Madagascar is an island of secrets, where new species of wildlife are regularly discovered and rumours of mysterious aboriginals and natural phenomena persist in the forest. Christina Dodwell explores its least accessible corners and makes friends with its people.
Her four-month journey began in the highlands where, travelling by horse-drawn stage coach, she encounters a healer, a village poet and families who perform bone-turning rites for the wellbeing of their ancestors.
Taboos, fetishes and astrology weave through her travels among woodcarvers and lead to a royal meeting. She paddles a canoe on the south-east coastal rivers, and lays plans to ride in the capital's Grand Prix horse race.
In the remote west of the island she threads a way between amazing limestone pinnacles in an area normally closed to non-scientists, navigating canyons and river tunnels where crocodiles live on blind white fish.
Travelling by ox cart and on foot, she enjoys Madagascar's rich plantlife and learns how this valuable genetic plant bank is at risk; while delving into prehistory leads her in quest of one of the world's largest fossilised forests.
There could be no better companion in Madagascar than the searching an undaunted Christina Dodwell, Britain's leading woman traveller-explorer in the greatest of the nineteenth-century traditions.