In Malagasy people’s perception, the eastern forest symbolises inexhaustible wealth! Such a positive imagery should be toned down as deforestation also remains an issue to tackle in this part of the country. The East has tremendous potential, thanks to the valuables tree species of its forests, its underground resources, its abundant food and industrial production, its natural sanctuaries and preserved sites. The famous “Eastern rain” does not even constitute an impediment to visitors. Nature would not be this beautiful without it…
ECOTOURISM - CULTURE – LEISURE - SEA
Air Madagascar and Air Austral provide international flights linking La Réunion and Tamatave.
The National Highway RN2 is well-maintained and allows speedy access to the regional capital. For those with more time at their disposal, a combination of Road – Pangalanes channel via Manambato can be organized. Train wise, Madarail offers two remarkable charter products: the Trans Lémurie Express, a train which was rearranged with precious Malagasy materials and the Micheline of which Madagascar has the last operational sample in the world. The Madarail Tourism Service (Service Tourisme de Madarail) can provide further information.
Tamatave is the second largest city in Madagascar and its economic activity maritime. The “heart” of the city is located around the Place Bien Ailé, famous for its banyan trees planted to match Malagasy astrological signs. The attraction in the districts of the old part of Tamatave is the concentration of Creole houses, different from those found elsewhere given the fact they stand on stilts.
The streets of Tamatave have not been renamed after the island’s independence et still carry the names of Georges Clémenceau, Pierre Loti or Richelieu. Three places in Tamatave are real “institutions”, its style. First the Avenue de l’Indépendance, shaded by palm trees and where the statue of the Southern Seas Goddess stands. Second is the waterfront (and its own small museum, worth a visit) leading to the port. The Bazar Be hall, a symbol of exotic Tamatave, is one of the very few infrastructures which resisted to the 1927 cyclone.
THE NORTHERN SEASHORE
- Foulpointe, 60 kilometers away, bathes in the turquoise waters of its very beautiful lagoon and is well_ appreciated for leisure. Among its vestiges can be quoted: the pirates’ cemetery and the Fort built by Radama 1st in the early part of the 19th Century. Its golf course is the only golf course by the sea in the whole of Madagascar.
- Mahambo, located some thirty kilometers from Foulpointe is a very representative village of the east coast, between sea and forest. Its surfing school is very popular, both for the quality of the location and for the schools instructors, trained at the sport’s most famous destinations.
- Fenerive Est is located 16 kilometers away from Mahambo, the Analanjirofo Region’s chef-lieu. Fenerive Est’s coffee, clove and litchi plantations make it a very important agricultural area. Some sixty kilometers from there, the fishermen’s village of Soanierana Ivongo is where the boarding for Sainte Marie island takes places.
- The Asarabe is celebrated each year in Foulpointe ; it is a repentance ritual, organised by the villages’ chiefs. It includes prayers to the sea and sacred zebus’ sacrifice. Look for it in September, at the Manjakatompo Antsiraka-Mahavelogno « Doany ».
- Avy letchi e ! The litchi has arrived ! This delicious fruit is one of the best attraction for the East. At the launching of the production campaign, the whole region goes into a real litchi fever, from the large packaging units to the smallest villages along the RN2. This fever is a good excuse to celebrate with several events. In November, each year.
RIVER SAILING - DISCOVERY
This partly artificial river prevents the isolation of small towns and villages along the straight east coast. In some parts, it faces silting or obstruction by eucalyptus or water hyacinths Nevertheless, the Pangalanes continues to bring life along this luxurious coastal strip, sailed along by pirogues and flat-bottomed metallic boats. A few riverside attractions between Mananjaryand Tamatave include:
- The Ambohitsara village and its wild boar-shaped rock, which looks more like an elephant. Has it been brought by Arab migrants or sculpted onsite?
- Nosy Varika, whichmeans Lemur Island. 100 kilolmeters inland flow the Sakaleona waterfalls, the highest of Madagascar (200 meters), which have yet to be approached.
- Mahanoro where life evolves around pirogues, fishing nets and harpoons. The fishermen leaves their huts as early as 3 AM and only return in the afternoon.
- Vatomandry, the closest beach to Antananarivo since the national highway RN 11A was beautifully rebuilt. The road was highly beneficial to the area in terms of visits and activities.
- Manambato and the Rasoabe Lake form a superb artificial lake, the taboos of which should however be observedBoat shuttles depart from there to reach another lake, , Ampitabe, and another paradise, Akanin’ny Nofy the « Nest of Dreams ».
- Akanin’ny Nofy experienced its moment of glory in the 1960s. It is for its nostalgic atmosphere and the impression of being isolated from everything that people have a passion for it. Nature and simple pleasures at their best.
Here starts one of the most beautiful portions of the Pangalanes, still with its succession of lakes, harrows of shrimp fishermen, a vegetation with a toned down “green hell” appearance.
HISTORY - CULTURE - ECOTOURISM
SEA AND DIVING - WHALEWATCHING
Air Madagascar international flights link Sainte Marie to La Réunion.
Air Madagascar also provides local flights to the destination.
By sea, motor boats leave from de Soanierana Ivongo and docks at the Ambodifotatra Barachois (a coastal lagoon separated from the ocean by a sand bar). The crossing takes approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes; bring a raincoat and a few sweaters along.
This lengthy island off the Soanierana Ivongo coast is a true nature sanctuary. Due to the lack of high hills, the climate is milder and less rainy than that of the rest of the East Coast.
- Ambodifotatra the main town, shows evidence of a glorious past, as demonstrated by the presence of the Square Albrand, the old port built the 19th Century, Petit Barachois the in ancient citadel of the Compagnie des Indes, the church established in 1859, the Madame islet at the mouth of the bay.
- The Western Coast is also called the Waterfalls Coast or the Whales Coast. There lies the largest bay of Sainte Marie: Lounkitsy.
- The East is the home to a coral reef, which constitutes a real aquarium. Ampanihy looks like a peninsula covered with primary forest and is surrounded by mangroves.
- The south is the most populated part and gathers most hotels. Here sit the 3 Ilots aux Sables, which form a natural barrier against the swell; the l’Ile aux Nattes, is truly a destination within the destination and can be reached by means of a short pirogue crossing.
The marine fauna is remarkably diverse. The island of Sainte Marie, a diver’s paradise, boasts several priviledged diving sites: the islets in the South, the reefs of the Eastern Coast, the reefs fringing the West Coast, the Ile aux Baleines, the Pointe à Larrée, the Epave de la Cocoteraie
Sainte Marie is a real nursery for the humpback whales of Antarctica. This is where, after a 500 km voyage, they gather to give birth and mate, from June to September.
In 2001, the Megaptera Association issued a “Code of Good Conduct ». Each year, teams of environmental volunteers monitor compliance to the Code, while playing the role of guides during sea outings.
Islanders celebrate the arrival of the whales, especially as the latter are part of their cultural heritage. From June to September, folklore and traditions criss-cross to the sound of tropical rhythms…
[ PARKS AND NATURE RESERVES [
- The Ivoloina Zoo and Botanical Garden is located 11 km North of Tamatave. It gathers plant species of the East, is well-maintained and provides technical assistance to farmers. Fauna wise, it shelters lemurs and some very prolific radiated and angulate tortoises, as well as harmless boas.
- 138 km East of Antananarivo, via the RN2, Andasibe is the most visited of all protected areas. It consists of the Mantadia Park and the Analamazaotra Nature Reserve. A true fauna pot of gold, Andasibe shelters 11 species of lemurs, 37 species of reptiles and is a famous bird watching location.
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Private organization acknowledged by State, the Madagascar National Tourism Board was created in 2003. It includes all professions, regions and tourist operators and a representative of…