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Off the grid, far away, yet still honeymoon material -- that's exactly the kind of place Boston-based Tom, an investment analyst, and his wife, Elizabeth, a mental-health therapist, were looking for to cap off their September 2011 nuptials. These African isles answered their call for the wild with a divine mix of adventure and luxury.
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Trip Length: 12 nights; 7 in Madagascar, 5 in Mauritius
Airline: Air France
Flight Time: 19 hours from Boston to Madagascar, with a connection in Paris
Travel Agent: Cortez Travel and Expeditions for Madagascar (air-mad.com)
Required Reading: "'The Bradt Travel Guide to Madagascar' had a lot of helpful info," says Tom.
Pictured here, Madagascar's villages were a far cry from its bustling capital, Antananarivo, nicknamed Tana.
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Tom and Elizabeth posed at Isalo, their favorite national park in Madagascar. "The landscape is vast, dramatic, and arid," says Tom. "But one day we hiked to this swimming hole in the mountains. It was what you'd picture paradise to be."
Outside Isalo, the pair stayed at the Satrana Lodge, which had luxurious individual tents for rooms. "Each one had a patio with views out to a wide-open valley and mountain range, where we’d drink wine before dinner."
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The beach (shown here) and the restaurant Rasoi by Vineet serving up high-end Indian food at the One & Only Mauritius were two of the couple's favorites. Their second favorite spot to eat? "La Varangue, in Tana, which had a French Colonial feel and was filled with antiques like old clocks and communication equipment," says Elizabeth.
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"It was Day 1 of our trip, and we stopped at the Perinet Reserve," says Elizabeth. "It's pretty touristy, but it was our first lemur encounter. Right after we got there, we had them sitting all over us, even on our heads, and we just started laughing."
Tom haggled for this Tintin woodblock in a Tana market.
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Word to the Wise
"Book the Madagascar portion with an expert," says Tom. "We've both traveled quite a bit, but there's not a lot of info out there in English -- it's mostly in French -- and there's no other way to see as much as we saw in a week."
And if they could go back? "Our guides in Madagascar told us that most kids there don't really have school supplies," says Elizabeth, "and it would have been so easy for us to pack a bunch of pencils and little notebooks to give to them."
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