I’ll break this into several sections, and see how it goes.
We landed at Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta Airport in an African dawn, watching a pair of storks taking off, and swallows and martins wheeling round the terminal windows. Then we transferred for the 3-hour flight to Antananarivo. Bureaucracy ridiculous – why should it take 4 people to examine and process each passport? On the bus to the hotel we passed bullock-carts, shanties, filthy canals, rice paddies, markets, repair-shops of all kinds, all strung out randomly at the side of the road. An amazing variety of people and activities, with 2 million people in the sprawling city. Masses of vegetation growing by the roadside – bougainvillea, jacaranda, bananas, mango trees, frangipani.
The morning trip was to the sacred hill of Ambohimanga, site of the palaces of the old kings and queens of Madagascar. In the courtyard are several enormous Ficus baroni trees. This one has the skulls of sacrificed zebu cattle nailed to it.
The rock here is granite, with large crystals and some evidence of crystal layering. I’d guess it’s cratonic, and very old. The king’s palace is surprisingly simple, but dark and gloomy. Outside we saw our first chameleon, Furcifer oustaleti.
More to come.