Shoreline of the the Masoala Peninsula and Antongil Bay, Masoala National Park, east coast of Madagascar.
I paddled onto the town of Mananara, whilst nursing my painful foot injury and infected sores. I had to make a long detour around the next point to avoid the minefield of fringing coral reefs and faced the prospect of trying to find a way through the maze of threatening coral in the fading light of the day, and was relieved when I eventually found a clear passage through to the shore. I received treatment for my injuries, in Mananara, and then shared a ride to Maroantsetra, the gateway town to the Masoala Peninsula, in the back of a pickup truck with other foreigners. I was glad that I was able to experience that road journey through the beautiful, biodiverse vegetation of Mananara National Park. I then explored the amazing island of Nosey Mangabe in Antongil Bay, where I had my first encounter with an incredible leaf-tailed gecko, which was love at first sight.
I then paddled from Maroantsetra to the Masoala Peninsula. The sea was flat calm when I passed Nosy Mangabe but just after midday the wind started to pick up as it often did at that time of day. It was coming in from the entrance to the bay, which opens out onto the Indian Ocean, and in a very short time I found myself battling into winds gusting over 30 mph. Once again I had to keep stopping to pump out water whilst trying to hold my position facing into the oncoming waves. Progress was painfully slow and with every laboured stroke I felt as if my shoulders were dislocating. I was getting drenched with spray every time I ploughed into a wave and the salt was building up on my skin. As my body gyrated with each paddle stroke my back was getting rubbed raw by my backrest and the salt aggravated the sores. My throat was parched and I didn’t have enough water to quench my thirst; I was beginning to feel like a galley slave! My arms and shoulders screamed with the exertion, the salt was burning my flesh, and I had to overcome exhaustion; by the time I eventually reached my destination I was completely drained.
- Duncan Murrell
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- Madagascar Journey