Madagascar

Island that time forgot

Print edition : February 14, 2020

Climbing the Tsingy stone forest, somewhere in the wildernesses of Madagascar. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam

The view from the makeshift platform at top is impressive: wherever one turns, one can see serrated grey rock pinnacles. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam

A swinging rope bridge spans a vertigo-inducing chasm in Tsingy, offering visitors photo opportunities. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam

Rush hour in the capital, Antananarivo. There is a stark difference between the elegant capital and the rustic simplicity of rural Madagascar. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam

The highlight of the Tsiribihina boat trip: The two nights spent camping on the river’s bank. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam

A church on the road to Andasibe. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam

Tourist vehicles use ferries on the Tsiribihina to reach the interior parts of Madagascar. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam

The boat trip entails a journey on a repurposed cargo boat. The river is full of sandbanks, and from time to time, the boat needs pushing. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam

Exquisite Malagasy handicrafts made with rattan, raffia and fibre. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam

En route to Tsingy, at a village called Begidro, a young girl engaged in making an elaborate coiffure for her friend. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam

Many girls paint their faces with ground bark to keep their skin cool and soft. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam

Madagascar gained its independence from French rule in 1960. Here, the Independence Monument in the capital. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam

Malagasy wind instrument. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam

Breakfast being prepared in Antseraraka village. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam

At the market in Morondava. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam

At the market in Morondava. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam

Zebu (humped cattle) returning home at sunset after grazing. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam

A ring-tailed mongoose. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam

Mineral-rich Madagascar boasts a primordial limestone forest and a range of exotic fauna, among them 120 species of lemurs, and flora, but it is still one of the poorest countries in the world where the majority of its eclectic population lives on around $1.25 a day.
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