Must see attractions in Northern Madagascar

  • Sights in Parc National de Marojejy

    Parc National Marojejy

    This is one of Madagascar’s flagship parks. Consisting of more than 550 sq km of pristine mountainous rainforest, it covers the Marojejy massif, an area of magnificent scenery. Attractions here are the highly endangered silky sifaka alongside 10 other lemur species and myriad plants, birds and insects. It's accessible to those who want a fairly easy nature walk as well as those looking for a climbing challenge through several levels of montane rainforest.

  • Sights in The West Coast

    Andilana

    Far and away Nosy Be’s best beach, Andilana, at the island’s northwest tip, is a long stretch of pearly white sand, with water that’s true azure and clear as gin. It’s ideal for swimming and chilling for an afternoon, with gorgeous sunsets.

  • Sights in Réserve Spéciale Anjanaharibe Sud

    Réserve Spéciale Anjanaharibe-Sud

    A place of outstanding beauty and solitude, this little-visited 286-sq-km reserve is the northernmost outpost of the black indri. It is also home to the silky sifaka, white-fronted brown lemurs and some primordial trees. There are hot springs to visit, too. Getting here is half the fun: by taxi on a rutted road, on foot and by moto-taxi.

  • Sights in Parc National Montagne d’Ambre

    Parc National Montagne d’Ambre

    This wonderful national park is literally a breath of fresh air from the arid northern plains: at 1000m, it is generally 10°C cooler than Diego or Ankarana, even more in winter, and its luxuriant forests could not contrast more with the mineral beauty of the lower grounds. For visitors, the park provides lovely walks in gorgeous forests, with plenty of waterfalls and lakes to rest by.

  • Sights in Nosy Be

    Parc National Marin de Nosy Tanikely

    Nosy Tanikely is a protected marine reserve 10km south of Nosy Be. It's one of the best snorkelling sites in the area, with coral, numerous fish and sea turtles. Snorkelling is best in the morning, before the wind picks up. Although the reserve officially opens at 8am, you are allowed to come earlier – just stick around until the reserve officials arrive so that you can pay your admission fees. Snorkelling equipment is available from the reserve’s cabin for Ar10,000.

  • Sights in Antsiranana Region

    Camp Andrafiamena Andavakoera

    Located 60km south of Diego Suarez, then 20km east, this camp is perched on a ridge overlooking the rainforest. This is the last refuge of the black sifakas ( Propithecus perrieri) and guides lead walks to see them (2½ hours Ar15,000), to a natural pool (five hours, Ar25,000) and other circuits to the tsingy and caves. The nearby village of Anjakahely is famous for its perfumed rice. Bungalows are very comfortable, with nets and bathrooms, and meals are available (menu Ar35,000).

  • Sights in Réserve Spéciale Ankarana

    Réserve Spéciale Ankarana

    This striking and undeveloped fantasy land is home to uniquely Malagasy sights: psychedelic fields of spiky tsingy (limestone pinnacle formations) next to dry forests. Running through and under the tsingy are hidden forest-filled canyons, an extensive cave system and subterranean rivers. The park is famed for its bat-filled grottoes steeped in legend and history, where the Antakarana (the predominant tribe in northern Madagascar) took refuge from the Merina (the traditional ruling elite from the highlands) during the 18th-century tribal wars.

  • Sights in Nosy Be

    Nosy Iranja

    The gorgeous Nosy Iranja, southwest of Nosy Be, consists of two islands: larger, inhabited Nosy Iranja Be (about 2 sq km) and tiny Nosy Iranja Kely (0.13 sq km). The islands are connected by a 1.5km-long sand bar, negotiable on foot at low tide. Sea turtles regularly lay eggs on the beaches. Nosy Iranja is a popular sailing day trip from Nosy Be (for two Ar624,000). The excursion generally includes snorkelling, swimming and a good lunch on board the boat.

  • Sights in The West Coast

    Ambondrona

    On a small bay just north of Madirokely, Ambondrona is more tranquil than its southern neighbours, with lovely views of the mainland hills across the sea.

  • Sights in Ambanja

    Millot Plantations

    This beautiful plantation, established in 1904, is a leading producer of organic cocoa, spices and essential oils, and a visit to this little slice of paradise is not only highly informative but a true festival of the senses. The tour can be topped off with lunch in the beautiful old farmhouse. However, some readers report that the welcome here is less than gracious.

  • Sights in Antsiranana Region

    Tsingy Rouges

    One of Madagascar’s most awesome natural wonders, these scraggly pinnacles – erosion’s work of art – are made of laterite, an iron oxide–rich soil with an intense red-brick colour. These surreal formations stand on the edge of beautiful canyons some 65km southeast of Diego. It’s a fragile environment, and local authorities have thankfully stepped in to protect the site. There are three areas you can access, including a breathtaking viewpoint.

  • Sights in Sava Region

    Domaine d’Ambohimanitra

    Meaning 'hill of perfumes', the Domaine d'Ambohimanitra produces various types of vanilla on its 60 hectares along with cinnamon, ravintsara, allspice and cloves. On a 2½-hour visit you will learn about production and processing and get to plant a vanilla vine. Lunch at the gracious colonial farmhouse is included. Tours are in English. Book two or three days in advance. Minimum of two participants.

  • Sights in Sava Region

    Soavoanio Coconut Plantation

    This enormous coconut plantation extends across 50 sq km, where the trees march away into the distance in strict lines. On the two-hour visit you will see germination, seedlings and processing of the nuts into copra and coconut oil. Beehives produce coconut-flavoured honey. Tours are in French only, so hire a guide from the Office Régional du Tourisme de la SAVA and go with your own vehicle.

  • Sights in Diego Suarez (Antsiranana)

    Jardin Tropical

    Set in a cyclone-ravaged Creole house in the French residential quarter, the Jardin Tropical provides a welcome, leafy green space in the centre of town. Three areas of garden – primary forest, rock and full sun – showcase different types of planting. Animals include crocodiles in the river at the bottom of the hill, porcupines and chameleons and lots of birds. Eco-projects are offered for local children. Concerts arranged in collaboration with Alliance Française are held on a stage in the garden.

  • Sights in Nosy Be

    Mont Passot

    Mt Passot (329m), Nosy Be’s loftiest point, lies about 15km northwest of Hell-Ville (two-hour drive). It’s a good spot for admiring sunsets and the sweeping panorama. It’s also one of the best places to see Nosy Be’s crater lakes. Unfortunately, the viewing area is now packed with souvenir stalls, which somewhat detracts from the experience. The tourism authorities offer a 6km (four to five hours) walk here. A guide is obligatory (for one to two Ar10,000, per person thereafter Ar5000).

  • Sights in Andapa

    Réserve National d'Antanetiambo

    Just 6km north of Andapa, this reserve is supported by the Lemur Conservation Foundation and run by Désiré Rabary. You can spot northern bamboo lemurs and mouse lemurs in the forest and a multitude of birds in the wetlands, ride a pirogue on the river or hire a bike (Ar5000) for riding through the rice fields. A taxi from Andapa costs around Ar15,000.

  • Sights in Nosy Be

    Lemuria Land

    This is a truly beautiful plantation full of ylang-ylang trees climbing up the hillsides, with mangroves along the river. The entrance fee includes the zoo as well as a tour of the distillery.

  • Sights in Sava Region

    Volamaitso

    The affable Jean Michel Besinoa delights in showing off his 70,000-sq-metre plantation featuring cocoa, pepper, ginger, two types of turmeric and various fruits including litchis, guavas, corossol and the intriguing zevi ( spondias dulcis). Visit any time of year, but come with a guide as Jean Michel only speaks French and Malagasy. It's a pleasant 1½-hour walk soaking up his enthusiasm.

  • Sights in Hell-Ville (Andoany)

    Sacred Banyan Tree

    On the coast beyond tiny Mahatsinjo village, there's an enormous sacred banyan tree planted by the Queen of the Sakalava tribe in 1836. Nowadays, the Queen of Nosy Be makes an annual pilgrimage to sacrifice a zebu and gain benediction. Shoes must be removed before approaching the tree, and if you have bare legs, a wrap will be provided. The tree is signposted from Rte de l'Ouest just north of Hell-Ville, and is easily reached by quad- or motorbike.

  • Sights in Nosy Komba

    Lemur Park

    In this small park, the black lemurs are wild, but locals feed them bananas so that the animals will eat off your hand or jump on your shoulder for that perfect photo op. The practice is detrimental to the animals but generates substantial revenue for the village, which has helped protect the forest. So if you’d like to support the village, pay the admission fee to admire the lemurs, but decline the offer to feed them.