Reniala Forest was the star attraction today and its star performer surprisingly was not the flora or fauna but our Muhammad Ali look-a-like and talented guide Vonji. He’s a good-looking Malagasy rooster who has self-taught himself English through books and film. His combination of graces, self-discipline and motivation have inspired us to send him two of our favorite books; “The Power of One” and “Tuesday’s with Morrie”.

Reniala was a memorable attraction for the baobabs – which we had seen across the plains before Toliara but hadn’t had the pleasure of experiencing their uniqueness and majesty in-person. Vonji was quick to point out that 8 species exist worldwide with 6 endemic to Madagascar, 1 in Africa and the other in Australia both of which are believed to have stemmed from Madagascar many Millenia ago.

The baobabs here aren’t as striking as the well documented A.Grandidiera the Grand Papa of them all, found near Morondava to the North of Ifaty. All the same they still pack a fair wallop. One in particular is estimated to be in excess of 1000years old and its trunk appeared to be about 5.5m in diameter. The Andy Dufresne’s of this world could carve enough space for sleeping and cooking quarters inside its barrel girth.


Vonji, Tiana and Lova.


Making its point. The Reniala Spiny Forest.




Moss grows on the southern side of Baobab's away from the intensity of the harsh sun.


Not content with unusual horizontal growth this Baobab trunk impersonated a rhinocerous head.



Christmas Baobab.


Reniala's oldest Baobab. Estimated to be in excess of 1000years old.



Reniala Spiny Forest. Like a Tim Burton dream.




Tonight we sampled the steamy Malagasy nightlife at Tam Tam Bar in Toliara. I half expected the bouncers to be dressed as Fred Flinstone and Barney Rubble, sadly they weren’t.

The locals here must be experiencing a heat-wave at the moment. It doesn’t really seem that way but judging by the shortness of skirt hemlines it must be damn hot and I’ve got a temperature. A more unusual observation and one that doesn’t so obviously reflect my newly acquired 30-something status was the way the girls would so confidently and flamboyantly dance with themselves in front of the floor-to-ceiling mirrors. It was like watching a parade of pink flamingo’s practice their mating rituals with all sorts of bobbing, pivoting and plummage ruffling being executed as they stared themselves down in the mirror. Obviously the male’s dance floor phobia before liquoring up the gills is a worldwide phenomenon and not just an isolated Australian characteristic.