Day 4: Ranomafana National Park and Arboretum
By now I was feeling much better; the fever was essentially gone, all that remained was a cough and some fatigue. Nothing that was going to keep me from participating in as many of the day's activities as possible! This was going to be our first serious hike through jungle so we loaded the bus early in the morning after breakfast and headed up towards the Ranomafana National Park, only a handful of miles from our hotel.
A quick note here about the coffee in Madagascar... I don't ask for much, I really don't. I think I'm an easy traveler. However, the coffee everywhere in this country was really, honestly, pretty terrible. I certainly don't profess to know why, but after four days of drinking just the minimum amount of dark brown liquid that passed itself as coffee in order to function, I was really craving a good Cuban cafe con leche pick-me-up. So consider yourself, warned; it's not the mosquitoes and diseases that you should be worried about, it's the abysmal coffee.
Along the road, a major highway (believe it or not), we saw drives of zebu cattle making their way in from the coast. It's a 40-day walk, and the herders make the entire journey on foot beside their animals. We didn't have a single steak or piece of beef all trip that wasn't zebu meat, and clearly it's the livestock of choice across the country.