ChamEO Madagascar Expedition 2017 | Part I

Monday, February 20, 2017
After several attempts at starting the Madagascar trip recount, I think I will begin just by extending my enormous gratitude to Elisa Hinkle of Chameleon Education and Outreach (ChamEO) for putting together this expedition for the ten of us. It could not have been easy to coordinate so many aspects of the trip and so many people from various cities, but the final result was a nearly flawless excursion through Madagascar. I say nearly flawless because there were certainly unexpected hiccups; such as losing Ryan only a few minutes after entering the country to the Malagasy customs agents, who had swooped him away for questioning in French! Or the fever of 102° that started with me on only our second night and spread to everyone else throughout the remainder of the trip. But despite the little unforeseeables, losing about 10 lbs, and getting tagged by leeches, the trip was a resounding success for me.

I will be dividing up the photographs into blog parts, as I came back with over 900 photos and 30 videos and cannot possibly post them all!

Day 1: Arrive in Antananarivo

After many more hours than humanly tolerable on planes and in airports, we all landed together in the Antananarivo airport, at about 3pm local time. A tiny airport, I would have expected it to be a regional airport in Central America and not the airport belonging to a country's capital. We disembarked the plane and walked across the tarmac into the airport, quickly passing through passport control, the visa purchase, and (for some of us) customs. About half the group walked through to the exit of the airport, where our guide Hery waited. The other half stayed inside the airport to purchase SIM cards for their phones, and this is where we first lost Ryan. After the realization that we did not, in fact, have Ryan with us still, Elisa and Hery ran back into the airport and were ale to locate him inside a questioning room, where he was being asked in French about the laptops in his bag. The matter was resolved and we were able to depart the airport and head towards the first stay of the trip, Villa Sybille. 

The first chameleon of the trip, a female Oustalet's (F. oustaleti

Another group member, Attila, emplored that we head back into the city center to see the Sunday evening illegal bird market. About half of us left to go see it while Elisa, her daughter April, and others stayed behind to cook dinner for all of us. The bird market was a bit of an exageration, perhaps, and after another 40 minutes sitting in a bus I was pretty underwhelmed! But alas, we took some photos and returned to the Villa. 

Day 2: Head South Towards Antsirabe

The following morning we awoke after a much-needed full night of sleep and boarded the bus through morning traffic in Antananarivo on our way south, towards our stop that night in Antsirabe. The first few photos are of Via Sybille and then the city as we drove out into the country. 

The landscape in the highlands here is a mix of mountains and rice patties, nearly the only crop we saw for miles and miles. Amazingly, there weren't any mosquitoes at all! That really shocked me, but I didn't really feel mosquitoes at all the entire trip.

We stopped at a restaurant that specialized in foie gras, which, if you've never had before, is either something you love or you hate. I grew up on the stuff, so I was excited to have it again but many in the group were not as convinced! Some also tried a little pepper that was the most horrible thing Elisa says she's ever tried, spiciness-wise. I don't know if it's a legitimate name, but Hery said they were called "cockdarts," so for the rest of the trip being cockdarted was a thing.

Some children happy to receive goody-bags Evan and Melissa prepared.

Our guide Hery purchased some Madagascar lovebirds so that we could release them into the wild again. 

Then close to evening time we arrived at our second hotel, Eco Lodge Les Chambres Du Voyageur in Antsirabe, which was probably the second-nicest hotel we stayed at the entire trip. It was beautifully landscaped, and we saw various chameleons and tortoises running free on the property. Once we were all settled in we brought out the vanilla rum and cokes!


  1. Keep it coming! I'm starving for more on this trip!

  2. Madagascar is the heaven for animals ...I have seen a movie about Madagascar..It's so impressive. I really want to buy a house there.

  3. Nice to see a post from you and not just a nice comment on my blog. You've been making beautiful progress at least. Keep it up.

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