On day 6, more than half way through our trip, we left Russian Bay for Nosy Iranja and Baramahamay River. Having previously visited Iranja before on separate occasions both Arthur and I were eager to return. Iranja is particularly stunning and very catered towards western tourists, namely French and Italian. It is two small islands connected by a 1km sand bar which is flooded during high tide. The white sand is extremely soft and the waters are crystal clear. The turtles here are massive and it is well known that Iranja is one of the best places to see them. After the 2 and a half hour journey to get there we stayed at Iranja for 4 or 5 hours initially visiting the lighthouse and then subsequently relaxing and exploring the area until after lunch when we went snorkelling. We then spent another hour travelling to Baramahamay which is where we would stay for the subsequent 3 nights.
Baramahamay is a very small settlement located across from the village where we would later be hiking, teaching and playing football. It has the luxury of cabins where we can sleep on the floor, out of the sand for once, as well as 3 individual huts equipped with double beds which you can rent for 25,000 Ariary (£5) per night. There is also a bar available to purchase drinks at.
Day 7 we began the day by pioneering a new hiking route. We took packed lunches and returned around 2/3 o'clock. This was not without Daisy falling backwards into a narrow muddy river while trying to cross it and Hettie, Cor and I making the mistake of following Ben through a mud swamp, despite this we all made it back with not much more than a few scratches. We then played a football match that afternoon with some of the young adults in the village. This time, despite still easily being beaten, we put up a better challenge as the terrain was a dirt pitch rather than sand.
We returned to the boat for a time and ate dinner and showered before heading back to the village once more for the screening of Plastic Oceans. Plastic Oceans is a documentary made to raise awareness on the disposal of plastics and how they move through the food-chain and eventually into the final consumers, usually us. It is hoped that by screening the documentary, which has been translated in Malagasy, communities will be more mindful of their disposal techniques. On the boat trip we often do battery collections as these can be particularly harmful when discarded.
Day 8 we went paddling in some pirogues which are similar to canoes but more stable and some have sails. We didn't get very far and had to turn back due to the low tide. After this some people went snorkelling and then we planned our lessons for the afternoon before lunch.
Having never taught before I was quite intrigued and excited to see what it would be like. Fortunately we had 4 teachers so we put one in each class. In my group were Alex, Cressie and I who had the youngest class so we planned to teach them the Alphabet. Alex, as the only real teacher, was superb and took charge. As there are only 2 classrooms in the village, the 3 children's classes were all in one classroom, which was pandemonium as you can imagine, while the single adults class was in another classroom. The children were very loud but also eager to participate. Another football match then ensued afterward.
That evening would be our last night in Baramahamay and is typically a fun night with extra special food, in this case crab and chocolate tart.
Day 9 we began our journey back to camp. This was a quiet day with opportunities to snorkel and a 2 and a half hour boat ride back to Russian Bay where we spent our final night.
Day 10, the final day. Everyone was up early to pack away our tents for the final time. We left Russian Bay for Nosy Tanikely to snorkel. We then had our final lunch and returned to Hellville.
The Island Outreach has been fantastic and a much needed break from camp. Our staff have been incredible, especially Menjah who went above and beyond to cater for us and worked tirelessly to ensure our trip was as good as it could be. The next 2 weeks will fly by as we wind down and prepare to go home.