (Catta). R. Lang photo.


Catta lemur. R. Lang photo.


Catta lemur. R. Lang photo.


Catta lemur. R. Zeilstra photo.


Catta lemur. L. Albin photo.


Catta lemur. R. Lang photo.


Catta lemurs playing in the Park. J. Veevaert movie.


Ken Doxsee taking photo of the endemic Pachypodium known as Elephant foot. E. Petrides photo.


Endemic plants in the Park. J. Rakovan photo.


Our group attacking one of the boulders. M. Southwood photo.


Great view point! M. Southwood photo.


Landscapes around. R. Lang photo.


Michael and Judith leaving the Park. E. Petrides photo.


We spent this night in Ambalavao town. Google Maps.


We had traditional Malagasy food for the dinner ... J. Scovil photo.


... with flaming bananas and pineapples! J. Scovil photo.




Thanks, Tom! Your trip reports are always a pleasure to read (and watch) :-)
2014-08-12 20:34:34
30km in 6 hrs :-) ! dedicated mineral travellers
2014-12-02 19:41:02

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