In our quest for finding bulk quantities of agate and crystal geodes, we have had to source these from some of the most remote places in Madagascar... and some of the most beautiful areas in the World.
This trip was from Antananarivo to Nosy Varika. With my good Malagasy friend Eddie, and with Claude and Bismark, that have been with Toprock in Madagscar for 26 years. Firstly, from Tana to Vato Mandry..8 hours.(where our 4 x4 broke down), then with 3 local taxis burdened with fruits, bales of clothes, and bags of charcoal loaded up high..another 11 hours to Mahanoro through small, old fashioned and remote market villages. Mahanoro is the last of civilisation in these parts and is the main town for this region..nice tropical wooden houses mostly, with Mangos and fruit, coconuts hanging everywhere, sand roads and loads of small Malagasy trading shops and market stalls everywhere. Quite a groovy place indeed.
Mahanoro is where the road trip ends and we had to hire a boat to traverse the Pangolanes River system that runs along inland along the tropics, mangroves and remote fishing villages.
The boat ride is just delicious...gorgeous wild tropical scenery, beautiful villages every 10-20km or so, then it got dark.... dark as hell, we had no lights on the boat and we could no longer see where we were going.(we crashed into the bank and an island and then decided to pull over when we spotted a fire burning at Analavoetse.(White forests), a small river side fishing village. The river is between 50m and 2km wide, inland along a large section of the East Coast and its a multitude of waterways..you can get very lost..and probably not easily found!
So we spent the next 30 hours in boats to Nosy Varika (Lemur Island). My poor backside did suffer somewhat from sitting and sleeping on hard wooden seats on handmade Malagasy boats, but its always good to toughen up when you get a chance, as we all get a little too soft if we don't challenge our living premises sometimes! This is an extremely beautiful and interesting trip and you definitely feel like you might run into Livingston or Drake at some point, as not much has changed in these parts during the last few hundred years.
From Nosy Varika, another few hours by boat up to where the agates have recently been found by a Malagasy friend in the Toprock network. If we thought that Nosy Varika was remote, this is even more so.. by far. This is at the edge of the known planet. Most of these folks have never seen a Vazar (white person) before, and the villages remain unchanged for centuries..beautiful and simple wooden houses on stilts with thatched roofs. We walked a fair few miles past several more of these really neat villages that show very few signs of any modernisation.
We walked a fair few miles, both sides of the main river, where a reef of basalt and agate crosses the area..I could see the signs of ancient volcanic action, with lost of iron encrusted basalt boulders, many with agate and crystal vugs in them, if you knew what you were looking for..many of these had rolled out of the surrounding hills into the smaller river beds and marshes and the basalt had disseminated and left a nice ball of agate, some with clear quartz inside and some with amethyst. I left Claude and Bismark at this village with the locals, where we will get several tons of geodes every month. I now have an excuse to be in this beautiful place again and look forward to going back.
This was a 6 day trip..two and half days to get there, a day at the agate area and two and a half days back, travelling 24 hours a day, sleeping in boats and one night in an actual bed in a wooden house, sweating like a melted candle and mosquitos to keep you company at night..Another many hours of boats and taxis loaded high and driving like maniacs with truck horm blasting at every winding corner and though all the villages ..back to Antananarivo (3 million people) then a flight to Johannesburg back in South Africa (8-9 million population) where I had some business to wrap up and rented a car...2 hours through traffic to get out of Joburg, then 9 hours drive in heavy rain driving slowly with windscreen wipers on level 3 with an overloaded rental car full of rocks(surprise surprise!) back to our lovely bush farm in Pietermaritzburg, Kwazulu Natla, South Africa.
Its Nice to be home, but I distinctly prefer Nosy Varika to Tana and Joburg..they can keep the "civilised" world to themselves..fresh fish and bananas, prawn-cakes, fruit and fresh veg beats the hell out of tinned food, supermarket crap and fast food anyday
This is why we do rocks for a living. These are the trips that make it all worthwhile and keep us sane..or insane....happy though, any-which-ways!
Here are some nice photo's from this fantastic remote trip onto Madagascar.