Eden Lodge, on Baobab Beach in the north west of the country, where we spent our last few days in Madagascar, is definitely not such a spot, and I was very glad of it. Yes, it feels like a special place to stay, in a barefoot low-key eco-friendly way. You arrive by boat; no roads serve this isolated spot. Your home is a well-equipped tent, tucked among the trees that line the beach and shaded by a substantial thatch. You spend your days relaxing, swimming or snorkelling, maybe exploring a bit, and your evenings enjoying unpretentious but delicious meals with good wines and cocktails.
You are not alone here. At one end, only a hundred metres or so from the lodge’s main dining area, is a small fishing village. The beach is full of activity throughout the day. Fishermen launch their small boats and (hopefully) return with their catches. Schoolchildren follow the water’s edge on their walks to and from the village school at the other end of the beach. Local women pass, their loads effortlessly balanced on their heads, a feat that never fails to impress me.
The owners show real respect for those who call this place home, and take their responsibilities as ‘invaders’ very seriously. The lodge has created lots of employment opportunities for locals. Before it was established the village was tiny, with no school and high levels of illiteracy and poverty. Since the arrival of the lodge and the employment opportunities it offers, the village has grown as word about those opportunities has spread. Residents encouraged relatives and friends to come and settle here so they too could benefit.
Today the village is well-supported by the lodge. Every family has at least one family member employed there so everyone benefits financially. The lodge buys fish and other produce from the local people. Back in 2010 it financed the building of a school and employed a teacher. Since then two more schools have been opened which together have around 150 pupils from several villages in the area. And whereas in the past the village was isolated and totally self-reliant, nowadays they benefit from regular supplies arriving on the lodge’s boats.
So although I sometimes felt a little guilty at having the luxury to be able to travel here and then sit around doing relatively nothing, while they worked hard and lived a very simple life, that guilt was assuaged by the knowledge that my visit was helping them directly.
Below is a selection of photos taken over the four days we spent here, many of them from the terrace outside our tent. While I almost never promote individual hotels and accommodations here, I feel a link to this special spot is more than justified on this occasion (and no, I’m not on commission): https://www.edenlodge.net/en/.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, given how much I loved this spot, I’m sharing it with Ju-Lyn for her Happy Place, Happy Space challenge!
Our home on the beach
The local fishing village
Another view of the village
Sunday morning on the beach
One of the girls seems to be wearing her Sunday best
Unloading a boat
A passing boat
A local boat ferrying passengers between villages
A local family
Women, and often older brothers and sisters, carry little ones on their back in a sling
I visited Baobab Beach in November 2023