We spent 3 weeks in May 2012 traveling around Madagascar with Belaza - truly an incredible and eye-opening experience! We highly recommend Belaza and his Malagasy guide company, Gassitours: www.gassitours.com. We are a couple in our early 30's. We also traveled with my father, who is 69 years old. We are all passionate about exploring new places, hiking, and seeing unique flora, fauna, landscapes, and cultures - Madagascar has all of this and more. After researching a trip to Madagascar, we decided that a Malagasy guide would be the best way to help us with the tricky logistics. This was the first time we have ever used a guide for our travels, and we are very glad we had a local guide to arrange the trip and accompany us.
We found out about Belaza on Tripadvisor, and from the beginning of our communication with him via email, we were very happy with his advice on places to go and see, and his patience with us as we revised our 3-week trip to fit in certain places and timing. We focused our trip on seeing reserves and National Parks (Andasibe/Perinet/Analamazaotra, Kirindy, Tsingy, Ramanofana, Isalo, Reniala). We also spent time seeing the countryside and visited several cultural areas (e.g., Antsirabe, the Royal summer palaces near Tana). Though we mainly went to experience nature, we all agreed that we were very moved by the people we met and the Malagasy daily life. We will post reviews on the places we stayed and ate, separately (all good to excellent).
Belaza was very helpful with logistics - when one of our domestic Air Madagascar flights was cancelled, he was able to get us on the next available flight. If something happened with the vehicle we were traveling in (which happened a few times, and which is a distinct possibility for anyone traveling in Madagascar due to poor infrastructure and road conditions), he worked hard to come up with a solution that would not disrupt our travel plans. Belaza was always looking out for us, and on a daily basis, would communicate with us about the trip itinerary and details of the next day's events. He was very willing to adjust plans as requested, and also happy (and patient) to stop for many photos as we were driving or hiking. He chose great Park guides for us as well. He happily hiked with us on our treks, most of which were rigorous 6-8 hours (at each place you can choose the length and difficulty of hikes). Belaza is also multilingual - besides Malagasy, he speaks excellent English and French - he may know some other languages as well. This was very helpful, as we only knew limited French and did not know Malagasy.
Belaza also cares deeply about his country, and has a keen interest in its culture, history, and environment. We learned a great deal about Madagascar from him and our park guides. Belaza arranged all the vehicles and drivers for our trip - we had 3 different ones during our trip because we were going to many different places (including flights between some locations). The drivers were all very careful drivers, and we felt very safe with them. Our favorite was Jerry, but Santache and Parika were also very good.
One of our favorite experiences was a guided camping trip in Isalo NP. Though Belaza had not arranged this particular type of camping trip before he happily and successfully worked with an Isalo Park Guide (Roxy) to arrange everything, including camp sites, tents, bedding, food, and even traditional Malagasy cocktails! It was great to spend an evening in the canyons of Isalo listening to the wildlife and talking with Belaza and Roxy about culture, music, history, and their families.
We highly recommend Belaza and Gassitours for a trip to Madagascar. Your trip can be customized to your preference and budget by selecting places you want to visit and stay. Belaza's rates are very reasonable. Plus, by hiring a Malagasy guide, the majority of your money stays in the country's economy where it is needed most.
Jay and Phoebe
Hi there, I didn't want to miss the opportunity to comment about our trip to Madagascar, which was a wonderful time!, specially comment about our tour guide: Belaza.
He really organized everything we wanted to do in Madagascar with special care and all details covered. There was not even a small thing that he missed. Belaza was also very flexible beacasue he was able to change our itinerary when we lost an air madagascar flight (that left earlier without a notice)..
Finally, he accomplished all what we agreed without a small difference, even more, he make us few favors like keeping our things while we went to Mauritius Islands in his house and gave them back to us afterwards.
The conclusion is obvious, I really recommend Belaza, and every person that ask me back in my country how they could travel around Madagascar I am tell them to contact Belaza.
I was a 20 year old single female travelling to Madagascar for 6 weeks so it was a huge relief to be welcomed at the airport in Tana by Belaza and our driver Alan. I did the Tsiribihina river and Tsingy tour and enjoyed it so much that I ended up doing a second tour of the south. The best part about having Belaza with me the whole time was that it gave me the opportunity to interact with the local Malagasy people and we found ourselves out most nights in the villages drinking THB with them. Belaza really went out of his way to make my trip as easy and memorable as possible. He also took into account that one of my main reasons for visiting Madagascar was to see wildlife (chameleons in particular) so he made sure we saw a lot of them which I was very pleased about. He also included a visit to a reptile reserve (ReserVe Peyrieras) on the way to Andasibe. Thank you for everything Belaza, this really was the trip of a lifetime and I will definitely be back! Veloma! (Karissa, QLD Australia)
I have just returned from the river decent and Tsingy trip in Madagascar with an excellent tour guide called Belaza (gassitours.com).
The tour was very well organised with drivers and guides that are also wonderful people and who Belaza has known for some years. The people, children, wildlife and scenery were nothing short of spectacular. A very carefully orchestrated trip which left me spellbound by the remarkable things I had seen each day.
Belaza went out of his way to make sure our trip was beyond fantastic . I broke my camera by knocking it into a tree chasing Indri Indri around the rainforest, but Belaza took a detour the following day to several camera shops until we could find someone to fix it. He also arranged an additional days activities and a driver at short notice at the end of my trip as I had 48 hours to fill to await my flight.
Belaza took care of everything for us, allowing us to relax and get absorbed in the adventure. He had a detailed knowledge of the history, wildlife, villages and their communities and a fantastic sense of humour. He was keen for us to learn everything and have a wonderful experience of Madagascar. He made us feel very welcome, personalising the trip to meet our specific interests. I felt very safe with Belaza as my tour guide and I will be recommending him to everyone.
I have travelled extensively and this trip is bar far the best I have ever encountered. The whole experience far outweighed my expectations and I would recommend everyone to try the river and Tsingy tour in Madagascar with gassitours.
Just a short note about my recent trip to Madagascar with Gassitours. I arrived at Tana airport at 1.30am (Air Madagascar flight was late) and I was so pleased to be met by Belaza and his driver, they had been sending SMS to me to let me know they were there, I was very glad to see their smiling faces. From then on for the next 11 days I was treated like a "queen", so it became my nickname as they opened doors and helped me through the entire tour. I am a 62 year old female lone traveller and I thought I was fairly fit but their helping hands assisted me into the dugout canoe for the river trip, made me comfortable in my own tent on the sand banks of the river, cared for me on the four wheel drive over some unbelievably rough roads, gave me encouragement and a strong hand to climb over the little Tsingy rocks. It was quite an adventure. I can thoroughly recommend Belaza and his tour company Gassitours which means your money stays in the country for the people of the country. Beleza has his own website Gassitours and you will find him. If you would like to know anything more about Madagascar please just ask and I will try to reply. One hint don't take Australian Dollars, go for Euros to exchange. Cheers one weary but fulfilled traveller.
Jeanette Ann WILTON ( Australia, May to July 2011)
We had a truly fantastic experience in Madagascar, the people we met were all very welcoming and the very different experiences were amazing. Travel in Madagascar is though difficult without a tour guide and had we tried to go it alone we would not have had half the experiences we had. I would recommend Belaza to anyone, he was always friendly and informative, his knowledge of people wildlife and customs in Madagascar is extremely good as his his command of English. Nothing was too much trouble and Belaza seems to know everyone in Madagascar! Finally his sense of fun kept us all going. Don't believe him though when he says everything is 'mora mora' (slowly slowly) he still expects you to get up at the crack of dawn! (though I have to say sunrise in Madagascar is well worth it).
If you wish to spend your holidays in Madagascar, we highly recommend Belaza as your friendly tour guide.
Jill, Sue, Holly
Yorkshire ( August 2010 )
From: Julien (Australia)
During this time I found Belaza's service outstanding in many ways; he was always on time, his English was excellent and I found Belaza always willing to add extra value to our tour to make it the best. Belaza would negotiate with guides, co-ordinate our accommodation and even cook during our river trip, of which, he handled with ease.
The specialty of Belaza is his knowledge of the Malagasy culture and the flora and fauna within the areas we visited. In particular, Belaza took my partner and I to see real Malagasy culture, in his own time, I was very impressed with his dedication. I have travelled to over 30 countries and had many guides; I would rate Belaza as one of the best.
R. Mailer (Berlin)
We booked the Tsiribihina Tour and the visit of the Tsingy National Park. Belaza was our guide during the 5 day trip. He is a very nice guy and he answered all of our questions to his knowledge. He provides a lot of information about Malagasy culture and translates the name of every little village we went through. During the river descent he worked tirelessly: paddling, cooking, preparing of tents and late night entertainment (some drinks to bring the beautiful day to its end). He speaks English very well, if you he's not speaking French...(he does this too, of course). These trips were organized very well, and met my expectation perfectly.
From: Heather (Australia)
Belaza was my guide during an 8 day trip from Tana to Morondava. As promised, he was waiting our arrival with his trademark warm and friendly smile. I immediately trusted him, and he lived up to my initial thoughts.
At all times Belaza put the client's needs and wishes ahead of his own giving priority to our comfort and care. He was unfailingly polite, well groomed and always on time. His English was excellent and he was easy-going providing a wonderful learning experience. Belaza was a great cook, managing to cater to our vegetarian needs with ease. His knowledge of the animals, birdlife and Malagasy life was exceptional.
I would recommend Belaza highly.
From: Krista Doucette
Belaza is very charismatic with a great personality, his English is great (which is not so common) and the adventure tour I was part of was very enjoyable, however not for the faint hearted! Belaza's tour was well organised and suitably flexible to meet the groups' need. His tour gave me great insight into Malagasy life and culture. The highlight for me was Tsingy and also meeting the local children who never seem to tire from shouting "vazaha!".
We have just returned from our trip to Madagascar which we partly organised through Belaza from Gassitours, a very nice and entrepreneurial guy. We would happily reccomend him to anyone who wants to see Madagascar! He and his driver Alan drove us around for a couple days, organised everything inclusing really nice and interesting english spreaking guides. Belaza was very flexible when we wanted to change the itinary during the trip, and when the car broke down they went out of their ways to make sure we could continue without any delay. He and Allan are also fun company which contributed to a really easy going trip. He told us that he plans on staying a small company, but one which can deliver great experiences. For our experience, this was comepletely true!
Valborg (June 2013)
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