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Madagascar on a scooter | Part 5 | Excursion + Boat Trip in Bekopaka and Tsingy

Who gets it in their head to buy a second-hand scooter in the capital of Madagascar to buy? To travel more than 4.000 km over this enormous island? No one before me had ever come up with this idea. I just did it and discovered the real Madagascar. Travel with me to the Red Island and get to know the baobabs, lemurs, chameleons, snow-white beaches and above all the hospitable Malagasy: TONGA SOA.

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A massacre in Belo-sur-Tsiribihina

When the morning mist has lifted in Belo-sur-Tsiribihina, I look out from the balcony of my hotel room at a few hikers, a zebu cart or two and lots and lots of sand.

Hotel du Menabe in Belo-sur-Tsiribihina
Hotel du Menabe in Belo-sur-Tsiribihina
Morning in Belo-sur-Tsirihibina
Morning in Belo-sur-Tsirihibina

Two young men use a log to skin two slaughtered goats. They attract quite a bit of interest. There is not much else to do in the sleepy village.

Goat slaughter in Belo-sur-Tsiribihina
Goat slaughter in Belo-sur-Tsiribihina

A challenging course towards Bekopaka

Around half past nine I am called by Maylis. “My guides are ready. We leave for Bekopaka in five minutes.' George and Daniel introduce themselves. They are both professional guides and have been to Tsingy several times. “The road is still very bad. There are large puddles of water in many places. Sometimes you even need a local guide to follow the right track through a puddle. Otherwise you're bound to get stuck.'

Deep puddles on the way to Tsingy
Deep puddles on the way to Tsingy

It takes George more than four hours to cover a distance of barely 80 kilometers. With that I think I have said enough about the quality of the road. The last hurdle before Bekopaka is a ferry across the Manambolo River. That's another story. The ferry cannot moor on the bank. The water level is too low for that. George has to drive the all-terrain vehicle halfway across the river while keeping the right track otherwise he will get completely stuck.

Arrival of the ferry in Bekopaka
Arrival of the ferry in Bekopaka

Bekopaka and the hotel accommodation

Where you still get the feeling of being in a village in Belo-sur-Tsiribihina, that feeling is completely absent in Bekopaka. It is just a hamlet with a collection of huts. Followed by a number of tourist accommodations. I decide to take up residence in a nice hut in Tanankoay hotel and camping.

Welcome to Bekopaka
Welcome to Bekopaka
The village of Bekopaka
The hamlet of Bekopaka

In the afternoon it no longer makes sense to national park to visit. George explains why: 'The national park is divided between Klein and Groot Tsingy. However, the entrance fee plus compulsory guide is valid for one day and not for 24 hours. So it's much cheaper to visit both Tsingy's on the same day.'

We decide to relax for the rest of the afternoon. I'm ready for that after all those exciting days.

My cabin in Tanankoay hotel and camping
My cabin in Tanankoay hotel and camping

Excursion in Tsingy de Bemaraha

Around ten o'clock we arrive at the start of the hiking and climbing course of Grote Tsingy. Gerard is our park guide and explains what to expect. 'You are all wearing footwear with a sturdy sole. Slippers or the like are really out of the question. The rocky outcrops in Tsingy are razor sharp. No flip-flops like that.' We are all fitted with a climbing harness.

Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park
Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park

After half an hour of walking we arrived at the karst formation of Tsingy. It's a matter of climbing and clambering. Where you really walk over razor-sharp limestone rocky outcrops. Via the Via Ferrata you walk over bridges and ladders. Incidentally, there is no danger at all, because you always attach your clip to a rope and continue climbing safely.

A climbing bridge of the Via Ferrata
A climbing bridge of the Via Ferrata
Climbing razor-sharp rock peaks in Tsingy de Bemaraha
Climbing razor-sharp rock peaks in Tsingy de Bemaraha
View over the rocks of Tsingy de Bemaraha
View over the rocks of Tsingy de Bemaraha

After the climbing and clambering we take a leisurely walk through the wooded area around Tsingy. On our walk we meet the dwarf lemur and the beautiful Decken's sifaka (a lemur with a cute white fur and a black head).

Von der Decken Sifaka in Tsingy de Bemaraha
Von der Decken Sifaka in Tsingy de Bemaraha

A boat trip on the Manambola and Klein Tsingy

Three to four hours is really enough to get a good impression of Groot Tsingy. By midday it is already so hot that you no longer enjoy climbing or walking. So if you visit Tsingy, go as early as possible in the morning.

Around four we visit Klein Tsingy. We walk there for about an hour. No longer is necessary, because Klein Tsingy is exactly what the name says: a small version of Groot Tsingy. Just before sunset we end the day with a boat trip on the Manambolo River. Not far from Bekopaka are some beautiful caves.

Little Tsingy
Little Tsingy
A trip on the Manambolo river to the caves
A trip on the Manambolo river to the caves

Farewell to Tsingy and a delicious lunch at Mad Zebu

The way back from Bekopaka to Belo-sur-Tsiribihina is without many problems. At twelve I say goodbye to Maylis, George and Daniel. I decide to first visit Madagascar's best restaurant, Mad Zebu, for lunch.

Mad Zebu restaurant in Belo-sur-Tsiribihina
Mad Zebu restaurant in Belo-sur-Tsiribihina
Lunch at Mad Zebu
Lunch at Mad Zebu

To avoid a hike, I have my tank filled in Belo-sur-Tsiribihina. This should be sufficient for the 50 kilometers to Kirindy Village.

Malagasy Franc of Ariary (a brief explanation)

The Malagasy Franc was the legal tender in Madagascar until 2005. From 2005 the Franc has been replaced by the Airiary. However, especially in the villages, calculations are still made in Francs and not in Ariary (5 Franc is 1 Ariary). So always ask if you are not sure whether the price is in Franc or Ariary.

Refueling in Belo-sur-Tsirihibina with pricing in Franc (20.500) and Ariary (4.100)
Refueling in Belo-sur-Tsirihibina with pricing in Franc (20.500) and Ariary (4.100)

Three struts from Belo-sur-Tsiribihina to the other side are neatly lined up. A ferry consists of two pirogues with a raft on them. I park my scooter next to three cars and join the other passengers.

Three rafts on six pirogues at Belo-sur-Tsiribihina
Three rafts on six pirogues at Belo-sur-Tsiribihina
My scooter on the ferry from Belo-sur-Tsiribihina
My scooter on the ferry from Belo-sur-Tsiribihina

At two o'clock the ferry arrives on the other side. Time for another sandy adventure towards the fossas of Kirindy National Forest.

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Eric on a scooter in Uganda

Eric

What is it like to drive more than 10.000 kilometers in Madagascar on a locally bought scooter? Or on a pikipiki (scooter in Swahili) through East Africa? In more than 20 years I have visited more than 100 countries. This has resulted in a lot of priceless travel experiences, which I would like to share with you.

ERIC – OVER 100 COUNTRIES
– Currently in Kenya.
– Share unique travel experiences.
– Favorite destinations: Madagascar, Uganda, Japan, India and Colombia.

Seen a mistake? Ask? Remark? Let us know in the comments!

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Eric on a scooter in Uganda

Eric

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