Red Island Revival

Rafting & Trekking

Jan 1, 2005
Outside Magazine

Gilles Gautier is your man to float any of 13 rivers in Madagascar's backcountry, where villages are still completely cut off from modern civilization. The premier multi-day float is on the Matsiatra, which runs south of Tana through rolling grasslands for more than 100 miles—at least half of which contain Class III whitewater—before joining the Mangoky River to reach the western coast. During the 12-day trip, your cuisine is as likely to include vampire bat as foie gras. Take note: Crocs aren't shy. "They'll swim right up to the raft but turn away at the last second," says Gautier. "We've never had an incident."

After taking in the palace ruins in Tana, head three hours east to the national parks around Périnet, with their nine species of lemur, including the largest, the indri. In Périnet, the Vakona Lodge offers thatched luxury and a good bottle of Bordeaux. If you want to see it all—the eroded sandstone of the Isalo Massif, humpback whales breaching in the Indian Ocean off Île Sainte Marie, and the famous stand of baobab trees in Morondava— contact John Spence at Aardvark Safaris to customize a tour.

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