Madagascar. – Disembarking onto the wooden jetty, lapping water, white sand underfoot, the occasional palm tree and concealed walkways between the greens, I was not convinced that I had arrived at the right accommodation. It seemed too good to be true.
Notorious for ignoring the small print when it comes to my personal travel arrangements, I hadn’t taken onboard that not only would I be staying in the 50ha forest reserve, but actually at the rather wonderful Hotel Palmarium itself. A wonderful surprise.
Warmly welcomed by the charming Sylvain Ravina, manager at the Palmarium for more than twenty years, I was put to ease and settled into a room that was very much to my liking.
Lake Ampitabe has few accommodation options, the Bush House and Palmarium Hotel being the more luxurious, and I use that term loosely as the place is very Robinson Crusoe in style. Or what I imagine he and Friday set up for themselves.
In fact its beautifully basic, island living at its best.
Constructed from wood and woven palm leaves, no glass just shutters. A hammock perfectly positioned on the deck for true relaxing. Beds simply made with light cotton sheets. Bathroom facilities with a shower that had hot water thanks to the fires that are lit in the mornings and evenings. All very spacious and within metres of the most beautiful beach and clear waters I have ever seen.
You know you’ve arrived at Le Palmarium.
Of the 17 rooms mine was near the main dining room and lounge area. The gardens have been planted to indigenous vegetation that form part of the guided forest tour. There are wild lemurs in the trees that come close enough to allow good photography and warrant a ‘guard on duty’ to keep them from chancing their luck at mealtime.
The bungalows, below the deck with hammock and chairs (bottom pic off Hotel Plamarium)
My lovely room.
Simple can be the very best thing of all.
This is a very isolated part of the world. There is no power except in the evenings and very sporadic cellphone reception. Perhaps 2-3 times a day there was a burst, otherwise nothing. Something that had me panicked initially as I was unable to send out inviting updates of my experiences. Yet once I accepted there was little I could do to action change, I relaxed into the blissful magic of the Palmarium.
Something I should do more often.
The water tank.
The restaurant offers a good variety of fresh fish and zebu (beef). Eating vegetarian I was well catered for with fresh salad and vegetables, all locally grown. Wine is expensive, but the local Three Horses Beer goes down a treat.
The Hotel remains involved with the small local community, they employ and train numerous young staff members and support a soccer team. We also had some dancers in the first night.
This is a place that I could call home.
There is an argument to be made for a lake side resort versus a sea side one and as a lover of the ocean I found the close proximity to calm clear waters that I could wade right out in, very appealing. At night I was lulled to sleep by the sound of the breaking waves beyond the land bank. Its a combination of blissful living. Lemur in the trees. White beaches. Simple living. I highly recommend it.
The very charming Sylvain who took care of my questions and requests whilst there, we remain in contact and I hope to visit his piece of heaven again.