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Mahajanga (Majunga)
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Introducing Mahajanga (Majunga)

Mahajanga is a sprawling and somnolent port town with a palm-lined seaside promenade, wide avenues, shady arcades and walls draped with gorgeous bougainvillea. It is sometimes also known as Majunga.

With its large Muslim and Indian populations, and historical connections with Africa, Mahajanga is one of the country’s more colourful and ethnically diverse places, similar in atmosphere to many places on the East African coast. The women wrap themselves in the brightly coloured cotton wraps seen in the Comoros, Zanzibar and Mombasa, and there are some Swahili-style carved doorways amid the crumbling buildings in the town’s older part.

North and south of Mahajanga are white-sand beaches, although some are not suitable for swimming due to sharks and strong currents. It’s best to ask at the hotels, tour companies or even bars in Mahajanga to get the scoop on what’s safe and what’s not (currents change, as do shark patterns) before diving in anywhere around here.