This is the lunch that almost didn’t happen. The Vakona Forest Lodge is the only place in Andasibe that accepts credit cards and since my cash reserves were low after paying for the hike in the park and guiding fees, I was keen to use plastic wherever possible.
Vakona Forest Lodge is quite a ways out of town, you can’t walk it so you need transport to stay or visit here. It is a beautiful drive and you may see birds on the way. After passing the gate, you still have a km or so to get to the main building.
I was so nervous about the credit card not working, I insisted they run the card and get an approval code before serving our lunch. Turns out I had good cause to worry. It took them forever to get a signal! The clerk was taking the machine and walking as far up the stairs as possible, then climbing a small hill while I waited below biting my nails. It was a good 45 minutes before he finally succeeded in getting a signal and charging the card. Woohoo – we can eat!
Actually, they had already given our order to the chef and the food was prepared before the card was approved. I don’t know what they would have done if the card hadn’t gone through as we didn’t have enough cash to pay for it and I had asked them not to prepare the food until I was sure it was paid for. I had also charged a few bottles of water to take with us to get us through until we were back in Tana and could hit up an ATM. The food was really good. I can’t remember exactly what we ordered but it was good, we were definitely satisfied customers!
The dining room has a beautiful view of the small pond and an outdoor terrace so you can watch birds while you eat. A birding group staying at the hotel came in shortly after us so it was interesting to compare notes. They had clearly seen a lot more birds than we had so it does pay to have the best possible guide. Money talks and the large birding companies do have a big advantage over independent birders. Unfortunately, we will never be in the financial position to join one of those tours so we have to do the best we can.
My apologies for not taking notes on these birds. If anyone can help me identify them, please do so in the comments. It was still fun to just enjoy them while having lunch!