The mountains run the length of Madagascar, from north to south. Here at Fort Dauphin on the tip of the southeast coast, it appears as if the Indian Ocean is lapping at the toes of these towering peaks. Fort Dauphin’s white crescent beach, with the imposing mountains as backdrop is one of the most inspiring sites we have seen. (This scene is on the $5,000 Ariary monetary note). The closest I can come to describing it is by remembering the last scene in the movie “Body Heat” when Kathleen Turner is sipping a drink in a tropical environment with huge mountains in the background.
Fort Dauphin is in the Eastern rain forest and all is still green, even though the dry season has begun. The official name of this city is Toalangnaro, but all of the locals we met, still refer to it as Fort Dauphin.
As we drive west to the Berenty Reserve to see the famed Ringtail Lemurs, we cross the mountains (transition zone) and enter the dry Spiny Forest, with trees that produce tall spiky arms, jutting 12-20 feet sharply up to the sky. The landscape is unlike any other that I have experienced and I am facinated by both the vegetation and the unusual animals.