Madagascar’s fifth largest town, Diego Suarez (Antsiranana) is the world’s second largest natural bay. It is an upbeat vibrant town that is a melting pot of cultures. The streets and markets of Diego are a great place to pick up some souvenirs of your trip to Madagascar. Traditional handicraft shops can be found nestled in amongst the magnificent colonial buildings and sleepy streets.
Amber Mountain National Park
Located around 40km from the town of Diego Suarez, the Amber Mountain National Park is an area of great biodiversity and some spectacular flora and fauna.
Strangler fig trees, quinine trees and huge birdnest ferns are all synonymous with the park as are the lemurs; seven species have been recorded in the park.
The best way to explore the park is by hiking the beautiful trails that meander through the forest. Smaller species such as leaf-mimic chameleons, tree boas, pill millipedes and leaftailed geckos can often be spotted here and it is not uncommon to see some of the dirurnal lemur species whilst trekking through the forest.
The Nosy Be Archipelago is Madagascar’s most famous beach destination. Meaning ‘big island’ in Malagasy, Nosy Be is home to sparkling clear turquoise water, white sandy beaches and amazing coral reefs.
Once a major location for plantations of sugar cane, today the island’s main activities are its ylang ylang plantations and tourism. The scent of ylang ylang is ever present in the air and is a perfect backdrop to these laid back islands.
Nosy Be offers a whole host of activities to meet every demand! Whilst some may prefer to sit back and unwind on the breathtaking beaches, exploring the marine life is highly recommended. Snorkelling and diving trips to some of the outer islands and islets gives visitors a glimpse into the underwater world of this fantastic country. For those more interested in land based exploration, the Lobeke Nature Reserve won’t disappoint!
Ankarana National Park
Around 100km south of Diego Suarez, Ankarana National Park is a paradise for hikers. Ankarana is one of Madagascar’s most famous parks and is a favourite with hikers. It has a range of fantastic walking trails as well as fascinating landscape and a whole host of animals!
The park contains one of the highest density of primates of any forest in the world. Ankarana is lemur heaven! – It is home to one of the largest populations of crowned lemurs, Sandfords brown lemur, Perriers black lemur, northern sportive lemur and dwarf lemurs. Birds and reptiles are also prevalent in the park, as are over 350 different plant species.
One of the highlights of any visit to Ankarana is the caves – the maze of caves are home to a number of different bat species that can commonly be seen sweeping through the sky along with the parks flying foxes.
Joffre Ville is the main base for those wanting to explore Amber Mountain National Park. Situated just 4km from the park gate, the village is a wonderful place to experience a taste of Malagasy life.
The small farming and fishing village of Ankify is the gateway to Nosy Be. It is a busy little port town, from which a number of boats sail across the Nosy Be Archipelago. It is a traditional Malagasy village with sandy beaches surrounding it.
© ecoTravel Africa 2011