Grottes d'Anjohibe

Western Madagascar

This series of subterranean rooms and galleries, some of them the size of buildings, are among Madagascar's most impressive. Stretching over 5km, and adorned with stalactites and stalagmites, the caves are penetrated by shafts of light from passageways and holes in the ceiling, giving an eerie feel. However, the stunning natural swimming pools (admission Ar20,000) of deep emerald-green are the main attraction. Each is framed by luxuriant vegetation and ravinala palm trees fanning their leaves like parading ostriches.

The first pool you come to is shallow, while the second pool, at the foot of a spectacular waterfall, is deep and wonderful for swimming.

It takes a good 3½ hours to get to Anjohibe from Majunga and to do it as a day trip you’ll need to leave at first light to be back by sunset. Local guide Rivo, who speaks basic English, can organise two-day visits, with a night of camping by the pool (Ar10,000 per person). The facilities are basic (tent, bush toilet, no shower) and the meals (Ar20,000 each for lunch and dinner, Ar12,000 for breakfast), prepared by locals, are simple. The campsite is a favourite of local lemurs. At night, Rivo will get the campfire going.

The track to the Grottes d’Anjohibe is passable only between April and October and requires a 4WD.