The north of Madagascar is the most populated region of the island and is home to some of its best conservation areas and diving spots. You will travel from the nation’s capital, Antananarivo, to the lovely bays and beaches of Diego Suarez, then on to the Montagne d’Amber National Park to see the lemurs, chameleons, and other endemic species. Following that, your guide will take you to the Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve, where the Jurassic-era sandstone pinnacles may be seen, and Ankarana Special Reserve and also where you can witness anything from enormous baobabs to dwarf lemurs.
The island of Nosy Be’s aquatic paradise is a highlight; other islands in this archipelago are renowned for their tidal sandbanks, beautiful orchids, and acrobatic lemurs. You will always stay in the best lodging available, whether it be historic homes in Antananarivo and Joffre Ville or hospitable. This route is primarily centered on road transfers, allowing you to truly experience Malagasy life as you travel through charming villages and lush plantations of ylang ylang, cloves, and cocoa.
Antananarivo is Madagascar’s capital, affectionately nicknamed as ‘Tana’ by locals. As soon as you land at Ivato International Airport, your English-speaking guide will take you on a tour of this thriving metropolis, home to at least two million people. Your first stop is the historic district of Ambohimitsimbina, often known as “the hill of sighs,” which is situated on a revered royal hill and was previously home to English missionaries and the queen’s musicians. Following that you will be transported to your lodge for dinner and night stay.
After spending the night in Antananarivo, you take a short-haul trip to Diego Suarez, which is located on the northern tip of Madagascar and consistently ranks among the world’s top ten most picturesque bays. Depending on your schedule, you might visit Sakalava, the Bay of Pigeons, or Dune Bay, three of the area’s major bays where the water of the glistening Indian Ocean is every shade of green and blue and the sandy, golden beaches are essentially abandoned. After a simple picnic lunch in the fishing community of Ramena, we watch the sunset over Sugarloaf Mountain.
The Montagne d’Ambre, as it is known in French, is a biodiversity hotspot that is home to at least 77 endemic bird species, seven primate species, 24 amphibian species, and an estimated thousand flora species. A highlight is witnessing the tiniest chameleon in the world, and aficionados of reptiles will enjoy seeing boas and leaf-tailed geckos. You must travel through Joffre Ville, a historic settlement replete with colonial-era architecture, to get to Amber Mountain. You return to Joffreville after a day spent exploring the national park, where you check into The Litchi Tree, a building constructed in 1902 to house the French colonial admiralty. The Litchi Tree is truly off-the-grid because it generates its own power using solar panels and gets its water from a nearby waterfall.
Today you will experience the Ankarana Special Reserve, one of the island’s protection areas, right now. You will stop at Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve en route from Amber Mountain to Ankarana because of its breathtaking sandstone pinnacles, which date back 150 million years and were recognized as a World Heritage Site in 1990. Wind and rain have worn the red laterite soil over millennia, leaving behind stunning rock formations, or tsingy in Malagasy, that are connected by walkways. At least three different species of lemurs, including the crowned, dwarf, and sportive, can be found here. While bats live in what is believed to be Africa’s largest cave system, ring-tailed mongoose scamper among the vegetation. Baobab trees, elephant-foot plants, and crocodiles in the lakes and rivers are examples of larger wildlife and flora.
On the way from Ankarana, you pass luxuriant sugar cane, coffee, clove, ylang-ylang, and cacao fields that emit an unmistakably pleasant scent into the air. You will eventually come to the Ankify village harbor, where you can board a boat to the busiest and most well-known destination in Madagascar, the island of Nosy Be. The boat arrives to Hellville, the ‘capital’ of Nosy Be, which is distinguished by its antique ylang ylang distillery and buildings from the French colonial era of the 19th century. You won’t have much time to spend in your hotel room, though, as Nosy Be is full of exciting excursions and enjoyable things to do, such a 360-degree panorama from Mount Passot, the island’s highest peak.
The best diving and snorkeling are not close to the beach but rather need a boat journey to one of the other islands in the archipelago. Visit Nosy Komba to see lemurs, Nosy Tanikely, a beautiful protected marine region, or Nosy Sakatia, the orchid island, for fantastic diving. Nosy Iranja, a pair of tiny islands connected by a slender sandbank at low tide, is a romantic highlight. The extremely daring may wish to travel even further away to the lesser-known and more wild Radama or Mitsio archipelagos.
It is only a short trip back to the capital after spending a week discovering the greatest parts of northern Madagascar. If you have the leisure, spend the day either relaxing on the varangue with an iced beverage or going on a tour of Tana’s cultural and historical sites and the area around it. Ambohimanga, a historic hillside fortification, and the Rova, a Medina kingdom structure from the 17th century, are just a few fascinating locations.
After a restful night at your lodge, you’ll be transferred back to Ivato for your trip home.
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