Summer in the south east
December holidays come around and every year I think, “hmm, where will I go for a break this year?” and my decision is always the same. I stay at home in Fort Dauphin and spend the time visiting our spectacular beaches and enjoying the perfect weather! Summer is for me the best time to visit the south east of Madagascar. While the west coast can be blistering hot at this time of the year, here in the south east corner we experience 28 – 32 degree days with cooling sea breezes, clear blue skies, crystal-clear aquamarine seas and balmy mild nights… perfect weather for exploring the endless beaches and enjoying dinner and drinks in the open air in the evenings…
Fort Dauphin was described last week by my German guests (one an experienced surfer and one a beginner) as the perfect surfing holiday destination for surfers with mixed levels of experience. There are a number of surf spots right here in the centre of town all close walking distance, and thanks to our unique geography, with both north and south facing beaches, there is bound to be a break working no matter which way the wind blows, so there is something for experienced surfers and beginners alike. If you want a change of flavour, Ambinanibe is only a 30-minute drive out of town but rewards you with a perfect shore break, long neat waves and superb scenery. Our guests last week shared the Ambinanibe waves with about 20 dolphins and came home saying “best holiday of our lives!” To be honest, it’s not the first time our guests have said that!
Another special treat that only happens here around Christmas is the Festival Sambaraha. This annual event is organised by an enthusiastic group of university students who come from this area but study in Tana. Each year they return home to see family, and as their contribution to the region of their birth, they stage a week-long party! This extraordinary event is bound to challenge the supremacy of the Donia Festival as THE annual music and cultural event for Madagascar. The events continue day and night at different (mainly outdoor) venues all over town, culminating in two main events on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. On the 24th on the main stage in the stadium this year we joined the 10,000-strong crowd of locals to enjoy Seva, Dadah de Fort Dauphin, and Ny Onja of Tinondia fame. Thanks to fantastic lighting, the event went late into the night and everyone staggered home exhausted after 6 hours of dancing, to wake up the next morning to find Santa had been. After a lazy Christmas lunch, a swim and a big afternoon sleep, we made it to the podium at the town hall for performances by at least 20 different local bands from all over the Anosy countryside, and finally danced until the early hours to arguably the most talented performers of mangaliba to ever emerge from Fort Dauphin, the wonderful Thominot and his group Hazo Lahy. Sporting events and a surfing competition finished off the festival and I really must congratulate the organisers for what was a really superb week-long event. In 2010 the Festival Sambaraha will be bigger and better so if you want to escape the European winter and get away to sun, surf, music, sport and beaches, with plenty to do both night and day, then late December in Fort Dauphin is the place to make early reservations for 2010.