Toamasina, also known as Tamatave, is an attractive town exposed to the winds that blow from the open sea. It contains the main port on Madagascar’s east coast. Toamasina is marked by many influences. Its main avenue lined with tall palm trees and its large covered market are worth a visit.
Beaches and spices
The bathing resort of Foulpointe to the north of Toamasina lies at the edge of a lagoon protected by a coral reef. Here, visitors can experience the gentle Malagasy lifestyle, smell the spices that are grown in the surrounding region and taste the delicious litchis at the end of the year. Foulpointe is also steeped in history since the time of the pirates and buccaneers, as testified by the old fort at the back of the beach.
The rain forests in the east of Madagascar are a listed World Heritage site. They contain an unrivalled rich biodiversity of which the nearby site of Ivoloina offers an insight. The Ivoloina botanical garden and zoological park contains the main species of plants and trees that grow here, native lemurs and a reptile vivarium.
Toamasina is the starting point of the Pangalanes Channel, a navigable waterway that winds its way inland to the south over several hundred kilometers. After a 20-minute cruise, visitors enter a world of lush, tropical vegetation.
Attractions & excursions
The jewel of Madagascar
The island of Nosy Be, which lies in the tranquil waters of the Mozambique Channel, is the jewel of Madagascar’s North West region. With its volcanic terrain and relief softened by time, it enjoys maximum sunshine attracting sea bathing and water sports enthusiasts to its famous beaches. The island’s hilly interior offers splendid views over the coastline and the more distant north-west coast of Madagascar.
Nosy Be is surrounded by small islands which all exude a special charm. They include Nosy Tanikely, ideal for picnicking on the beach bordered by a natural aquarium, nearby Nosy Komba, the lemur island and, to the west, Nosy Sakatia and its diving sites, and Nosy Iranja and its two islands joined by a sand bar. There are frequent ferry services between these magical islands.
The interior of Nosy Be resembles a large tropical garden where ylang-ylang plantations cover the hills. Distilleries open to the public convert these delicate flowers into essential oils that are sold to leading fragrance companies. Tropical fruit, spices and coffee are grown in the island’s fertile soil.
A primitive forest
The south west of Nosy-Be, the most preserved part of the island, contains the Lokobe Nature Reserve and its primitive forest with its numerous lemurs, species of birds and exceptionally rich flora. Several walking trails enable visitors to discover the area in a few hours.
Attractions & excursions
In the extreme south east of Madagascar, the region of Fort-Dauphin (also known as Tolagnaro) covers a dazzling landscape of bays flanked by endless beaches of which Libanona, at the bottom of the town, is one of the best known. The local restaurants serve red lobster, the region’s specialty.
A lush and verdant landscape
The lush vegetation of Anosy, the region around the town of Fort-Dauphin, includes several national parks, reserves and estates open to the public. They contain indigenous fauna such as lemurs, chameleons, tortoises and crocodiles as well as original endemic plants. Boat trips and hikes to the foot of waterfalls offer a gentle initiation into the world of the Tropics.
The gateway to the Deep South
Fort-Dauphin extends to the border of two very different natural habitats: the green and hilly east and the semi-arid south. The region has an abundance of vanilla, mangoes and litchis, while after some 50 kilometres, the road leading to the Deep South takes you into a new world of cactuses and plants that thrive in the dry terrain.
A journey through history
The first European settlers landed here. Near the port of Ehoala, a short walk will take you to the foot of a ruined Portuguese fort dating back to the 18th century. Some decades later, the French built a fortified compound on the rocky headland overlooking the town of Fort-Dauphin. Its remains have been preserved: a small local museum traces the rich history of the region.