Friday, 30 August 2013

BICYCLE Madagascar 29aug13

bicycled out of town,past the church,then out on rural untarred roads.lots of little villages,with small road side shops and small houses.
most locals walk.some bicycles,a few scooters,occasional vehicle
lots of washing out drying.regular wells for locals to get their water
lots of happy children out playing
no obesity
lots of women in groups,wearing colourful clothes,often with one woman braiding another womans hair
and they all seem happy and content
so a low GDP does not mean unhappiness,as a high GDP does not mean happiness
back into town.other transport options are a trucks,old minivans,older Renault 4 cars,little tuk tuks and bicycle cabs.shops are mainly old timber,some brightly painted,hardware and tourist shops,tin or thatched rooves,colourful cafes,a new 2 story building where we got internet for dongle,and phone sim card.
in the back streets the shops are smaller and rougher,selling 2nd hand clothes,food stalls,bicycle repair shops .
the local market is good for tomatos,carrots,potatos and bananas.we bought a kilo of Zebu fillet steak


We hired little motor scooters to go the 15 km to bottom of this island.on the way we passed lots of beach side resorts and villages.then we hired a pirogue to cross over to ile aux nattes to find some lemurs.the island is only 2 km across.we found 2 groups of BLACK AND WHITE RUFF LEMURS.They were very pretty animals


We  pulled anchor and had a very brisk sail,7-8 knots,with only genoa out,to capitol of ile sainte marie island,ambodifotatra.
this is a small port and town
checked in with customs,coastguard and immigration.
at the small boat harbour,we chained our dinghy to a tree,employed a boat boy,and walked the town
at the atm we got Ariah,yhe local currency,baguettes at the patisserie,and cheese and local beer at the supermarket

Thursday, 29 August 2013


Why are we in Madagascar? well its the best route to South Africa.
and its a new country.we want to see a new culture,lemurs and baobab trees.
the lonely planet tells me:
population 20 million
a very "poor" country,(my italics-see cycling blog to follow)
high birth rate
populated 2000nyears ago from asia,then arab and African contributions.they look more African to us.
 A long island,about 1000 km north to south,about 400 km across.
they eat rice 3 times a day.with lunch ,dinner may also have meat.local cattle are called Zebu
in the 1600,s the Malagasy kings exported 150,000 slaves!
French from 1896 to independence1958
turbulent political history
main languages French and Malagasy.Signs in french

SAIL to MADAGASCAR august 2013

Another easy Indian Ocean crossing.
400nm,770km,4 days,3 nights.
the weather forcast said a good window of mild weather and was correct.on the 2nd and third day the wind was behind,so we poled out genoa one side,with mainsail out the other.the wind came around and was stronger day 4,so nice hydrovane sailingat an easy 6 knots.
our prepared pork stew,with daily additions and variations sustained us across,plus Kerry baked bread
Kerry reading a book set in france called Provence.Bruce read Baldacci and Manlell thrillers on Kindle.
we kept in contact with Green Ghost who were crossing with us,on twice daily HF sked.As we closed shore Tegan 1 called in on VHF-yhey got here a week before.
we saw a few ships on AIS.We only saw one ship visually,no fishing boats,no planes,no rubbish in different from sailing in asia.
Late pm day 4 we sighted land,= Madagascar! As we came around below the little island of Ile aux Nattes,skirting the extensive fringing reef, we entered a large pod of WHALES!
Breeding season,so not unexpected.lots of spouts,breechings and near sightings.
We dropped anchor off ILE SAINTE MARIE,just before sunset.GGcame in ,in the dark,afew hours later,and dropped anchor next to us.
So another good passage ,and safe arrival,at another new country

Monday, 19 August 2013



We hope to cross mid september,but need a good weather window,between the southerly gales thar blow up from below south africa regularly
We will enjoy sailing around NOSY BE,then island hopping south,to BALY BAY, near Majunga,then start crossing Mozambique channel.
Via bassas da india,aimfor south Mozambique,but only go inshore if bad weather.
Then down to RICHARDS BAY
Will be very relieved to get there.plan to leave boat and go and see lions and tigers


Good reports,and shorter crossing.little island below, ILE AUX NATTES,said to be very pretty.also whales and calves
Looking forward to new country and new peoples
Wait for good weather window to go over top,which often has rough conditions,to protected waters of NOSY BE.
Looking forward to dry warm weather,easy sailing,many pretty islands,lemurs and boabab trees,and clear water snorkelling

Trip plan,sail from Reunion to Madagascar,thursday 22/08/2013,about 400nm,750km.

Sophie and Chris at 6000 metres in Bolivia,august,2013

Test 20aug

LA NOUVELLE to CILAOS,fay 4,14/08/2013

From cirque de mafate,over col du taibit,back to cilaos
14km,6km ascending,,6km descending,with 2 km on the flat(per Philippe again)
Off at nice early in day,not worth waiting for gite breakfast.
Spectacular scenary,up and down,watching sunrise cast huge shadows on cliffs,.
After 2hoursstarted seeing MARLA ahead.a very pretty smaller village.we had a french breakfast,shared with some village goats,then stopped at epicerie for fresh baguettes ,passed the recycling station= in big bags for helicopter,then looked up at pass between the 2 cirques.
It was a steep.  2 hour climb to COL DU TAIBIT.we were rewarded with a fabulous view both ways.
Then a 2 hour descent to bus stop,at D 242 road,where 5 minutes later we caughtbthe bus to CILAOS
Amazing hairpin road,in luxery pink bus.
At cilaos,waited 5 minutes,and caught bus to had lunch on bus,baguette and dates,and admired the stunning scenary,and skill od bus driver- another pink large luxery bus,with narrow twisty road,more hairpin bends,and tight tunnels.
So nice to get back to  Haven,shower,early dinner and bed.
A fabulous 5 days of hiking the 3Cirques,and ascending the highest mountain,.

HELL-BOURG to LA NOUVELLE,day 3,Reunion,aug2013

14 km,8 hours walking,17 km,ascend 900m,descend 1200 m,not much flat(thanks to philippe for this info)
Looked out of our gite dorm at. 0600 and saw stars and clear predawn sky.walked down to patissarie for breakfast at. 0630  -3 hot coffees and some nice pastries.CAught  0707 bus to Ilet -a-Vidot,saving 1/2 walk along road.Started walking about 0730-uphill.lovely stop at Le Grand Sable,on river edge for morning snack.
Then up through a magic forest of pines,ferns and so much moss/ lichen - real hobbit land
Then more up,g to the pass between the. 2 cirques,COL DE FOURCHE
Great view down into Cirue de Mafate,the smallest,surrounded by steep mountains,no cars or roads,just walking paths,and la nouvelle in the distance
Descent,to PLANE des TAMARINS.magic twisted old trees draped in lichen,some clear areas of yellow grass,otherwise very green,with lots of logs to make path for wet dry,so no mud,and pretty
Then a long descent to the little village of LA NOUVELLE.arrived at dusk,sat and enjoyed the ambience,with a cold DoDo beer.small colourful wooden buildings,separated by neat grass,no cars,no roads,no power poles.
A lovely,tiring,long day.
Found our gite,a small green hut with 2bedrooms.the other couple were young sth africans,who promptly made us coffees on the verandah ,on their camping stove
We shared a pleasant gite dinner with them.marius and esme got our contact details so they could visit us on Haven in le port later

Friday, 16 August 2013


It took about an hour to descend.with the sun up,we could see lovely scenary going down,initially the red volcanic rock,then down to the treeline,short twisted alpine trees draped with lichen,with ice glinting on the trail and rocks,then the gite came into view,looking very remote,with a distant mountain backdrop.
French breakfast in the lodge,just 4slices of bread,butter and jam,but the bowl of coffee was magic.
At Volcan,our tent bungalw,we packed up,and then set off for Hell-bourg.
For 2hourswewalked through alpins scrub,to CAP A!ANGLAIRE. On the edge o big cliff is a rock with a big white irin cross,a little shrine,and a view over CIRQUE de SALAZIE.
Well,a partial view,with rapidly moving cloud.
A great spot for lunch.baguette,salami stick and cheese.
Then the descent.the sign said 2hoursto hell-bourg.then we started meeting people coming up who said 4hours.they were right!the sign is wrong
A very hard,steep descent.but micro scenary of ferns and moss was least it wasn,t raining and wet
So tired when we got to bottom.a lovely lady drove us into town ,and our gite
Lovely gite.we were in a dorm with a young french couple.nearly all the tourists and walkers we met were frenck dinner we were with 5young people from france,who spoke some english.rice lentils,chicken stew,free wine and rum,then live creole worth the long slog.
ready to hike down ,breakfast,then another 6 hours to Hellbourg

day 2.PITON DES NEIGES.12/08/13


Summit just before sunrise
This was the highlight of our cirque hiking trip
When we looked out at 0415and saw clear skies and stars we were so pleased.all 8 in tent bungalow got up ,for early climb to summit.we started about 4.45
A sready 2hour climb to top in dark,head torches lighting up the trail,with white paint markers,and glistening ice
Arrived at summit before sunrise.scenary in predawn was amazing.the obligatory cairn with prayer flag pole  added to the great atmosphere.about a dozen before us,maybe. 50 after

DAY 1 -GITE de laCAVERNE DUFOUR.11/08/13

on gite balcony,dresses warmly for dinner

4 day hike of the 3 cirques,and climb tallest mountain

We drove down to tourist office to book the 4 gites for our hike in the mountains.we used the local planet TOUR DES CIRQUES itinery,to walk the 3  cirques,and climb the tallest mountain.
On their advice we shortened one 2 day stretch into one day ,avoiding a road section.
Also booked gite in Cilaos for the night before the 4 day hike
Get dinner and breakfast at gites.can get baguettes,and take cheese,salami etc for lunches
They had a colourful relief of cirques on desk,which I took pic of with ipad,just need how to get it onto blog.

CILAOS 10/08/13

CILAOS,surronded by cloud covered mountains

We left haven early,walking to le port bus station,thru town with backpack and trekking poles.nice bus to st louis( typing this listening toNOSTALGI   98. 10 FM,reunion radio,having just cooked a roast chicken,waiting for kerry to finnish her shower,drinking a glass of nice cask wine from chile(too much detail?) and they have just played bob marley,beatles,chris rea( one of my tops) and ... House of the rising son,sung in french.  - this is a lovely island)
-had some cofees and caught bus to CILAOS,in cirque de cilaos.what an amazing bus ride.what a great bus driver.big pink bus does narrow mountain road with hairpin steep bends.and goes through tunnels with cms to spare either side
Cilaos so patisserie- got baguettes for immediate lunch,found our gite,depacked,and headed for the hills
As a warmup we hiked for several hours,thru town,past pretty white church,with cloud covered mountains curtain,out of town,to start of hiking trail proper,several hours return ,so uphill all the way to Marvellous Rock,for a marvellous view of Cilaos.then dscent back.good practice for next 4days.
Back at our colourful gite,a nice hot shower,then a wine in dining area before tea,then a lovely meal,with free wine,and rum.we ate with a french group with a local guide,doing 6days hiking.philippe spoke english and was great to talk to.they had already done 2of the days we were going to fo,so helpful info

Kerry looking at cirque de cilaos map for our hike up to Marvelous Rock

view of cilaos after 1 hour hike up

our shower,and lovely meal,with wine ,and a nice


"Sydney Opera House"=marina office,just across from Haven
We had a lovely sundowners on Haven,with this view just opposite us,till sunset
We had 13 people in the cockpit of Haven,so nice and intimate and
Petima-peter and ainsell,german and irish
Island coyote  -pascale and mimi,french,from mauritius
Lotus- co and carla,dutch
All crossing this year
& Robert & Nicole,and her work friend MArion,both frenchwho had spent 10 months in australia,and loved it,and 2 more from reunion
So very multicultural
We went through 3 large baguettes with pate and cheese,
And opened the french wine robert gave us in Rodriuges
A memorable fun evening with sailors and friends


The vocano summit and the way there
Up for  the. 0600 gite breakfast,the only cooked gite breakfast we got,and very nice.
Short drive to PAS de BELLECOMBE carpark,but could have walked.overcast and cold,but off we went.initial lava scenary good,but then came the rain,cold rain.
after several uphill hours,arrived at volcano summit,for ... No view! So had lunch in a little craterhoping weather would did briefly,took some pics,and set off on long hike back
Halfway back the sun came out.we were too tired,wet and cold toturn around.however scenary became amazing - the lava lit up,looking back up summit,the red crater on the brown plain.
Back in the car we had a thermos of hot water.after. 3 coffees each,and a big chocolate hit,we were resuscitated,and had another great drive back to boat

Wednesday, 7 August 2013


This was a great day and soon
We were heading for the GITE DU VOLCAN,our lodge at the base of PITON DE LA FOURNAISE.
Love the grand sounding french titles
So otherwise LE VOLCAN,the volcano.
Set off in our little french diesel car,down the scenic freeway,to st pierre,then headed inland,going uphill.from the indian ocean scenary,to sugarcane hills,with little villages.
Stopped to get baguette,and also bought a bbq chicken,cooked on outdoor oven. - both together so nice for lunch,altho chicken so salty,typical of most creole food ,we found.
We found the little diesel so suited for the steep ,narrow mountain roads with hairpin bends.
Then we went through a lovely alpine forest of stately pines,above which was another distinct layer of scenary....
Alpine meadows,of lush green grass,with well fed french cattle,above which...
We came to the volcanic scenary,stopping at le crater commensure ,a large hole in ground,with fast moving cloud and a rainbow.
Then stopped at signpost and viewpoint,BELVEDEREdu NEZ de BOEUF( not sure what it means but sounds great) for fabulous views over PLAINE DES SABLES,a wide windswept red plain made of ashes,with descending cloud and another rainbow,and the main volcano crater,and the outer crater and our road,across to ....
our sunset and raining and glad to find our dorm,get back to dining room,predinner DODO beers,write a few postcards.
Communal meal,sit where nametag rum and best food of gites.early night


We set off in our little french car to drive around Reunion.
1st stop ST PAUL.most coastal towns are named after saints and have pretty churches,a catholic country.good market on the seaside,restocked with nice fruit and veges.
2nd stop,ST PIERRE?picnic lunch overlooking marina.
MARINA was interesting.if seas are too big,as they were this day,there are breakers at the entrance,precluding passage in or,we are happy to be at Le Port,where there is a constany stream of recreational boats in and out every day,to the protected BAY de st PAUL
Then round south,up west coast,to POINTE DE TREMBLET,where lava from volcano eruption flowed into sea,in 1986.weird scenary,amazing ripples in lava,black rock meets blue sea.
2km north,reach place where lava cut road for 3months in 2007,flowing all the way to sea.another bizarre,barren,primal landscape.not much further north,came to LE GRAND BRULEE.a 6km wide volcanic plain,the main area/usual area of lava flows ,from the volcano.the slopes above,Les Grande Pentes,have been sending down lava,for thousands of years.
Final stop,NOTRE DAMDES CAVES!in Piton Ste-Rose,a very pretty little church( will load photo later), where lava flow went throuhgh village in 1977, split when it came to chuch,and reformed on the other side.
Back via st Denis,after dark,to Haven

St DENIS,Reunion,1aug13

Photos to follow
St  DENIS is the the capitol.we drove over in our little french diesel citroen hire car,on the spectacular new freeway,built between cliffs and sea.We had a picnic lunch in a park surrounded by lovely old public buildings.looks european.then to tourist office,in an old creole mansion,beautiful building,one of many.
Got info on hiking the mountains and the volcano. bought 2books on hiking 
Plan to go back and do the historical walking tour


While in Rodriuges a catamaran arrived.It was called MARGOT
As I was ashore,I went over to say hello ,with 2 fresh baguettes,and-a large cold bottle of the local Phoenix beer .
Robert,had just bought the cat in noumea,and with no prior sailing experience,with his brother and a friend,was bringing it back to reunion,where he lived,and where the previous owner had departed..
So a circumnavigationIn the cockpit was a200 litre drum for extra diesel.they had stopped twice to refuel-in thePacific and port moresby PNG!and dropped anchor twice-to sleep,in torres strait.they were refueling,but not stopping in rodriuges.before leaving robert gave me his tel number and a bottle of french wine,and said to catch up in Reunion
When we got to Reunion,Margot,his cat was tied up just in front of us,and Robert came over the next day for coffee and chat and invited us to dinner at his home later in week
Dinner at his house was a great night,with his partner Nicole,son Pierre,and pascale and mimi,from island coyote,lovely house in the hill,fabulous food and to follow
Robert plans to circumnavigate in a few years.
Since then they have been to our boat,and alaso to Island coyote for drinks,and there has been one more dinner at roberts house,this time also came petima,green ghost,and the 3island coyote children,teddy,william and swan.
We hope to rRobert&Nicole ,on Margot,inAustralia one day!

ARRIVE REUNION-30july,2013

An easy overnight motorsail-little wind,or swell.could see the lights of reunion before dawn.easy entrance to Le Port.long rectangular basin,with marina down far end,.marina staff directed us to raft up to a catamaran as marina full.nice still water,and hills and mountains above to follow.
immigration came the next day.
The cat was called Island Coyote,and had left mauritius with us.we now chatted to Pascale &Mimi,and found out that they had just started their circumnavigation!

With help from lonely planet
A french territory, since 1648
Population 800,000,60% creole,25% indian,rest european and chinese
Language very french,some creole.french street and road signs,and they drive on other side of road.
Sugar cane,fish,and tourism,but large subsidy from france
Modern with good infrasructure.
new freeway 1/2way around island.most cars are newish,little french diesels.good for the steep twisty hill /mountain roads.supermarkets-french food-wines,cheeses,baguettes,even eggs and beef from france
About 50km diameter.fringing reef.grey black rock coast,some blach sand/pebble beaches,then sugarcane hills,then the central mountains,and volcano down south.

LIONS HEAD WALK ,mauritius 28 july 2013

This was an excellent day walk.we went with GG.Nick drove the little black hire car.
we paid to park in a private sugarcane carpark,.the family children then walked 1st part with us,( photo later) showing us an initial better route up.
Stopped at rocky outcrop for great views over coast and sugarcane fields.
Then upwards,almost to summit,stopping for lunch at viewpoint,where cloud came and went,but when went,a fabulous vista,over ocean,with colourful local sailing boats,with fringing reef beyond,and between,a lovely pattern of sugarcane fields,yellow ripe,green growing and brown ploughed,with little towns and a white indian temple.magic.
Then a steep hairy scramble to the summit,where the view was .......
All white,a white out!
Then a big descent,back to car,start driving home,stop at little indian coffee,and a  2 nd lunch.
Usual enjoyable sugarcane field s scenary on trip back

Black river peak,le morne ,naval museum mahebourg 25 july13

another nice day in Mauritius
Set off in little white car,with GG,nick and jenn,nick driving.plan to hike tallest mountain/ hill on Mauritius
Overcast so initial change of plan.went to LE MORNE.a coastal rock monolith on S W coast,.a nice spot for lunch on the beach
Still inclement so  h was our next stop.on S W coast,site of initial dutch settlement,and later famous naval battle,famous because the french beat the English.however,England took Mauritius shortly thereafter.
There was a naval museum there in a stately old 2 story mansion,which was good value( and free)
Weather improving so headed for black river national park.a wet track thru dense low trees,uphill,then a mad scramble to the summit!!!!,where the view was  ........
All white! A white out.a windy white out.
So didnt linger on mauritius 's highestbpoint
A wet slippery walk back with rain
Not our best walk,but a nice day