Madagascar - Nosy Be & Diego Suarez - 7 Nights / 8 Days
Madagascar is also home to many incredibly coral rich and species diverse marine areas, most notably around the island of Nosy Be, where one can find a variety of hard and soft corals, sponges, invertebrates, large schooling pelagic fish, a vast array of brightly coloured reef fish, including wrasse, parrot fish, trigger fish, damsels, butterfly fish… the list goes on and on. These reef fish in turn attract other rarer and larger creatures to these majestic waters.
Nosy Be is a haven for marine life and recreational SCUBA divers alike. The marine environment is of overwhelming importance to the local communities, providing the majority of food supplies and employment.
Nosy Be also enjoys seasonal visits from a large number of whale sharks, the largest fish in the world reaching up to 14 metres in size, as well as migratory visits from many cetaceans (34 species found in Madagascan waters) such as the humpback whale. The local dolphin population can be sighted on occasion all year round.
Areas such as the Tanikely marine reserve have been created to protect the sea life, and evidence shows that it works. With implemented sustainable fishing practices and a strengthened ecosystem through protective laws, there can be a healthy balance between marine life and community needs.
Nosy Komba and Lokobe forest reserve is home to three species of lemur, the black, Hawk’s sportive, and mouse lemur. From the forests around the Turtle Cove base and visits to the forest reserve, it’s easy to observe their social and behavioural characteristics, whilst enjoying the notion of being up close to such an iconic and rare animal in its natural habitat.
One of the five turtle species found around Madagascar is the Hawksbill turtle. Hawksbill turtles are frequently found around the island of Nosy Komba where our research centre is located. Hawksbill turtles are of great importance to the marine environment as they control the populations of smaller organisms. They are listed as critically endangered on the IUCN red list.
Diego Suarez or Antsiranana is a town in Madagascar named after the Spanish spelling of Diogo Soares.
Antsiranana, situated in the extreme north of Madagascar, known as Diego Suarez until 1975 and still called Diego by many, is the capital of Madagascar's northernmost province. It has one of the world's most beautiful deep-water harbours, complete with a photogenic sugarloaf mountain. Visitors usually love this city, which is probably the most French city on Madagascar. It has this colonial feel over it. This is the largest city of the north with a huge cosy market, a range of fine restaurants and some fantastic places and national parks to visit nearby. Diego is the perfect place to hang around and prepare for visiting the neighbourhood.
What to see in Diego...
The town is the gateway to Montagne d'Ambre and Ankarana national parks, and many visitors simply pass through Antsiranana, careless of its charms. Those with the time to linger and discover the decaying colonial architecture (the old covered market and the former Hotel de la Marine for seafarers are notable examples), the vibrant market and the wealth of crafts workshops will find Diego atmospheric and enjoyable. The old military quarter, north of Place Foch, occupies a peninsula and overlooks the port. A particular pleasure of walking around Diego is the unexpected variety of stunning views over the bay, seemingly around almost every corner.
The most successful example of colonial architecture is offered by the thread of colonnades of the rue Colbert, which ends in rue Richelieu. By turning left, one discovers an imposing colonial-style residence surrounded by ravenala trees. These are the current headquarters of a territorial administration.
The bay and the port
The Bay of Antsiranana is one of largest and most breathtakingly beautiful lagoons in the world. Shaped like a four-petalled flower with a narrow mouth at its eastern tip, it opens into the Indian Ocean. At the southern edge of the bay the so called Sugar Loaf is its fabulous landmark which one can easily photograph by the roadside when approaching the Emerald Sea.
A day trip to the nearby beach at Ramena is very recommendable. Ramena is a small village with a sandy uncrowded beach, which does not seem to have benefited much from the tourists excepting some hotels and restaurants on the spot. The beach is popular among aging vazahas aging with young Malagasy fee-washing girls.
Emerald Bay is just one of 3 enclosed bays in Diego Suarez. It is round shaped, about 20 km in perimeter, shallow in the first few meters- hence the “emerald” appellation and just moderately deep at the centre to change the colour to turquoise and not blue black. The bay comprises several pristine and empty beaches with almost no tourist development (excepting the a few bed and breakfast cottages expatriate-owned huts). There are a lot of fishers willing to take tourists the bay. Ali (mobile: + 261 (0) 32 04 651 49) is a recommendable one.
The three bays
A series of beautiful turquoise bays, lined with long white beaches that bear fascinating names such as the Pigeons’ Bay, the Duns’Bay, the Sakalava Bay. In the latter, there are three islets but also the Hotel Club baie des Sakalava, a tourist resort with 1O bungalows in a bay open to the winds and big waves of the Indian Ocean that make this place one of the best surfing spots in Madagascar. You can get there by sea or by the road that leads to Ramena. A superb corner and very not much visited.
You can go to the Bay Dunes first, through Ramena (only with a 4x4). But visitors have to pass through the military zone and therefore be sure to pay some money to a corrupted guard. To avoid this, better access the bays through Sakalava. From there you can access the other bays via a bad track. Enjoy the very beautiful scenery with the emerald sea in the distance.
To get to the extreme northern tip of Madagascar, a 4x4 vehicle is essential. The easiest route (but the road is tough) is the one who passes by and Namakia and Antsahampano. Some taxis are committed to the bush village of Ambodimanga. The trail leading to the village of Antsisikala passes through a very picturesque limestone relief flanked by imposing baobabs. The fifty kilometres journey takes approximately 4 our 5-hours. At the cape, the magnificent coast seems to have been shredded. From here you are 400 km of Dzaoudzi (Mayotte). You can try to stay overnight at somebody’s house, but bring your own water and food.
Windsor castle and Courier bay
At the rock formation known as 'Windsor Castle', you will find some tsingy and a variety of drought-resistant endemic plants. From the top (390 m), the panorama stretches from Montagne d'Ambre in the south to the remote Cap d'Ambre, the northern tip of Madagascar. Traces of the World War II fortifications are still visible. The access is by road until the junction of Antsahampano. Then follow a trail up to Ampasindava, a small coastal village located at the southern end of the Courier bay, where the beaches are succeeding on a dozen kilometres.
Montagne des Francais
Almost equidistant between Ramena and Diego is the Montagne des Français.
The Montagne des Français Reserve is a dramatic massif lying just across the bay from Antsiranana (Diego Suarez) and adjacent to the popular tourist site of Ramena Beach consisting principally of dry deciduous forest. The Massif covers an area of around 5,000 hectares and ranges in elevation from 100 to 400 meters. Its tortured relief is formed by various rock types, including tertiary limestone and sandstones. Montagne de Francais is a popular spot for climbers
The are is part of the larger Ramena protected area complex which also includes Orangea Reserve and the Ambodivahibe Marine Reserve. These three protected areas are currently being created and will be designated in 2008. The ascent offers superb views over the bay, and the prospect of good birding and sightings of Sanford's brown lemurs. There is a French fort and the only (non-rockclimbing) ascent possible are through dug-out worm hole tunnels which could be used to ambush enemy troops. Visitors can explore the canyon area and some caves.The cliffs and caves attract rock climbers. The site includes 180 channels ranging from 3 to 7c on 12 sectors, with very different grades of difficulty. Best climbing time is from June to November.
The Nosy Hara Archipelago is a group of about 12 islands which is now involved in ac onservation project to protect marine resources from unsustainable exploitation. The unique combination of fossil coral cliffs, jagged peaks, remote locality, and proximity to rich fishing grounds provided ideal habitat for Madagascar’s largest extant bird, the endangered and endemic Madagascar fish-eagle. Nearly as large as North America’s bald eagle, Madagascar’s cousin exhibits a white tail and pale head, but it is much more rare. The estimated population now stands at around 300 birds.
Jungle Parks is another reason to visit this area. This brand new natural camp is focused on sustainable eco-tourism and development of the local communities, which participate actively in the project.
The camp is situated in the natural park of Ambohitra Antsingy, not far from the Montagne des Francais. It offers a wide number of activities to explore and enjoy this beautiful area, like trekking and trails, climbing, speleology or bird watching.
The bungalows, all of them built with natural materials, are welcoming and comfortable. Some of them, and this is the highlight of this place, are real tree-houses, built on huge tress a stand a couple of meters above the ground. These cute bungalows are also very comfortable and the in the biggest one can sleep up to four people.
Apart from the touristic use of the camp, it also serves as an information and educational centre for the local communities.
Day 1: Johannesburg –Nosy Be
We meet you.Transfer and accommodation at Vanila Hotel / Arc en Ciel / Sarimanok Hotel on a half board basis
Day 2: Nosy be
Visit Island of lemurs “ Nosy Komba” ,then snorkeling in the another island “Nosy tanikely” with materials and picnic lunch.Return back to Nosy be.Accommodation on a half board basis.
Day 3: Nosy be
Visit of Lokobe reserve the whole day with picnic lunch.In the end of the afternoon, return back to Accommodation on a half board basis.
Day 4: Nosy be – Ankarana
After breakfast ,transfer by motor boat to Ankify.Then by car to Ankarana.Visit of Ankarana.Accommodation at Ankarana Lodge on a half board basis.
Day5: Ankarana –Diego
In the morning ,visit of rest of Ankarana: baobabs, Tsingy ,lemurs etc.Then ,drive to Diego Suarez.Accommodation at Meva Hotel / Lakana Hotel on a half board basis
Day 6: Diego
Relax on the beach.Accommodation on a half board basis.
Day 7: Diego –Nosy be
Transfer to Ankify, then by motor boat to Nosy be.You will be met by our representative.Accommodation at on a half board basis.
Day 8: Nosy Be - Johannesburg
Transfer to the airport.Check in for the flight to Johannesburg.
International flights & Airport taxes on Sa Airlink( Direct) / Air Austral (Via Reunion)
Visit of park and reserve as mentioned in the program
Local guide in the park and reserve
Lunch picnic during the visits
Hotels on a half board basis
Drinks, personal expenses,optional extra, tips, medical insurance
If your budget allows you could fly via Reunion Island and visit all 3 destinations. Please contact us with your preferred dates. This is an all year round itinerary except during middle Jan to end of march when it is the monsoon season and travel to Nosy Be is not recommended.