Berenty Reserve, Madagascar

Berenty Photo Diary

Everything But the Lemurs

During our three incredible days at the Berenty Reserve, we were able to see so much. Dozens and dozens of lemurs, reptiles, birds, bats, and bugs. I’ve already written a post about the logistics of organising a trip to Berenty, but here I wanted to share a photo diary of our time there. This is everything but the lemurs as there were too many of those for one post. You can find the lemurs here!

The Room

Bungalow at Berenty Reserve
Bungalow at Berenty Reserve
Bungalow at Berenty Reserve
Accommodation at Berenty Reserve

 Animals

Lizard, Berenty Reserve, Madagascar Radiated Tortoise, Berenty Reserve, Madagascar Scorpion, Berenty Reserve, Madagascar

Berenty Reserve, Madagascar

Chameleon, Androy, Madagascar
Owl, Berenty Reserve, Madagascar
Lizard, Berenty Reserve, Madagascar
Sleeping Chameleon, Berenty Reserve, Madagascar
Bird, Berenty Reserve, Madagascar
Three-eyed Lizard, Berenty Reserve, Madagascar

We saw the cycle of life in full effect a few times as well 😉

Chameleons Mating, Berenty Reserve, MadagascarSpider Tortoises Mating, Berenty Reserve, Madagascar

Snake eating a bird, Berenty Reserve, Madagascar

yes, that is a snake eating a bird

Flying Foxes

Flying Foxes, Berenty Reserve, Madagascar
Flying Foxes, Berenty Reserve, Madagascar
Flying Foxes, Berenty Reserve, Madagascar

Berenty

Spiny Forest, Boabab Tree, Berenty Reserve, Madagascar
Baby Boabab Tree, in Berenty Reserve, Madagascar
Garden, Berenty Reserve, Madagascar
Spiny Forest, Boabab Tree, Berenty Reserve, Madagascar

We saw an 850 year old Baobab tree, which made my Little Prince loving heart very happy. Boabab Tree, in Berenty Reserve, Madagascar Boabab Tree, in Berenty Reserve, Madagascar

Don’t forget to check out the lemurs, here!

Spiny Forest, Berenty Reserve

Christmas at Berenty Reserve

Guys, we went to Berenty Reserve and I finally saw lemurs!! Hundreds of them!

We knew we wanted to stay around Fort Dauphin for most of Gareth’s trip, mainly so he can see where I’m living and help sort out my flat (thank you, G!!). But we wanted to do something special over Christmas which led us to Berenty.

Berenty is a small, private reserve about 3.5 hours from Fort Dauphin, and one of the most famous in all of Madagascar. It’s one of the best places to see lemurs in the country, and where primatologist Alison Jolly studied lemurs for over 50 years. If you’re into lemurs, this is your spot.

Logistics

Transport

You need to organise transport to and from the reserve directly — you can’t just turn up. They can arrange this from Tana, but in Fort Dauphin the Le Dauphin hotel is their sister site and you can arrange things there. You’ll be picked up from the hotel early in the morning with a driver and a guide. The drive out is part of the experience, with a few stops along the way to see the changing landscape. We had a fantastic drive out, you can see some of the pictures below.

Drive to Berenty from Fort Dauphin Drive to Berenty from Fort Dauphin Spiny Forest, Drive to Berenty from Fort Dauphin Chameleon, Drive to Berenty from Fort Dauphin

Food

There is a restaurant at the reserve, but nowhere to buy snacks. The restaurant is a fixed menu — continental breakfast (with or without eggs) in the morning, and three courses (starter, main, dessert) during lunch and dinner. Breakfast is from 6 – 9, lunch from 12-2:30 and dinner 7-10. The food was good but not great — though this lobster on Christmas Eve was quite the treat.

Lobster Dinner Christmas Eve Berenty Reserve

Electricity and Water

The reserve runs on generator power, so there’s electricity from 5am to 9am, 11am to 3pm and 5pm to 10pm. This is generally fine but as it’s the peak of summer, nights without a fan or air con were HOT. There is also running water, flushing toilets, and showers with hot water. (YES, PLEASE!)

Accommodation at Berenty Reserve Grounds at Berenty ReserveAccommodation at Berenty Reserve

Cost

The cost for transport and the guide is €157 each. While we originally thought this was a bit high, after having experienced the level of service, it felt like such an incredible deal. It includes the driver, gas to/from the reserve, a guide who provided us with three (long) walks a day (7-11 am, 3-6 pm, and 7-8 pm), room and board for both driver and guide, and entrance to the reserve and museum.

It’s another €62 each night for a double occupancy room. Meals are 19,000 Ariary each for breakfast and 36,000 Ariary for lunch and dinner, however on special occasions (Christmas Eve), there is a special menu that was €22 each. Water, and most drinks, are 6,000 Ariary.

The experience

Ring-tailed Lemur at Berenty Reserve

You see SO much at Berenty. You’re basically guaranteed to see all the different types of lemurs that live in the reserve, and you can get quite close to them! We also saw chameleons, flying foxes, snakes, so many cool bugs, tortoises, and a crocodile. We saw so many incredible things, which you can see in the photo diaries here and here. Our guide JP was incredible — he was SO knowledgeable about everything and just such a nice person to be around.

Ring-tailed Lemur at Berenty Reserve

In all, if you’re in Southern Madagascar and at all interested in lemurs, Berenty Reserve should be top of your list!

2018 Wrap Up

Wow, another year nearly over! 2018 honestly went by so fast I’m struggling to write this post — my brain does not compute.

There were some pretty big things that happened this year though. For starters, the vast majority of my friends got married! I went to seven weddings this year and there was only one where either Gareth or I weren’t in the wedding party! It was such a wonderful, love filled year and I’m so grateful I was living in London (and able to get to Boston) for everything!

There were also some great trips —

I went to Paris in February to visit Faye and meet Ross, which was so lovely. FAYE I MISS YOU COME TO MADAGASCAR!

Eiffel Tower, Paris Paris, France

Ibiza for a hen do, where we stayed in the nicest villa and went proper clubbing. I haven’t done that since I was 21 and brand new to LA!

Ibiza

Egypt and South Africa, which were huge life highlights I’ll never forget.

jumping rhino, kruger, south africa

Pyramid, Giza, Egypt Sphinx, Giza, Egypt

Greece, easily one of my favourite places on earth.

Boston, to see my fam and watch some of my best friends get married.

Madagascar, where I’ve moved to work on HIV and WASH projects for the next year.

Ring-tailed Lemur at Berenty Reserve

Regarding my 30 before 30, I crossed off four (and a half) items. Go to Egypt, South Africa, Greece, work in the field in Africa, and I’ve started my masters.

This year was big professionally and educationally, and moving to Mada has been pretty big personally as well. Being apart from G after having lived together is a new kind of hard, but it’s also teaching me so much about the world, myself (to be corny), and of how much I’m capable.

Also I’m quite enjoying looking back at wrap ups for 2016 and 2017 and seeing how much has/hasn’t changed. One more year to 30!

Santorini Hike

Why I Didn’t Like Santorini

First let’s acknowledge that I’m incredibly lucky and privileged to have been able to visit Santorini at all. However, if you travel frequently, you’re bound to visit a few places you like more or less than others. Santorini was one of those places I liked less. That said, it is gorgeous and I’m sure quite a few people feel the magic there that was lost on me. It’s also worth noting that we planned to spend 24 hours there, but due to an ferry strike were unexpectedly there for 4.5 days.

Oia, Santorini

My biggest issue was the amount of tourists in Santorini. For example, take the photo of Gareth and I below. To get it, we had to wait in line for 15 minutes , and once you got there if you took too long people shouted at you. It was stressful and packed and really (for me) took away from the beauty.

Oia, Santorini

Likewise, the sunset was gorgeous. However, to get a good spot you need to arrive about two hours early. This photo was taken 90 minutes before the sunset and believe me it only got more and more busy. Afterwards, it took us about 25 minutes to get back to the road due to the crowds.

Oia Sunset

Every picturesque location was filled with professional photographers doing photoshoots with tourists who had hired them. Everyone was dressed extremely well, and the entirety of Oia felt like one big photoshoot. Like the the main reasons tourists in Santorini were there was just to get a photo of themselves there.

Oia, Santorini

I spent about an hour doing the same, mostly because we needed (free) things to do to fill our time. Then I got fed up with the whole vibe and put my camera away for the next few days. We left Oia, which felt unbearable, and moved down to Perissa which was far less touristy. It was more of a beach town. We spent a day sitting under an umbrella on the black sand beach, having a completely different trip than the Oia focused one we had planned.

Santorini Black Sand Beach

I think I have a fairly high tolerance for tourists. I’m from Martha’s Vineyard and while I much prefer the winter, I adjusted to everything being crowded long ago. I went to Cinque Terre last August and was told I’d hate it due to all the tourists at that time of year, and again not only did it not bother me but it’s one of my favourite places I’ve ever been. There were 100 times more tourists in Santorini than in MV or Cinque Terre.

Oia, Santorini

I’m also going to be a bit controversial and say that while there were many gorgeous parts of Santorini, I don’t think the overall beauty compared to anything we saw in Paros or Crete. There are cheaper, quieter, and more beautiful places to visit in the Greek isles. I think if you only have a limited amount of time, I’d really suggest leaving Santorini off your list!

Santorini Sunset

Santorini, Greece

So I’m going to keep in real… Santorini wasn’t my favourite. I’ve been to quite a few places in the world and am bound to find a few that aren’t my cup of tea – and after not loving Morocco in 2015, I had an amazing travel streak until finally visiting Santorini in 2018.

Santorini, Greece Santorini, Greece Santorini, Greece Santorini, Greece

That said, you may love it and we did some great things there. So without further ado, my guide to Santorini!

Things to do:

Hiking

The best thing we did in Santorini was the hike from Thira to Oia. It takes around three hours and is really gorgeous. There are about three steep uphill segments, and other than that it’s not physically challenging. It starts right by Hotel Atlantis and takes you through Thira, Imerovigli, and along the caldera to Oia. Go as early as possible – we finished around noon and the last 30 minutes the sun was so high it was a bit difficult.

Santorini Hike

Sunset

Watch the sunset at Oia Castle. It’s an incredible view, but plan to get there about 2 hours early – we brought books and beer and the time went by fairly quickly.

sunset in Oia, Santorini

Photoshoots

It seemed like absolutely everyone was focused on getting that perfect IG shot, and many had even hired professional photographers to bring them to all the best places.

Santorini, Greece Santorini, Greece

Books

One of the magical bookstores of the world exists in Oia called Atlantis Books. If you’re an avid reader don’t miss out.

Atlantis Books, Santorini

Beaches

Santorini isn’t known for its beaches, but the most famous ones are the black sand beach, the white sand beach, and the red sand beach. The red sand beach is currently closed and unsafe due to a rock slide, and the white sand beach is only accessible by boat. We spent a few days at the black sand beach and really loved it – you can rent two lounge chairs with an umbrella for 10 euros for the day, and it was walking distance from our hotels in Perissa. Our other favourite place to swim was Amoudi Bay in Oia. It’s so gorgeous and the perfect place to cool off after a long hike!

Santorini Black Sand Beach

Where to stay: Santorini, Greece

Santorini, Greece

The main options are Oia, Fira, or Perissa. We spent one night in Oia and it was beautiful and very convenient if you’re only there for a short time and sticking to that location. It’s also more expensive and doesn’t allow any escape from the crowds. Thira is lively, where the nightlife is, and a great location if you’re exploring the entire island. Perissa is for those who are mainly interested in the beach or who want a cheaper/less crowded holiday. It takes about an hour to get from one end to the other, so it’s not terribly big and you can easily stay on one end and visit the other.

Santorini didn’t compare to Paros or Crete, but it was somewhere I’d been dreaming of going since I was a child and I’m really happy to have been able to visit. And next time I go to Greece I can focus on some of the less touristy islands!