Heading South in Madagascar

We still have a few days, and a few interesting stories, to tell about our travels in Madagascar. After our trip to Komba, where we saw our first Lemurs, we headed back to Crater Bay. We had heard several boats we know had arrived. We got to see the crews of s/v Solar Planet and s/v LeuCat who had left on the northern route across the Indian Ocean and we last saw 6 or so months earlier. We spent a day making another trip by taxi to Hellville and got more provisions, and bought a few jerry jugs of fuel. I borrowed another set of jerry jugs and made one more trip before our time was up with the taxi. The rest of the afternoon was spent loading the fuel and returning the jugs we borrowed.

Northwest Madagascar

Northwest Madagascar

We planned to travel with s/v Solace to start heading south. They also wanted to get to Richards Bay by early October. You can travel several days down the NW coast of Madagascar to get closer to South Africa, so we planned to go at least as far as Mahajanga. The map here shows the coast line and some of the stops we made. It would end up taking us 6 days to get to Mahajanga.

Unknown fish

Unknown fish

We headed the next day for Russian Bay – named that because a russian boat broke down in the bay in the early 1900s and the men ended up enjoying the place, and the women, so much they stayed. It has well-protected smaller bays within it. We got there by mid-day (since it was a short trip) and were pleased to find you could still pick up Internet from Hellville in the bay we chose. The most unique thing we saw there were these strange fish that swim sideways (flat) and look like a miniature manta-ray, but then if you startle them they turn vertical. At first I was thinking a flounder, but they have 1 eye on each side. Very strange. I got this picture with an underwater camera. I couldn’t find it in our fish books.

We had a visit from an enterprising local named “Paul” who does tours for visiting yachts of the Russian Bay area. He has prepared a book using a computer and Google Earth to illustrate his hikes with pictures, and boat cards and comments from happy customers. I give him an “A” for good marketing, but we planned to leave the next day so had to decline.

The next day we motored out of Russian Bay and then set sail. We rounded the NW tip and started southwest. Winds were light in the morning so we were sailing slow. Solace put up their spinnaker. Near mid-day we would be getting near a pretty looking island called Nosy Iranja with a white sand-spit joining two pieces of land. Solace suggested we stop there for a while and we agreed. On the way, we saw a couple of motor boats bringing tourists from Hellville and headed to Iranja – must be an attraction. The winds picked up and we sailed first into Iranja. We were greeted with a beautiful white sand beach and turquoise waters in front of it and we dropped the hook. Wow! Beautiful!

Nosy Iranja

Nosy Iranja and s/v Solace

We soon went ashore and there were a number of tourists walking the beach, we could see a small set of buildings on one side and what looked like vendors selling goods. I stayed taking pictures of the beach while Karen and Solace walked to the vendors. On the other side of the sand spit it was shallower water, and the views were even more beautiful. This was definitely one of those “top beaches in the world” kind of places! We bought a couple of souvenirs in what turned out to be a small village with a backpackers like hotel and even a bar/restaurant. We were really glad we stopped! I’ll share more photos in the next post including some more panoramas.

The map below shows Nosy Iranja:

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