14-Oct-2006 -- Tour leading and confluence bagging are ideal travelling companions. It was pointed out to me by members of the group on my recent Explore! tour in northern Madagascar that our itinerary offered the possibility of claiming two Confluences. My focus was, however, more on maximising our time discovering Madagascar's awesome endemics but after receiving sufficient pressure from the group I was persuaded to dust off my GPS and give it a go!
Having just spent 3 days in the Marojejy National Park finding such treats as Helmet Vangas, Silky Sifaka, chameleons, and amazing leaf-tailed geckos, we made our way up to Vohema, a stepping stone for the rough ride across to Daraina and Ambilobe. The main road up the Vanilla Coast from Sambava to Vohema is amongst the best roads in the country, passing through the largest vanilla producing region on earth. The Confluence in question seemed a realistic goal due to its proximity to the main road, just a few kilometres south from the town of Antasibe. On arrival at the nearest point, a mere 1.3 km from the Confluence, we stopped our "taxi-brousse" style vehicles and with the drivers looking sufficiently confused, our group of intrepid explorers, and more importantly confluence virgins, headed off into the unknown.
1.3 km without a direct path to follow and into valleys, across ditches and water and through high scrub bush and vanilla fields took its toll on our decreasingly merry band, but they all pulled through, shedding their share of blood and sweat in the name of 14S 50E. The nauseous roar of one Mr Hayes is a sound the locals will never forget.
The exact point offered little in the way of views, right in the middle of thick bush and on the side of a steep slope. As we took the group photo there was already the chant of "13-49" ringing in my ears...