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Adventure Hill  Climb

At 4am, the camp started to murmur and a flicker of light shone where each inmate’s head moved sluggishly to get ready. We raided the food hut for bananas and oranges as it was too early for the regular sabeda to be cooked.

At 4.30am sharp, we headed from the camp towards the forest, ready to tackle the tower mountain. We all followed in a conga line in the darkness, only guided by each other’s torches. We passed through the sleeping local village and then down across the slippery mud wall. There were noises of the Madagascar Nightjar with its distinctive ‘marble dropping’ call, but otherwise it was very quiet.

We reached the bottom of the mountain and then the steep ascent began. The path was very narrow and rose almost vertically. This made it difficult to navigate enough without lack of light. Our congo line maintained a steady pace to begin with, everybody keeping up, fully awake now with good cheer. However, as the path went on, with barely a switchback to gain breath on, the group slowly dispersed. The path was unrelenting in its climb; each time I looked up hoping for a plateau, there was none to be seen and the path only appeared steeper. Even though it was not yet after sunrise, the humidity was high and the sweat dripping from my body was like none I had experience before. I stopped to gain my breath and drink many times, while the larger part of the group had powered ahead. My body wanted to give up but my mind was determined to reach the top before the sun rose.

We finally reached a plateau where my body felt relief, only to then find the path crossing a small creek and then climbing just as steeply again. The head torches were not required now, as the glow of the morning began to light the sky.

Then, at last, with my clothes soaking and my mouth parched, we reached the top of the mountain. What a sight it was to see! A Madagascar Traveller Palm was silhouetted against the pink and orange sky. Mountains of the mainland rose up dramatically from across the water. Early birds were perched photogenically in the trees. All pain was forgotten and all sweat had dried when the sun began to rise. An orange slither quickly growing to a ball, too bright to stare at but too mesmerising to look away from. With the spectacular view and the incredible location of Madagascar, I felt so happy to be alive and to be experiencing this beautiful moment and creating a memory that will last forever.

By Annette Cavanagh - Madagascar Conservation Volunteer

Find out more about Frontier Madagascar Projects.

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