Africa

Madagascar: Paradise lost?

Madagascar: Paradise lost?

by Betsy Herbert

I left Tanzania on September 15 bound for Madagascar, the fourth largest island in the world, where I would be on my own for 10 days. . . I was excited but wary. Why did I want to go to Madagascar? A popular travel guide describes Madagascar as follows:

"Lemurs, baobabs, rainforests, beaches, desert, trekking and diving: Madagascar is a dream destination for nature and outdoor lovers...and half the fun is getting to all these incredible attractions." -- Lonely Planet travel guide to Madagascar

Madagascar is made to sound like a paradise. But I knew from my own reading that deforestation, erosion, and water and air pollution were big environmental problems in Madagascar. I had keen interest in these problems, since forest management was the focus of my academic research and publications. I wanted to see Madagascar’s deforestation with my own eyes.

 

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“Jambo, jambo!” Wild times in Tanzania...

“Jambo, jambo!” Wild times in Tanzania...

by Betsy Herbert

As I stood on the border between Tanzania and Kenya in east Africa on September 1, the first day of our 15-day photo safari and tour, I had no idea how wild things would get. . .

Our tour group and guide. The tour was organized by Overseas Adventure Travel. When I arrived at the Kilimanjaro airport on August 31, I went directly to our hotel, the Kia Lodge, a collection of comfortable mud-walled, thatched-roof bungalows. It's only 5 minutes away from the airport. When I arrived, I was welcomed by smiling faces and endless greetings of “Jambo, jambo!”, meaning “hello” in Swahili.

Soon I met the other seven members of our tour group, who were gathering for the first meeting with our guide in the open-air dining room. As we all introduced ourselves, I was confident that I would be comfortable traveling with this group.

Our guide, Boniface Faustine, was a stocky, dark-skinned Tanzanian with a booming voice and an air of authority, but with an engaging smile and a ready laugh. As he began speaking, I felt lucky to have him as our guide.

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