Then we continued onwards, straight towards the mountains, in a slow-moving 4x4. We passed tiny villages and in between, kids were making the hour-long walk to or from school. The drive was made memorable by a key stop where our driver had to build the bridge out of wood from his trunk before we could continue on. Children swarmed us demanding candy, empty water containers, and even the clothes off our backs while we waited.
Three hours after leaving Ambolavao, we pulled up in front of some rustic bungalows and an open restaurant, we took a moment to stare out at the imposing rock wall that seemed to stretch across the entire horizon that we would be hiking into the next day. We were served a hearty late lunch, briskly washed off in their cold shower that produced only a trickle of water, and watched a storm roll across the sky. Dinner was a three-course meal listening to the echoes of huge, rumbling thunderclaps while watching the sky change so quickly you could barely take your eyes off it. Both sheet and fork lightning illuminated the open valley and made us anxious for our trek ahead.
|View from our starting point for the trek. The peak is labelled if you zoom in|