What can we say? The itinerary, guides and drivers were all spot on. We enjoyed all the parks on the way down to Tulear and managed to see most types of Lemur and Sifakas including several that only come out at night. Snakes, Chameleons, stick insects, birds....wildlife at evyer turn. The highlights of the trip? Too many to mention really. We loved Ranomafana - helped by it being Heri's home town - and saw a huge amount of wildlife. Swimming in the pool in Isalo and the walk up the "hidden canyon" to the waterfalls at the top. The faded spleandour of Antisirabe. We also loved Gilles' place - helped by him hosting us and giving us a personal guided tour of the trees (we didn't mind at all that the second room wasn't completed, but the views from the balcony are immense!). So sad about the fire the week after we left. Le Paradisier was exquisite - slightly odd being the only guests - and the trip out with the local fisherman ended with the most amazing grilled lobster on the beach up at their village (well negotiated by Tom). We tried Whale watching but only saw dolphins - probably the only time we failed in our quest to see the wildlife we were after. Heri and Tsiry were great. Heri was never short of information or general chatter and he & Melanie got on like a house on fire - between them they managed to continue a conversation the whole time we were travelling. Indeed we didn't realise that Tsiry spoke much English until he picked us up in Tana for our last day! I cannot recommend them highly enough. Faultless. Every evening when we arrived at a new place, they would head off into town and arrange our guide for the next day - we always had the best guides & spotters available thanks to Heri's pre-planning.
But the trip to the Tsingy was the tops. We had a night in Tulear courtesy of Air Mad and them met Fred and our new driver (his name escapes me and the boys aren't around to remind me) at Morondava. What a trip up to Bekopaka! The driver was again perfect - and the ferries were amazing. We were lost for words in the Tsingy. Fred managed to negotiate his way around a Park guides strike in the Petit Tsingy and then the Grand Tsingy was jaw-dropping. The Soleil des Tsingy was luxury - we met a Dutch family who had driven there from Tana and whose children were refusing to get back in the car! Fred was great on our final day back in Morandava and then it was so nice to see Tsiry again when we got back to Tana - and we also got to meet Manantena.
And all through the people were so friendly, so welcoming and we certainly fell in love with Madagascar. While we were certainly isolated from the problems of the country, we got a good feel for the people, landscape and wildlife and felt so sad that there were so few tourists and so much corruption in the country....but we've certainly been signing its praises ever since we got home. We felt perfectly safe the whole time except in the Lower Town in Tana...but we were ready for that!
In summary - all the hotels and guest houses were superb....from Hotel Aty & Cristo right up to Le Paradisier & Soleil des Tsingy (with the small exception of Espace Zongo which didn't have the character or welcome of the others). And the guides & drivers - immense!