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Madagascar – Cruising Madagascar

Madagascar is a remote and reserved island, and although it is the fourth largest island in the world, it remains, in the most part, untouched. 

Captain’s log by Captain Anthony Daebritz – S/Y Georgia

The latitudes of Madagascar are from 12 degrees south to 25.5 degrees south.
S/Y Georgia can make 200 – 250 miles per day on average. We avoided some of the distances by making night passages to arrive at a further location for sunrise. Note also that we travelled in the month of May which is in the dry season, avoiding subtropical rain and cyclones.

Diving is one of the main attractions of Madagascar, and it rates with some of the best in the world. Windsurfing, surfing and snorkelling are also world class in Madagascar.
A good arrival point for guests to embark is Morondava on the west coast.
Guests arrive and spend the afternoon exploring the fascinating surrounds, known for erotically sculpted tombs that the Menage people built for their ancestors.

We departed Morondova to arrive at Kirindy at daybreak – 45 miles (4.5 hours) later.
The reserve at Kirindy is “apparently” the place to see Fosa (Madagascar’s largest carnivore) as well as the striped mongoose and giant jumping rats. Having a guide is compulsory for this area and can be organised in Morondova before arrival.
We departed at 2200 hours – northbound – for a 24 hour run.

From this point there are not many towns of interest due to their isolation and difficulty to approach by road. The town of Maintirano – 120 miles – (12hours), although very isolated, is worth a look. But it may be wiser to head straight for the northwest point of Saint Andre (250 miles – 25 hours). The diving in this area although largely uncharted is amazing. The River Sambao, some 30 miles to the south of Saint Andre, could be interesting to explore with your tenders, and take a morning dive near Cap St Andre, and enjoy water sports & dingy sailing there.

To get from Point St Andre to the Islands surrounding Nosy Be is 250 miles (25 hours) and this could be broken by an overnight passage.
Next Stop for Georgia was Nosy Lava – 180 miles (18 hours) away.
Arriving in Nosy Iranja (Turtle Island), enjoy the crystal clear water with its adjoining sand spit, which is a mating and resting area for large sea turtles.
Then off to Nosy Be – 40 miles – (4 hours).

Spend the day diving one of many excellent sites, and for dinner there are good, simple restaurants available on the southwest area of the island.
The mid west of Madagascar is largely unexplored and that wild coast and those primitive towns offer adventure to all.

The islands surrounding Nosy Be are a lot more charter yacht friendly and it may be an idea to start your adventure onboard from Mahajamba on the northwest coast. This option would give guests a lot more time to do water sports and less travel time. It depends if they wish to explore a smaller area well, or a large area briefly.

TOLIARA
Most spectacular TOMBS of this area are those of the MASIKORO, a sub division of the Sakalava.
Motor Bikes and quad bikes can be arranged from here. It could be an idea to do an overland to the north through Ifaty and Morombe.
The Onilahy river runs east from Toliara and could be explored to the 7 Lakes area. Word has it that the river is wide and deep in most parts.
Ifanato “7” lakes can be explored from here. This region also has two large caves of around 80–m diameter and the descent can go almost 90–m.
IMPORTANT – permission from the village chief must be gained prior to exploring the area.

MOROMBE
Apparently this town was deserted by the French in the early 21st century and never came back as a tourist spot. Very little about this town is mentioned except its locals are friendly and the fishing village always has fresh product. It may be worth a trip for the experience of visiting such an isolated town.

MORONDOVA
Cyclone Galifo battered Morondova in 2004. Damage was widespead but the town has since picked up the pieces.
This friendly coastal town with clear water is the gateway to the southern region.
Home to the famous deciduous forest, Belu su Mer and the Tsingy Bemaraha National Park.

There are charter flights from here that can take you to Grande Tsingy where the pilot will then take you over the best areas with amazing views.
The area’s name literally translates to “where one must not dive” – crocodiles live here…BEWARE.

BAREN ISLANDS
As the name states these islands are very much that – barren. The diving and clear water in this area is reputed to be wonderful, so it’s a good stop for water sports and activities.

MAHAJANGA
A large, hot but breezy town, with a large Indian population. There is an impressive fort 20–km south of Mahajanga. The historic fort was built by King Radama in 1824.
The town of Katsepy across the bay from Mahajanga is worth a visit for one particular reason. Madame Chabaud herself commutes from France to Madagascar and has passed on her culinary skills to her daughter Christine. The restaurant Chez Chabaud is well worth a visit.

NORTH
The islands north and south of Nosy Be are well frequented by tourists and the locals have therefore tried to cash in, blame them or not.
The diving in this area and number of good anchorages make it a safe haven for a yacht.

The best restaurants on the west coast are in the south of Nosy Be. Madagascar has had a lot of culinary influences, and this is reflected in the cuisine. Various cultures, including African, Arab, European and Indonesian peoples, have all contributed to the creation of unique and interesting cuisine. Seafood, as well as fruit and spices from the various plantations on Nosy Bé, are all reflected in the local dishes. Dried fish, white, green and black peppers and tropical fruits are all featured in some of the local specialities!