After a 3-hour flight we arrived in Antananarivo (usually referred to as “Tana” by locals) the capital of Madagascar at 2:15 pm. On this flight from Johannesburg, South Africa we were joined by Guillermo Rivera, the tour operator and owner of South America Nature Tours. After changing money at the airport (we changed $300 dollars and got back a mountain of Ariary, the local currency), we took a taxi to the Ibis hotel. Time that afternoon was spent resting, repacking our luggage and enjoying a good swim at the hotel’s pool. At dinner in the hotel that night we were joined by two other tour members and our tour operator.
After a very nice breakfast at the hotel we took a taxi to go to Vahatra, a non-profit Conservation organization where Mike was giving a talk that afternoon. Prior to our trip Mike had been communicating with Dr. Steve Goodman, a key researcher at Vahatra and who is actually an employee of the Field Museum, the large Natural History Museum in Chicago. Steve was interested in some of the cloud climatology research Mike has been working on and Mike offered to give a talk when we were in Madagascar. We spent a couple of hours talking to Steve about Madagascar and the various problems related to conservation in the country. Later that afternoon Mike gave his talk. We had a good group of local researchers and students attending. The talk was followed by a lavish icebreaker. After this Steve drove us to the hotel. On our drive back to the hotel we experienced the very active Tana at rush hour and also began to appreciate the hilly nature of the city.
By now all tour participants had arrived and after an introduction to the group and a short talk by Steve we all enjoyed a welcome dinner at the hotel.