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V 2012 – Madagascar, part I

 

 

   I have finally come back to my beloved Madagascar after a long time. It was a short trip to renew all our contacts and visit some new localities. I was accompanied by my friend Jurek.
   We flew to Antananarivo as usually and stayed there only for one day. We visited the lapidary`s workshop where all kinds of Malagasy polished stones are prepared. We saw how the high quality eggs, balls etc. made from quartz, labradorite and septaria were produced in really primitive conditions.
   As soon as we finished our businesses in capital we escaped to Antsirabe – the capital of minerals and gemstones. We spent the whole day visiting friends and discussing further plans. In the next days we visited mineral markets and bought quite a lot of specimens. Unfortunately there were not much new things available apart from some good tourmalines and hambergites.
   We also spent one day on the market in Mahaiza, where people from all surrounding mountains come every week, the village is their window on the civilization. As always there were some quartz specimens available, but nothing really exciting. Even though for Jurek it was a very new and exciting experience to see the “medieval style” blacksmiths, soldering specialists, sellers of the used plastic bottles etc.
   After that we came back to Antananarivo and flew to Toliar from where we drove directly to Sarondrano village. Sarondrano is a small village where fishermen from the Vezo tribe live on the sandy peninsula. Whole village is located on the sandy dunes. Live passes there very slowly, every morning the fishermen go to catch and they spend every afternoon relaxing and making parties. We spent with them two days apart of enjoying ocean, beaches and excellent see food (lobsters are cheaper than tomatoes in Sarondrano!). We also visited a incredible lake in the cave nearby.
   From Sarondrano we took a boat to Anakao where our friends - Tony and Noro waited for us with the car. We started there our trip through the Southern Madagascar. For the next days we used mainly the so-called National Roads – the highest in Malagasy classification. Their quality is so bad that Jurek could not believe it. Even 4x4 car has a lot of problems to drive through some of them. On the way to Ampanihy and later to Tsihombe we saw ring tail lemurs, the locals walking with spears, unique dry spiny forest with plants “from outer space” and many colorful tombs – huge colorful graves with traditional sculptures.
   After two days we arrived to Tsihombe where we visited the quarries famous for cordierite. This is with no doubts the world`s best source of cordierites for the gem material. This mineral occurs there in form of grains in biotitic lenses located in gneiss. The zone is about 1 km long and there are three main biotite lenses. Size of the cordierite grains reaches usually up to 3 cm, but occasionally it may reach even 8 cm! Many of specimens are gemmy, more rarely completely gem. Grains have no crystal faces but they are incredibly blue colored and show superb pleochroism. Transparent ones are deep blue on one side, yellow and on another and colorless while looking from the third side. After examining the quarries we packed and set off to Ampandandrava mine. It was a very long and very bad road… of course the National Road class. After many hours spent in dust and stuck in the road`s wholes we arrived to Ampandandrava village.
   Ampandandrava is the most famous and most productive phlogopite-rich basic pegmatite of Madagascar. Numerous pegmatites are present there in the long lens in gneisses. They have been mined for phlogopite since the beginning of the XX century. The French organized mining camp very well – with high quality buildings, gardens, cantinas, machinery etc. Now everything is in rather bad shape, and you can only imagine how nice that place used to look 50 years ago… We were very lucky because when we got there was no water, no electricity and at the same time the main engine-generator got broken (in fact I guess it might not be such a rare coincidence there). As a result we had to use our car battery connecting it to the mine engine, to give electric impulse and make it work! This was really funny. Anyway, the car had to stay near the engine because if it had stopped working while we were underground… we would have had a lot of time to collect... We walked to the through the road completely covered with phlogopite crystals – sparkly trail! Ampandandrava Mine is unique for Madagascar. Its underground workings are up to 180 m deep. There are several head frames, but only two of them still work. accompanied by barefooted miners we went down to visit the workings. The local miners use very primitive carbide lamps with fire burning on the helmet. Seeing them there almost naked without boots looks rather appallingly. Underground operations are not very big, they follow the lens looking for the pegmatite bodies. Some pegmatites are several meters long and contain really huge crystals. Usually they are surrounded by diopside-bearing rock. Diopsides frequently form giant crystals (up to 0,5 m) and phlogopite occurs often as crystals over 1m big! Rarely they have well formed faces, they just cleave into huge blades. Sometimes they are formed as classic elongated crystals with sharp edges. Diopside and phlogopite are almost always frozen in orange calcite and pink anhydrite. This makes them very colorful. After visiting workings we went back to the surface and tried our luck on the dumps. We collected some decent phlogopite crystals in size up to 30 cm.
    From Ampandandrava we took a long and still very bad road to Ihosy, which is located on the asphalt road no 7. On our way we tried to examine some new localities on the savanna but we did not have much luck. Anyway the landscapes were beautiful so it was worth it. After almost 12 hours drive we reached the asphalt road
what a great filling! We spent the night in civilization in Ihosy - with electricity and warm water! These are the moments when you can really appreciate such luxuries that most of people on our planet don`t have.
   Next day we visited the nearby quarries where the famous bicolor corundums are collected in biotite schists. We had the luck to acquire some nice matrix specimens.
   Finally there was the time to become regular tourists – we spent some great time in Anja Park watching granitic rocks, lemurs and endemic plants and later making the night tour in the Ranomafana Park National Park. We were lucky and saw the smallest existing lemur – Microsebus – reaching only 40 grams, and size of a finger. Of course we had seen many chameleons as well. Next day we made a tour through the rain forest and drove to Ambatofinandrahana town to check if there is anything new there.
   Ambatofinandrahana is located out of the main road and its big time ended a long time ago. However it is still one of the quartz capitals in the country.  Apart from the usual specimens that are found there we had the luck to see some very nice clusters of quartz with green fuchsite phantoms from Ihasofotsy area. After packing all goods we came back to Antsirabe.
   We spent the last days repacking, looking for the news specimens and buying some more of them. I can also reveal that we found some time to make a few parties with our Malagasy friends :)
   Time passed very fast, two weeks like 3 days… We flew back to Warsaw through Paris planning to come back to Madagascar as soon as possible.


Tomasz Praszkier

 

 See our Madagascar specimens for sale in our store

  

Madagascar, the area we visited is marked. Google maps.

 

View to Alps from the airplane`s window. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Mount Kilimanjaro! T. Praszkier photo.

 

Mount Kilimanjaro! T. Praszkier photo.

 

We landed in the capital - Antananarivo. T. Praszkier photo.

 

One of the first things when you travel is to exchange money. On Madagscar you can be sure that you will have the whole bag of money! Their most valuable bill is worth about 4$! T. Praszkier photo.

 

We visited the "factory" of polished minerals in Antananarivo. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Polishing labradorite is a hard work. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Septaria eggs and balls in preparation. T. Praszkier photo.

 

The final products. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Our next point was Antsirabe. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Driving to Antsirabe. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Mineral and gem market in Antsirabe. T. Praszkier photo.

 

One of the shops with an interesting painture. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Would you like some garnets ? T. Praszkier photo.

 

Or quartz? T. Praszkier photo.

 

Or maybe an enormous columbite? T. Praszkier photo.

 

We found new spinels that came out from the corundum mines near Ihosy. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Antsirabe is the capital of cutstones. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Quartz with inclusions. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Gem green tourmaline with pink cap from Sahatany Valley, 5.5 cm high. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Tourmaline on quartz from Sahatany Valley, 4.5 cm high. T. Praszkier photo.

 

We spent one day on the market in Mahaiza. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Driving to Mahaiza. Volcanic cones in the background. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Crowds going to the market. T. Praszkier photo.

 

White people, run! T. Praszkier photo.

 

Big selection of plastic sandals and flip-flops. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Crowds on the market. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Buying traditional baskets made of raphia. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Soap made from cow`s suet in the foreground, a bath must be lovely. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Soldering broken umbrelas, dishes and everything else. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Clothes... a lot of clothes! T. Praszkier photo.

 

Jurek very happy with his new hat. T. Praszkier photo.

 

You can also find fancy dresses on the market. T. Praszkier photo.

 

There are restaurants too. T. Praszkier photo.

 

But we looked for the minerals, here quartz scepter. T. Praszkier photo.

 

And the whole market looked at us. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Huge quartz crystal. T. Praszkier photo.

 

We came back to Antananarivo and flew to Tulear from where we drove to Sarondrano. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Sarondrano is located at the end of a peninsula, on sandy dunes. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Our "hotel" in Sarondrano. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Our "hotel" in Sarondrano. T. Praszkier photo.

 

By building small catamarans` models the kids learn how to make the real ones when they grow up. T. Praszkier photo.

 

By building small catamarans` models the kids learn how to make the real ones when they grow up. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Full-size boat. T. Praszkier photo.

 

We made a trip to the cave. T. Praszkier photo.

 

We arrived... T. Praszkier photo.

 

... and spent some great time in this miraculous place - small lake in the cave! T. Praszkier photo.

 

Incredible color of the water. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Incredible color of the water. T. Praszkier photo.

 

And we are back to our bungalows. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Jurek collected many shells. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Walking on the beach of the fishermen`s village. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Walking on the beach of the fishermen`s village. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Walking on the beach of the fishermen`s village. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Walking on the beach of the fishermen`s village. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Sunset in Sarondrano. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Sunrise - fishermen are preparing their boats. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Sunrise - fishermen are preparing their boats. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Time to go to work. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Kids having fun - look, look - white people, what an attarcion! :-) T. Praszkier photo.

 

Kids having fun - look, look - white people, what an attarcion! :-) T. Praszkier photo.

 

Kids having fun - look, look - white people, what an attarcion! :-) T. Praszkier photo.

 

Suddenly all fishermen start to run, they paddled like crazy... T. Praszkier photo.

 

... and all other residents of the village observed. T. Praszkier photo.

 

We were quite surprised what was going on - It turned out that a big shoal of future-anchois
just crossed the coral reef barier. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Anchois are expensive so everyone went to fish! There was a real anchois rush. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Anchois are expensive so everyone went to fish! There was a real anchois rush. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Anchois are expensive so everyone went to fish! There was a real anchois rush. T. Praszkier photo.

 

From Sarondrano we sailed to Anakao. T. Praszkier photo.

 

From Sarondrano we sailed to Anakao, the "road" is quite busy there. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Anakao. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Tony and Noro having a romantic walk in Anakao. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Good place to rest. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Good place to rest. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Anakao. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Endemic succulent plants Euphorbia, around Anakao. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Endemic succulent plants Euphorbia, around Anakao. T. Praszkier photo.

 

From Anakao we drove to Ampanihy by the National Road no 10. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Typical buildings of the Southern Madagascar. T. Praszkier photo.

 

First baobas. T. Praszkier photo.

 

And first lemurs - famous Ring-tailed lemurs. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Ring-tailed lemurs watching us. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Ring-tailed lemurs on the cactus. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Ring-tailed lemurs on the cactus. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Ring-tailed lemurs on the cactus. T. Praszkier photo.

 

On the National Road no 10 - this is highest rank road. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Spears are very common in Southern Madagascar. It was the first time for Jurek to see a "real" spear. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Strollers. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Tribes leaving in Southern Madagascar build incredible graves - one tomb is for only one person! T. Praszkier photo.

 

Wooden carvings and zebu skulls adorning the grave. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Zebu walking through the savanna. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Aloe forest. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Colorful tomb. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Wooden carvings and zebu skulls adorning the grave. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Old wooden carvings, note the wrestlers. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Another unusual plants - Didiereaceae. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Didiereaceae forest. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Small town on our way. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Small town on our way. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Taxi-brousse - 4x4 long-distance public transport. T. Praszkier photo.

 

On the streets of the town. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Finally we arrived to Ampanihy. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Souvenirs` sellers already waited for us. T. Praszkier photo.

 

GO TO:   Part II   Part III




  Comments

Really interesting! Thanks. (R. Burns (dickie)
dickie
2012-11-22 17:38:25

What an island! Not only for the mineral specimens coming out of there but for the scenery and the wildlife and the people - looks absolutely beautiful! NG
georno55
2014-01-15 02:20:02


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