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5R8DX Madagascar

Toshi, JA8BMK and Ken, JN1THL will be active from Madagascar, 10 - 25 January 2015, as 5R8DX.
They will be active on HF bands with focus on 80 and 160m.
QSL via home JA8BMK.

Madagascar – A Country of Extremes

Though you won’t be seeing any singing lions or wise-cracking lemurs as in the movie, there are some fascinating sights to be seen in the Republic of Madagascar, an island off the southeast coast of Africa. The fourth largest island in the world, Madagascar and its smaller peripheral islands were originally settled between 350 BC and 550 AD by the Austronesia people who sailed from Borneo in outrigger canoes. The Bantu arrived in 1000 AD, as well as other ethnic groups, which today form the Malagasy people and more than 18 sub-groups, including the Merina, the largest group, located in the central highlands.

A number of Merina kings ruled Madagascar over the centuries, but the island was absorbed into the French colonial empire in 1897. Madagascar achieved independence in 1960, and today is considered a unitary semi-presidential republic. The capital and largest city of the country is Antananarivo (a/k/a Tana), and the government consists of the King, Prime Minister, and Parliament (with a Senate and National Assembly). There are a little over 22 million citizens in Madagascar, most of whom speak either Malagasy or French. The currency is the Malagasy ariary (one U.S. dollar to 2,632.96 ariary).

Flora, Fauna, and Weather Conditions

A tropical lowland forest runs along the eastern coast of the island. To the west of that is the plateau of the central highlands. The land slopes down toward the mangrove swamps and the Mozambique Channel on the far western side. Madagascar, by virtue of its isolation, has a vastly diverse plant and animal population, and 80% of its plant species are indigenous only to the island. The Travelers Palm is an iconic symbol of the country and features in its national emblem. A number of herbal medicines are derived from native plant species. There are 103 species of lemur present on the island. The cat-like fossa is endemic to Madagascar and at least two-thirds of all species of chameleons live on the island. There are so many indigenous species of chameleon that some scientists believe the creature originated in Madagascar. There are also numerous species of fish, snails, winged insects, and spiders.

There is a hot rainy season in Madagascar from November through April as a result of the combination of southeastern trade winds and northwestern monsoons, but the dry season during May through October is a bit cooler. Destructive cyclones are known to occur every year, wreaking havoc on property, buildings, and the people of the island. The strongest ever recorded was Cyclone Gafilo in 2004, which killed 172 people and left 214,260 homeless. The destructive storm caused $250 million in damage.

Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy, and Madagascar has a number of natural resources which prove profitable for its inhabitants, as well as raffia, fishing, and forestry. The island is known throughout the world for being the principal source of vanilla, cloves, and ylang-ylang. It also produces coffee, lychees, and shrimp, as well as precious and semi-precious stones (especially sapphires), titanium, coal, nickel and several other minerals.


  1. Lokanga Boutique Hotel – A red brick traditional Malagasy house, this hotel has a spacious balcony that offers incredible views of the city. Located centrally in the capital, Antananarivo, near the Queen’s palace, the hotel is decorated with family antiques and boasts Internet service, free parking, shuttle bus service and an on-site restaurant.
  2. Princess Bora Lodge & Spa – Located on Sainte Marie Island, this beachfront lodge boasts charming huts with thatched roofs and tropical furnishings. The four-poster beds are festooned with sheer mosquito netting which adds a bit of romance, and the accommodations are exceptional. A relaxing spa and on-site restaurant are just two of the amenities included. There is also a bar/lounge, Internet access, free breakfast, and a swimming pool. But the real star is the ocean with its warm white sands and deep turquoise waters. Enjoy semi-rustic luxury far from the bustling city.
  3. Andilana Beach Resort – Overlooking two stunning white sand beaches, this resort on Nosy Be Island offers tropical gardens, a spectacular on-site restaurant, a fitness center, as well as Internet service, a bar/lounge, swimming pool, and shuttle bus service from the airport.


  1. La Varangue – Located in Antananarivo, this quaint cottage-like restaurant offers French gourmet cuisine. The interior has a warm atmosphere with antique objects d’art on shelves and walls. Customer reviews are overwhelmingly positive, with praise for the tuna and zebu steak, as well as the lemon trio dessert and the crème brûlée
  2. Pily Pily – French, Italian, and international cuisine are all offerings of Pily Pily Restaurant at the Andilana Beach Resort on Nosy Be Island. Delicious fresh seafood is served from the vantage point of a promontory in the middle of the sea, with the relaxing waves in the background. Lit torches for nighttime dining make this a romantic spot for enjoying a meal.
  3. Chocolaterie Robert – Though not technically a restaurant, this chocolate shops in Antananarivo is worth mentioning for its elegant creations. Truffles, ganaches, pralines; if you can cover it or stuff it with chocolate, you’ll find it at Chocolaterie Robert. The chocolate pastries are mesmerizing; towering layers of puff pastry, chocolate mousse, chocolate cream, chestnut mousse, strawberry Bavarian; the combinations are endless and mouthwatering.

Madagascar is truly a study in opposites, from the eastern lowland forests to the central highlands and west to the tropical beaches; the country has contrasting landscapes and a myriad of cultural influences. The capital city itself, founded in 1625, is an amalgam of churches, mosques, and markets (or Zomas). The architecture of Antananarivo is a jumble of old wooden houses, French colonial buildings, and modern offices. Visitors can take taxis or walk around the city, visiting the Tsimbazaza Botanical and Zoological Park or a royal palace. There are many steps winding up the steep hills and cobbled streets throughout the city, and the city even has its own artificially created lake, Lake Angosy, constructed to furnish hydroelectric power to the area. Madagascar can be a journey back in time or a modern, bustling city, depending on your destination and point of view.

Video Madagascar