After a long break, time has come for another adventure. We decided to go to Madagascar. Unfortunately, our much-loved Jeep had to stay at home this time around. There was rental 4x4 vehicle waiting for us, a classic fly-and-drive journey, but in off-road vehicle. January was the peak of the rainy season. Honestly, we did not know what to expect, except for the rain of course. We were prepared to drive on roads in poor condition and some mud on off-road trails. We had prepared a detailed route for this trip, but before leaving home, it was hard to predict how far in fact we could get in our rental car.
Why go to Madagascar? It seemed quite exotic for us. We have never been to Africa before and Madagascar is an island difficult to visit in your own vehicle. Why not fly there, rent a 4x4, and be independent? The ideas of our off-road expeditions were still in our minds. It is difficult to bring typical equipment needed on such journeys, yet we could not expect that it would be provided to us along with a rental car. We reduced the list of things to bring to an absolute minimum and we decided that we would stay in hotels during this trip.
The most difficult part of our preparations was finding a rental car. All the companies offer vehicles packaged with driver that would stay with you the entire journey. Many travelers may like that option. For those who desire to travel independently, it is a real problem. Self-drive rentals are almost non-existing in Madagascar. I was lucky to find Coen, a Dutchman who rents old Japanese 4x4 cars and has a small hotel.
Madagascar, the Red Island of Africa, is sometimes described this way not because of its socialist past, but because of the color of the local soil. This island was once covered almost entirely with green rainforest, but the slash-and-burn agricultural technique of local farmers has led to heavy erosion over time. Today, throughout the country, the reddish color dominates the soil. While driving there, red dust quickly covered all our belongings inside the cabin.