Canal des Pangalanes, Manakara

After the long train journey, it was good to sleep for a couple of hours longer than usual. We had arranged for a boat tour in the Canal des Pangalanes. The Canal was built by the French on the turn of the 20th century and connects a large number of natural lakes and rivers into the longest canal in the world. It stretches 600km, running along the east coast of Madagascar, designed mainly to protect the boats against the strong waves of the Indian ocean. Today it is used primarily for fishing and local transportation and hosts beautiful fishing villages and beaches.

Manakara beach
The beach in front of the lodge in Manakara
A sad pool
A sad pool
Canal des Pangalanes
Canal des Pangalanes

First stop at the village of our captain, home to some 500 people, mostly kids. We arrived just in time to see the decapitation of a fresh catch, a giant sea turtle. A very brutal spectacle for my eyes, but common practice in this area. There were times that the canal had enough fish, but nowadays the fishermen have to enter the ocean, without any boat engines. If they are lucky, they can catch 5-10kg of fish and sell it for €1/kg. They are waiting for the government to offer some subsidy to buy engines but it does not seem it will happen any time soon. The village is beautiful and built on white sand, therefore looking cleaner than the inland villages that are built on dirt and mud. There is a much better ambiance, although obviously the poverty level is the same as in the south.

Fishing Village in Canal des Pangalanes
Fishing Village in Canal des Pangalanes
Young fishermen
Young fishermen
A girl in the fishing village in Manakara
A girl in the fishing village in Manakara
Fishing village kids
Fishing village kids
Turtle slaughter
Turtle slaughter
FIshing nets drying
FIshing nets drying
Malagasy style
Girls posing in the fishing village in Canal des Pangalanes, near Manakara
Young warriors
Young warriors
I am working
I am working
A girl in the fishing village
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Young woman in the fishing village
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Smart looks
Smart looks
Kids in the fishing village
Kids in the fishing village

After spending some time in the village, mostly with the kids that were curious and playful, we rode the boat to the nearby ocean beach. A very wide, white sand beach, with rough waves as there is no reef on this side of the island. Some fishermen had just come out with fresh catch. Their families were helping them with the boat, the nets and the fish.

Fresh Catch
Fresh Catch
Fishing Pirogue
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Young guy in Manakara
Young guy in Manakara
After fishing
After fishing
Graveyard in Manakara
Graveyard in Manakara
Are you scared?
Are you scared?
Pirogue in Manakara
Pirogue in Manakara
Fishing Pirogue on the beach
Fishing Pirogue on the beach

On the way back we visited a local market and a local distillery and bought some local items, obviously targeted to the tourists. It is mostly the guilt for the standard of living we enjoy compared to theirs. I am fully aware that it does not really help, but sometimes I fool myself into feeling better, like I have done a good deed.

Working in the rice fields
Working in the rice fields
Bringing water home
Bringing water home
Distillery
Distillery
Rawing in the Canal
Rawing in the Canal
Pirogue in Canal des Pangalanes
Pirogue in Canal des Pangalanes

After a quick sandwich in a gas station, we took the road back to Ranomafama, 4 hours driving without much excitement.

Jean-Luc, our guide
Jean-Luc, our guide
Fruit shop in Ranomafana
Fruit shop in Ranomafana
Market place, Ranomafana
Market place, Ranomafana

We settled in Setam Lodge and went straight for a short night walk along the main road to see some nocturnal animals. It was easy to see the mouse lemur, a rarely viewed animal as apparently there was a couple that was used to a daily feed of bananas. Once our guide rubbed a banana on a tree, a mouse lemur appeared promptly to have his dinner. He came back for two or three times, good enough to shoot some pictures. Then we went on to see some chameleons. Obviously, the guide knew exactly where these creatures were. It is usually difficult to spot them in broad daylight and now it was pitch dark and he only had a small torch.

Mouse lemur
Mouse lemur
Chameleon
Chameleon
Chameleon
Chameleon
Chameleon
Chameleon

Next: The Plateau

Manakara