Diary blog Madagascar: Nosy Be, Mahajanga, Ankarafantsika and Ivato

In the previous diary blog we ended up in Nosy Be. We are currently taking a road trip through the north of Madagascar, an area where hardly any tourists come. Curious how week three and week four of our world trip will go? Then read on!

Perfect beaches, perfect sea in Nosy Be

Our first night in the luxury Villa Sakina is over. After a nice breakfast from chef Theo, we go to the port to pick up our car. We make this journey through the north of Madagascar with a car from Roadtrip Africa. Two days ago we had a car breakdown and now a new car is already being delivered!

Nosy Be is not big, you can drive around the entire island in three hours, but there is plenty to do. On Sunday we visit the beautiful Andilana beach. Most of the visitors on the beach are local people who stroll around the beach all dressed up! I am approached by a little girl in a beautiful white dress: “Bonjour madame Vazaha”, which means “Hello Mrs White Foreigner”. When I wave back she keeps jumping happily in the sand.Nosy Be

This incident is typical of Madagascar, although this is one of the most touristy places in the country, people still seem surprised to see tourists!

On our last day, we visit another island: Nosy Iranja. Read here more about this visit and our time in Nosy Be!

Read here everything you need to know about Nosy Be and what you can do there!

Back to the south

A bit heartbroken we say goodbye to Villa Sakina after three days. What a wonderful stay this was! At 6.30 a.m. we take the ferry, which is really no more than a floating raft with an engine that fits exactly one car. The water is smooth and we see the sunrise over Nosy Komba, the island next to Nosy Be.

Two hours later we arrive in the port of Ankify. We drive straight on because we want to be in Antsohihy before sunset. On our way to the north, we already passed by this town. There is little to experience here, but the views during this part of the route are beautiful and ever-changing. We drive from a green tropical landscape to the warmer south and around us, it becomes more rocky and arid.Roadtrip Africa Nosy be

Frog suicide in Mahajanga

The next day is also a travel day: in over 8 hours we drive to the coastal town of Mahajanga. Tired of the long journey we arrive at our hotel (Holidays hotel) for that night. It is … well, let’s say outdated. The bungalows where we sleep look like they should have been renovated 20 years ago. But it is cheap and there is a tennis court and swimming pool. Both also rather tapered but great to cool off and play a game of tennis.

Before we fall asleep, we discover three frogs in the room. Too tired to catch them we go to sleep and that night (probably) one of the frogs jumps into the fan. The next morning we see a puddle of blood on the floor and a piece of frog against the wall. Brrr!

We pack our things and move to a campsite near the beach (Campiland). Mahajanga is located by the sea and is a busy city but we are in a quiet area just north of the centre where you have nice beaches.

Research in Ankarafantsika National Park

On the way to the capital city, we drive through the Ankarafantsika National Park. We have already spent two days here, but by chance, we encounter a group of researchers from Catawba University. They invite us to stay with them at another campsite for one night and to spend a morning on their research. Of course, we don’t say no to that and so we have a very nice evening and day where we stroll through the forest looking for the Fossa, a kind of feline dog. Read here more about this visit. 

Returning to Ivato and handing in the car.

After one last stopover in the village of Maevatanana (where we sleep in a dirty hotel, hotel Kat-Sem) we drive back to Tana on our last day. We leave in the morning at 6.45 am with 25 degrees, but soon the temperature starts to fall. We drive into the highlands of Madagascar and it is much colder here. The area is reminiscent of the highlands of Scotland! Nothing but vast hills with winding roads around it. Once in Ivato, the city near the airport, we hand in the jeep of Roadtrip Africa. We’re going to miss it for sure! The next two weeks we will be completely dependent on public transport.Roadtrip Africa

Four days of work in peace and beautiful surroundings.

The following days we stay in the Ivato area. We sleep in two different guesthouses from Ramartour, a tour operator here in Madagascar, where we take the time to write new blogs and edit photos. In the meantime, we are spoiled with delicious food and large rooms with nice facilities in both Ecole Lodge and Meva Guesthouse. In this last hotel, there is a large kitchen, so off course we cook a nice diner ourself. This is something we often miss while travelling: cooking yourself!

Read all about our North Madagascar itinerary for a 2-week road trip here!

Seasick on the way to Ile Sainte-Marie!

After four days of relaxation, two travel days await us. First, we drive by bus from Antananarivo (tip: the buses from Costisse are nice) to Tamatave, a coastal town in the east of Madagascar. The next morning we get up at 4 am to catch the bus and then the boat to Ile Sainte-Marie (Nosy Boraha). Unfortunately, the sea is very rough and we get really seasick.

The reason we are in Madagascar: whales

Fortunately, Ile Sainte-Marie is more than worth it. We are completely pampered by Kate, the manager of Villas de Vohilava and quickly feel so good again that we dare to board a boat the next day. But not without good reason: we go on a whale safari. And how cool is that! For four hours we are on a boat with researchers and we spot whale after whale.

It is really an amazing experience and also the reason why we came to Madagascar in the first place. Around this time the whales come here to mate and give birth to babies. We leave the boat four hours later with great enthusiasm. And now it’s time to enjoy this beautiful island: Ile Sainte-Marie!

Where did we sleep these two weeks in Madagascar:

  • Nosy Be: Villa Sakina, so beautiful, so luxurious, the ultimate relaxation! €132 per night, including cook and housekeeper.
  • Antsohihy: Hotel Paradisier, basic but good. € 15 per night.
  • Mahajanga: Holidays Hotel, run down and a bit dirty. Swimming pool and tennis court € 17 per night. Campiland camping, recommended! Including swimming pool and good showers! €2.5 per night, swimming pool €1.70.
  • Ankarafantsika: Camping run by local women. € 1.25 per night.
  • Maevatanana: Hotel Kat-Sem, not clean, showers that don’t work, not recommended! € 17 per night.
  • Environment Ivato: Ecole Lodge, beautiful lodges in a quiet environment, €45 per night. Meva Guesthouse, nice spacious rooms near the airport, € 40 per night.
  • Tamatave (Toamasina): Hotel Flamboyants, not special but great for a night. € 13.20 per night.
  • Ile Sainte-Marie: Villas de Vohilava, beautiful villas on the beach with a good restaurant. We really enjoy the hospitality and chill vibe! From € 38 per night.

Vilas de Vohilava

Statistics for these two weeks:

↠ Number of hours in the car/bus: +/- 28 hours
↞ Number of km driven: 2000 km
↠ Number of nights camped: 2
↞ Number of hikes: 2
↠ Number of whales: 5
↞ Number of times I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming: 8 times

Wondering if a trip through Madagascar is expensive? Read more in our Madagascar budget blog!

Highlight Madagascar

Whale watching! Wow, it was so cool to join the researchers of Ceta Mada (the organization that ensures that whale observations go in a responsible and animal-friendly way) on a boat and spot five different humpback whales! The animals are huge (14 meters long) and I found it very impressive to see them jump out of the water! We were very lucky because the whale season has just begun (it runs from late June to early October).

Lowlight Madagascar

Ooo poor Ries, he got so seasick that he kept vomiting. I didn’t feel too good myself either, but I could still hold my lunch inside. Ries on the other hand, well let’s say I have never seen him look so pale and miserable. We thought in advance that the boat trip would only take an hour and a half, but in reality, we spent three miserably long hours on a rough sea.

We are already halfway our time in Madagascar until now it is fantastic. Stay tuned for more diary blogs!

Travel Blogs MadagascarClick here for all my blogs about Madagascar.

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