Created: 10 December 2008
"I'm going to Madagascar!" I'd tell people gleefully."The movie?""No, THE COUNTRY."
And people would scratch their head, not quite knowing where Madagascar is on the map. So let me help you. Just wander over 12,000 miles by plane (approximately 26 hours of flying and 10 hours of layovers in Dallas and Paris), through 3 continents and enough time zones to screw up your sleeping patterns for at least a week. Madagascar is a country just east of South Africa, separated by the Mozambique Channel on one side and the Indian Ocean on the other, an island that floats peacefully isolated and is blissfully ignorant of the rest of the world.
I was honored to be invited to travel there by Conservation International and the Madagascar Tourism Board as one of only 10 international tour operators that best represent responsible tourism practices in the world. The 10-day itinerary was designed for us to hit the ground running from Day 1, and for the next nine days, we scoured the country testing standards for hotels, guiding practices, infrastructure, etc, often with schedules that got us up and running from 5:30 am and had us straggling into our hotel rooms well after 10 pm. The final verdict: it is in desperate need of reformation, but is making the right strides to get there...eventually.