The Republic of Madagascar is a beautiful large Island country in the Indian Ocean off the coast of East Africa. Most people only know from the Madagascar Film and the TV series of the penguins of Madagascar. Unfortunately they don’t know that Madagascar is a Treasure Island with impressive landscapes and outstanding nature from rainforests to dry desert and from stunning beaches to mountains and stone forests. In this Northern Madagascar travel blog I create an itinerary that shows you the best places to visit in Northern Madagascar.

Apart from its nature Madagascar offers unique and endemic wildlife, which means most of Madagascar’s wildlife species (90%) can’t be found anywhere else in the world! That’s a perfect reason to travel to Madagascar at least once in your life. No wonder the isolated island of Madagascar is also called the ‘eight continent of the world’. Our 3,5-week trip to Madagascar in 2019 was a truly unique experience. We explored different parts of Madagascar from North Madagascar to West- and South.

Apart from the Northern areas I also went on a road trip. Check out my ultimate 2-week Madagascar itinerary showing you the best Madagascar tourist attraction. When traveling to Madagascar you can't miss the Avenue of the Baobabs. Click on the link for a complete guide for visiting this major tourist attraction or find out more about the things to do in Morondova here.

madagascar wildlife black lemur

Planning a trip to North Madagascar

In this Northern Madagascar travel blog I will share our 10-day itinerary including all the North Madagascar highlights, things to do, the best places to stay in Nosy Be and Diégo-Suarez and some useful Madagascar travel tips to make your Madagascar trip easier. If you are searching for the most complete North Madagascar travel guide and itinerary this travel blog is a must read. For a more detailed Nosy Be travel guide with all things to do click here.

madagascar travel blog north 2

Why visit North Madagascar

North Madagascar is an often-overlooked travel destination perfect for beach-, wildlife- and nature lovers! It has everything unique to Madagascar from endemic wildlife of Madagascar like Lemurs and chameleons to rainforest, beautiful turquoise lagoons, beaches and the iconic Baobabs. The northern part is also home to Madagascar's famous cocoa plantations and ylang-ylang tree. The northernmost region of Madagascar, the Diana Region, stretches from the capital of Antsiranana (also known as Diégo-Suarez) to Ambilobe and Ambanja, including the island Nosy Be and the highlights along the NR6-NR4 to Ankarafantsika.

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What I love about North Madagascar is the perfect combination of exploring Madagascar’s beach- and sea life (turtles, fishes, corals) with discovering the endemic flora and fauna of the country and hiking through unique nature reserves. If you only have 2 weeks or less to travel around Madagascar, then I highly recommend exploring the North because you’re able to see all the unique places to visit in Madagascar in a short amount of time.

madagascar travel blog north 4

Great reasons to visit Northern Madagascar are the paradise beaches of Nosy Be and Diégo-Suarez, the lemurs and smallest chameleons in Lokobe Reserve, the limestone massif of Ankarana National Park (Tsingy) with the presence of the crowned lemurs, the endemic Baobabs in French Mountain and the tropical rainforest of Amber Mountain. Another reason to visit North Madagascar is because it’s easy accessible by plane from other parts of the world! From for example Europe it’s easy to fly directly to Nosy Be with airlines like Air Madagascar or Ethiopian.

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How to travel around Madagascar

It’s best to visit Madagascar by car and depending on your Madagascar itinerary and number of days to spend in the country I would suggest combining your Madagascar road trip with a few domestic flights operated by their local airliner Tsaradia.

In contrast to South Madagascar, the Northern part has very bad roads; it’s even worse than the road conditions I experienced in Uganda (see my Uganda travel blog). It’s possible to do a self-drive in Madagascar but for the North I’d personally recommend hiring a car including a driver/guide.

Domestic flights in Madagascar with Tsardia

If you want to see as much from Madagascar as possible it’s best to book a few domestic flights as well. Madagascar has 11 domestic airports throughout the country, so it’s easy to fly from one place to another to tick off the best things to do in Madagascar. Flying within the country is one of my best Madagascar travel tips as it will also save you a lot of travel time, especially because of the long distances and road conditions

In July 2018 Tsaradia became a subsidiary of Air Madagascar. Unfortunately Air Madagascar doesn’t have a great reputation in terms of cancellations, delays or changing flight times. Locals call it ‘AirMad’ because it’s unreliable and therefore all hotel staff and tour operators strongly advise you to build-in plenty of time if you need to catch an onward flight. Especially for international flights it’s strongly advised to be in Antananarivo a day before your flight will leave (just in case).

That being said, in our complete 3,5-week Madagascar itinerary we had 3 domestic flights and no problems with Tsaradia in terms of delays or whatsoever. All flights with Tsaradia departed on time. Perhaps it’s a good thing that the National airline Air Madagascar decided to create a subsidiary company fully dedicated to domestic service, which hopefully means that Tsaradia – which literally means ‘a beautiful journey’ – will gain a better reputation when it keeps focussing on their core elements like punctuality and reliability.

Because were upgraded to privilege class we had the luxury of boarding last to avoid standing in line and leaving the plane first. They offer quite a good service on board and they serve light meals and drinks in privilege class. Their planes, however, were quite dated. The back of my chair was broken and not able to adjust and all two of our folding tables were completely scratched with blue pen stripes on two out of three flights. Overall we had a good experience with Tsaradia.

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Madabest Madagascar

The amazing team of Madabest guided us during our trip through North Madagascar and we had the best time! I love to sit back, relax and enjoy the views. Madabest is a well-experienced receptive agency and local tour operator with offices in Nosy Be and Diégo-Suarez who offer tours throughout the whole country. The owner of Madabest is a member of the Madagascar Tourism Board and the team is passionate, friendly and experienced with a lot of knowledge to give you the best Madagascar travel tips. They totally exceeded our expectations and it was a pleasure to spend time with them. We had some good laughs, learned about the Malagasy culture and tasted the real Malagasy food.

Best Northern Madagascar Itinerary

north madagascar itinerary map

  • Day 1-4: Nosy Be and the surrounding Islands
  • Day 5: Private Tsingy, Laka-Laka Lake and Ambatomiloloha viewpoint
  • Day 6: Ankarana Special Reserve and Red Tsingy
  • Day 7: Diégo-Suarez (Antsiranana)
  • Day 8: Joffreville (Amber Mountain)
  • Day 9: Flight from Diégo-Suarez to Antananarivo
  • Day 10: Tsarasaotra bird park and flight to Morondava

Note: because we wanted to visit as many of the best places to visit in Madagascar as possible in a short amount of time we only planned 10 days in the North. I would advise to spend more time in the North to have a little more relaxing time and enough time to discover the highlights of North Madagascar.

Nosy Be archipelago

Recommended stay: 4-5 days

nosy be travel nosy iranja

Nosy Be means ‘big island’ in Malagasy language and it’s the largest and busiest tourist attraction in Madagascar. With an average daily temperature of 25.3 degrees Celsius it’s Madagascar’s premier beach destination located off the northwest coast of Madagascar. The volcanic island also acts as the main gateway to a gorgeous archipelago with beautiful paradise islands like Nosy Komba (Lemur Island), Nosy Sakatia, Nosy Iranja (Turtle Island) and Nosy Tanikely.

Beach and diving lovers will be in paradise on Nosy Be with more than 10 small islands to explore! You will be in love with the beauty of white sandy beaches, azure blue sea, unique coral reefs and the Island’s endemic wildlife. Nosy Be also has beautiful crater lakes. A great Madagascar travel tip is to visit Mont Passot – the second highest volcanic peak on Nosy Be – for a 360° panoramic view over the Mozambique Channel and some crater lakes.

nosy be travel mont passot

Since Nosy Be has its own airport it’s easy to travel to Nosy Be. Nosy Be Airport – also known as Fascene Airport – is the second largest (international) airport in Madagascar, located only 20 minutes from the city centre. However the number of visitors on Nosy Be is growing fast, it’s not yet discovered by mass tourism. Maybe it’s only a matter of time since Airlines such as Ethiopian, Air Madagascar and Air Austral offer more (direct) flights to Nosy Be from for example Europe.

Go visit Madagascar now it is still an off the beaten path destination and make sure you include Nosy Be in your itinerary! In this link you will read everything you need to know when you travel to Nosy Be Madagascar.

The Island of Nosy Be is also called ‘Perfume Island’ because of all the intense scents present over the island like cinnamon, vanilla, sugar cane and frangipani, but especially the flowers of the ylang-ylang that are used to produce essential oil. You will smell and discover a lot of these plantations on Nosy Be.

nosy be travel ylang ylang

Nosy Be has a lot to offer for all kinds of tourists. Trips to the islands of the beautiful Nosy Be archipelago and Lokobe Strict Reserve (which is known for the black lemur and the smallest chameleon) are definitely among the top things to do in Nosy Be, Madagascar. Every island has a unique reason to visit. For example: Nosy Iranja for its iconic white sandbank and turquoise water.

nosy be travel lemur island

nosy be travel turtle island

Where to stay in Nosy Be?

Home Madagascar the Residence is a magnificent, luxury place to relax and unwind and my favourite place to stay in Madagascar. This residence offers stylish and spacious villas and apartments with private swimming pools on a well-maintained property. We were given a huge two-floor villa with everything you can possibly wish for from Wi-Fi and a huge flat-screen TV in a beautifully decorated living room to a private swimming pool including a lounge area right at the beach!

nosy be hotel at the beach

nosy be hotel sea view swimming pool

Home Madagascar the Residence has its private (800m long) beach at Befotaka Bay where you can watch a beautiful sunset with silhouettes of palm trees in front of the setting sun. To complete your relaxing stay, I would highly recommend visiting their Banyan Nosy-be Spa, where you will enjoy relaxing massages with essential oils of Madagascar. I also loved the staff; they were friendly all the time and there was even a present waiting in our villa: a tower of Madagascar’s spices.

nosy be sunset

nosy be hotel spa wellness

I could easily spend a week in Home Madagascar the Residence. It was very peaceful right at the beach and I loved their breakfast and diner in their Tropikaly Beach Restaurant with delicious chef’s specialties, fresh seafood, Malagasy Zebu steak and great Italian pastas. The restaurant area is located at the beach including an infinity swimming pool. If you’re looking for a relaxing holiday on Nosy Be, you should definitely check this place and their rates! Keep in mind that this place is a 35-minute drive to Ambatoloaka Bay (from where most Island daytrips start).

I am sure by seeing these photos you feel like a holiday. This amazing place surely is among my top Madagascar travel tips and Im sure you will love it just as much as I did.

nosy be restaurant tropikally beach

Private Tsingy, Laka-Laka Lake and Ambatomiloloha viewpoint

Recommended stay: 2 days

madagascar trip tsingy 1

The tsingy is located on Madagascar’s mainland. To get to the mainland you have to take the boat or ferry from Hell-Ville (Nosy Be) to the port of Ankify. The speedboat shuttle to the mainland takes 40 minutes and costs Ar. 12.000 (about €3). I recommend taking the speedboat as early as possible. In the morning it’s more crowded but the crossing will be smoother because the boats leave as soon as they are full. In the morning you’ll never have to wait long for the boat to depart.

If you’re traveling with a vehicle you need to take the ferry. The ferry is much slower and will take around two hours. A ticket for the ferry cost Ar. 80000 (€20). We took the speedboat and our driver took the ferry (with the vehicle). Therefore we had to wait in Ankify harbour for another hour, but we had a local Malagasy breakfast in de port while waiting and it was nice to observe the lively Ankify harbour. Another reason to visit Northern Madagascar with a guide/driver.

madagascar travel guide rice fields

On the way to the tsingy you will enjoy the beautiful scenery through cacao, coffee and ylang-ylang plantations and mangrove landscapes. If you have enough time, make a quick stop at a place called Chez Cyril to learn more about the cacao process and treatment before transforming it into the chocolate we know as ‘chocolate’. Lots of Malagasy people don’t like the chocolate how we eat it but they eat the fruits. Chez Cyril also harvests pepper and other spices like curcuma, ginger, cinnamon and guava. After Chez Cyril you will drive through rice fields and a drought forest of traveller trees for about two hours to reach Ambilobe town and Iharana Bush Camp (IBC).

madagascar trip tsingy 2

The reason we planned to overnight in this natural bush camp is because of IBC’s private ‘tsingy’ and its panoramic view of Ambatomiloloha. The tsingy is a pointed limestone rock formation and the most famous ones are the Tsingy de Bemaraha and the Tsingy de Ankarana. But Iharana Bush Camp has its own private tsingy that is even unknown by some Malagasy people. So a valuable Madagascar travel tip is to visit this tsingy as well. You will not regret it! In Malagasy, the word Tsingy means ‘walking on tip toes’ or ‘the place where one cannot walk barefoot.’

madagascar trip tsingy 3

madagascar trip tsingy 4

For Iharana’s guests there are several activities like hikes, rock climbing and canoe trips to discover the beauty of the site and the tsingy. You won't read this in any other Madagascar travel guide but there’s a private path with small steep ladders, bridges and guardrails leading to caves and several viewpoints. The starting point is the camp itself with the choice to depart on foot or by boat.

First we did a two-hour hike through the tsingy including Ambatomiloloha’s 360 degrees panoramic lookout over the tsingy and we ended up enjoying the sunset from a pirogue on Laka-Laka Lake.

madagascar trip laka laka lake sunset

madagascar trip laka laka lake canoe

Their latest activity is a zip-line adventure over the tsingy, another Madagascar travel tip for the adventurous traveller. Don’t forget your camera, because on your way you will also see lemurs, birds, butterflies and various colourful floras. Wear a light pants or shorts, walking shoes, a hat/cap and bring some sunscreen and enough water.

madagascar trip tsingy sunset

Where to stay for visiting the Tsingy?

Iharana Bush Camp is an outstanding natural site just outside of Ankarana Reserve with a natural swimming pool and a great Madagascar travel tip for those ones who love to visit a remote destination in the middle of nature. This environment is extraordinary! You will sleep in a natural cottage open to nature inspired by traditional Malagasy housing, which makes this Bush camp totally harmonious with its environment.

madagascar hotel iharana bush camp 1

The cabanas use ecological energy, so you have hot water and light through solar panels. Charging your devices is only possible in an office, which is created for that purpose. From your private balcony or from the restaurant area you have truly amazing views over the lake at the foot of the Tsingy massif! We stayed here for only 1 night, but I would suggest staying at least 2 nights to discover more of the Tsingy. From Iharana Bush Camp you can also visit the Tsingy in Ankarana Special Reserve, which is about 1,5 hours drive to the Mahamasina gate of Ankarana National Park.

madagascar hotel iharana bush camp 2

If you travel to Madagascar expect an amazing adventure s keep in mind that it’s possible to find some bugs or snakes in your cottage, because you’re in the middle of nature. We found a snake in our bathroom. It doesn’t happen often that snakes are found in the open cottages, but it’s possible. The staff removed the snake very quickly and brought it back to the bushes.

Ankarana Special Reserve

Recommended stay: 1 day

Ankarana National Park is one of Madagascar’s most visited parks and a rewarding hiking destination, known for the limestone Ankarana tsingy with Africa’s biggest underground network of rivers and caves of which some contain cave-crocodiles. The park offers awesome trails, amazing landscapes and a lot of animals, so make sure to include it in your Madagascar itinerary.

madagascar travel ankarana tsingy

Ankarana Reserve contains one of the highest densities of primates of any forest in the world and it hosts one of the largest and least disturbed populations of the crowned lemurs. Besides that you can find several other species of lemurs like the Sanford’s brown lemur, Perrier’s black lemur and the northern sportive lemur. You can also find many bird species, chameleons and leaf-tailed Uroplatus gecko in this reserve.

madagascar wildlife sahafary sportive lemur

There are three entry points to Ankarana Special Reserve. The most accessible gate is in Mahamasina along the RN6 road. The entrance to the west is near Amboandriky and the entrance on the North side - in Matsaborimanga - is mostly only accessible during the dry season. The best time to visit the grey tsingy of Ankarana is during the dry seasons from April to November. Be prepared for high temperatures with a fierce sun while hiking through the plateau, which is composed of 150-million-year-old Middle Jurassic limestone. To visit Ankarana Special Reserve you need a guide and you’ll have to bring enough water and some food.

madagascar travel ankarana tsingy hanging bridge

madagascar animals leaf tailed uroplatus gecko

Because we had to visit the Red Tsingy on the same day, we opted for a short circuit of 7 km including a walk through the forest to see lemurs, a hike to the famous hanging bridge of Ankarana and to some beautiful viewpoints. My advise to you would be to not visit these highlights of Madagascar on the same day! To discover the whole reserve, including the caves, underground rivers and canyons you need to spend a whole day inside the reserve. And even with only a short circuit it’s too much of a hurry to visit both tsingies on the same day.

madagascar wildlife crowned lemur female

madagascar wildlife crowned lemur male

Where to stay for visiting Ankarana Special Reserve

I would recommend staying here for at least one extra night on top of the 2 nights in Iharana Bush Camp. You can choose to stay in Iharana Bush Camp or somewhere near the entrance of Ankarana Reserve in Mahamasina. Madabest recently opened their first accommodation for guests near the entrance of Ankarana: Ankarana Relax-Inn.

Red Tsingy

Recommended stay: stop on the way from Ankarana Special Reserve to Diégo-Suarez or vice versa.

madagascar trip red tsingy

A trip to Tsingy Rouge is about 100km from Ankarana Special Reserve and situated about 60km south of Antsiranana near the town of Sadjoavato. The first part of the drive is fine, but the last 10km are very bumpy and unpaved. It’s only accessible by a 4WD car or motorbike and totally inaccessible during the rainy season in Madagascar. Keep this in mind when planning your trip to Madagascar. The Red Tsingy or Tsingy Rouge is a sand stone formation of red laterite formed by erosion of the Irodo River that rises as a big collection of stalagmites above the red clay. Because of the high amount of iron and aluminium in the ground, the Tsingy turned out red. Especially the iron oxide gives the soil this extreme red colour.

madagascar travel tips tsingy rouge

madagascar trip tsingy rouge

The Tsingy Rouge was very unique and interesting, though very different and small comparing to the scale of the limestone Tsingy in Ankarana. There are various viewpoints to see the formations up close. To get there you always have to walk down a fairly steep path. It is quite tough climbing back up in the heat but well worth the effort. Apparently in the past it was possible to touch the tsingy and take photos in the middle of the stalagmites, but luckily that’s not allowed anymore. The Red Tsingy is very fragile and even a smooth touch will damage the tsingy. That is why the formations are fenced nowadays.

Because the sun was already setting we didn’t have enough time to visit all the beautiful viewpoints. We were only there for about 40 minutes. After this visit, we still had a 2,5-hour drive to Diégo-Suarez.

Diégo-Suarez (Antsiranana)

Recommended stay: 4 days

madagascar travel diego suarez sugar loaf

When you decide to travel to Northern Madagascar, you need to travel to Diégo-Suarez. It’s located at the windy northernmost tip of Northern Madagascar, on an inlet of the Indian Ocean. This place offers very nice pristine beaches and perfect bays for water sport activities. The actual name of this town is Antsiranana, but it’s better known under its old French name Diégo-Suarez. There’s no best time to visit Diégo-Suarez. Because of the pleasant climate you can visit all the year round. For water sport activities it’s probably best to visit during the Windy Season from April 15 to November 15. The Low Wind Season is from November 15 to April 15.

madagascar travel guide diego suarez 1

Although it’s a beautiful beach destination to stay for at least one week, we stayed here for quite a short time. We wish we had more time in our Madagascar itinerary. Therefore we couldn’t visit all the beautiful places Diégo-Suarez has to offer. A lot of people stay in Diégo-Suarez for 1 or 2 weeks and plan different day trips to Tsingy Rouge, Amber Mountain, Emerald Sea and even Ankarana National Park. Apart from these day trips, this area offers many opportunities for trekking, climbing, swimming, snorkelling, diving, kite surfing, fishing and so on. Diégo-Suarez is a best-kept secret when it comes to worthwhile tourist attractions in Madagascar. I will point out a few highlights to visit in Diégo-Suarez.

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Three bays

The three bays is a series of beautiful turquoise bays with long white beaches and splendid landscapes. A sandy road and a footpath along the shore connect these three bays, which consists of Sakalava Bay, Pigeon Bay and Dune Bay. The sandy footpath makes it possible to walk from one bay to another to enjoy the scenery or relax at the beaches and have a swim in the turquoise water, one of the most relaxed things to do in Madagascar.

madagascar trip three bays sakalava bay

You don’t need a guide for that. If you don’t feel like walking you can also reach the bays by 4WD car. Visiting the Three Bays seems to become a popular trip in Diégo-Suarez, but we only saw two other tourists, so we had the beaches to ourselves. We started the loop from the southernmost of the Three Bays in Sakalava Bay and ended in Ramena village, a small charming fisherman village.

Sakalava Bay is the largest of the three bays and an ideal for water sports. Near Sakalava Bay you can also visit the great 400+ years old Baobab of Sakalava.

madagascar trip three bays sakalava baobab

From Dune Bay we walked through the water to the beautiful isolated Pigeon Bay, where you’ll find high dunes with wonderful views over the bays and the Indian Ocean.

madagascar trip three bays dunes bay

madagascar trip three bays pigeons bay

Near the bays you can find military installations like canons, bunkers and ruins dating back from WWII. Before we reached the bunkers and the Cap Miné lighthouse we made a quick stop at a hidden endemic Baobab, which you cannot see from the road. You have to walk through a small bush to get there. A great secret spot in Diégo-Suarez from where you have nice views of the Three Bays. Definitely a must do when visiting Madagascar and you’re a lover of Baobabs, like me.

Madagascar tribes

madagascar trip three bays secret baobab

To continue to Ramena you need to pass through the military zone and pay an admission fee (Ar5000 per person and Ar2000 for a vehicle). Some people access the bays through Sakalava and drive the same way back to avoid this fee. Because we wanted to make the whole loop to watch the sunset at Ramena Beach and visit the port of Ramena village, we passed through the military zone.

Ramena is one of the most popular spots to visit in Diégo-Suarez. You can enjoy delicious seafood in one of the small restaurants on the beach and it’s also the starting point for a day trip to Emerald Sea. Emerald Sea is a gorgeous lagoon and after Rio de Janeiro the second largest natural bay in the world. It’s a 50-minute boat ride from Ramena. We didn’t visit this lagoon during our Madagascar trip, but I would definitely recommend squeezing a trip to Emerald Sea into your Madagascar itinerary.

diego suarez madagascar travel tips ramena beach

diego suarez madagascar travel tips ramena village

Diégo-Suarez City

Apart from the stunning bays, we also explored the city centre of Diégo-Suarez. The road to the heart of the city offers beautiful views of the fabulous Sugar Loaf (Sugar mountain) and the endemic Baobabs on the foot of French Mountain. The city itself has wide streets with old colonial-era buildings and local markets. We had diner in a local Malagasy restaurant (Relax-inn) to taste original Malagasy dishes, something you should do when you travel to Madagascar.

diego suarez madagascar travel tips french mountain

diego suarez madagascar travel tips market

Where to stay in Diégo-Suarez

Mantasaly resort is a luxury 4-star resort with a beautiful property and a private bay at the Indian Ocean. It’s a 45-minute drive from Diégo-Suarez Airport and they offer 3 types of accommodation, all very spacious and comfortable, some with sea view. This resort offers everything you need for a relaxing holiday in Madagascar: a nice large swimming pool, bar, wellness, outdoor gym, a playground, private beach and good food with a daily changing menu and decent service.

diego suarez hotel mantasaly resort 1

diego suarez hotel mantasaly resort 2

On top of that, they have their own kite centre and kite storage. Mantasaly resort is probably the best kite spot in this area where lots of people stay for 1 or 2 weeks to just enjoy the beach and practice all kinds of water sport activities like kite surfing and kayaking but also snorkelling and spearfishing. The less sporty traveler will like this place too! It’s a very relaxing property at the beach with a great viewpoint and laid-back vibe from where you can plan several day trips around Diégo-Suarez.

diego suarez hotel mantasaly resort 3

Joffreville - Amber Mountain

Recommended stay: 1 day

Amber Mountain National Park (Montagne d'Ambre) is the oldest park in Madagascar and situated near Joffreville, around 40 kilometres south of Diégo-Suarez. Although the temperature in Diégo-Suarez can be hot and dry, Amber Mountain is always cool and fresh with mist hanging over the trees. Because of the bad road conditions it’s quite a challenge to get there.

Some people say the park is a bit overrated. I personally can’t judge that since I had to skip Amber Mountain Reserve because of some health issues. Apparently people expect to see a lot of wildlife in this reserve and are disappointed afterwards when they didn’t see lots of lemurs or other typical wildlife of Madagascar. So maybe just go there without expectations. Wild animals cannot be directed and besides the animals it’s a unique environment with different hiking circuits. Depending on the length of the hikes you will come across a crater lake, a few baobabs and a couple of waterfalls.

diego suarez madagascar travel tips sugar loaf

Where to stay in Joffreville?

An ideal base to stay and explore the surrounding of Amber Mountain Reserve is Nature Lodge. This accommodation provides spacious bungalows with a small private deck that will give you spectacular views over the bays and the mountains.

Note: Since we had to re-schedule our plan because of some health issues we stayed in Diégo-Suarez in the beautiful Meva Plage Hotel with a private beach and a beautiful view of the Sugar Loaf of Madagascar.

diego suarez hotel meva plage 1

Sometimes it’s not a huge property that makes the difference but the charm of a small hotel. That’s exactly why we love the family-owned hotel Meva Plage, located near Ramena. Their hospitality and service is amazing. The rooms provide air-conditioning and the restaurant serves delicious meals, all reasonably priced. We had a wonderful stay! They also offer a pool and a children’s playground.

diego suarez hotel meva plage 2

Always be aware of Madagascar’s wildlife. When we were heading to the airport of Diégo-Suarez, to fly to Antananarivo with Tsaradia, we were lucky to spot another huge chameleon walking on the middle of the road.

madagascar wildlife panther chameleon 1

madagascar wildlife panther chameleon 2


Recommended stay: 1 day

Antananarivo (in short Tana) is the largest city in the country and interesting for the curious traveller who has enough time. The capital city of Madagascar is rich in colours and history, but not exactly one of the best places to visit in Madagascar. That’s one of the reasons why it’s called ‘The City of the Thousands’. There are plenty of things to do like visiting the sacred place ‘The Rova’, the original capital Ambohimanga and the Albert Camus Cultural Center. 

Madagascar transportation

Don’t expect to see turquoise lagoons, baobab trees and humid forests populated by lemurs. You’ll find none of these things in or around Tana. Since we planned to fly from Diégo-Suarez to Morondava to explore for example Baobab Avenue, we stayed in Tana for only one night to bridge our time between the flights.

antananarivo trip tsarasaotra bird park

We only visited the Tsarasaotra bird park for 1,5 hour, which is located only 5-10 minutes from the airport. This park is privately owned and it’s a sanctuary for many bird species like the Madagascar Pond Heron, the critically endangered Meller’s Duck, the Madagascan Grebe and the Madagascar Kingfisher. This park is also full of spider webs. It’s a small park where you can easily walk around the two lakes while photographing the birds. It was a nice park for a short visit but to be honest I’d expected more of this park after the reviews I’ve read on the Internet. Not exactly one of the top things to do in Madagascar!

antananarivo travel tsarasaotra bird park

madagascar animals spider

Where to stay in Antananarivo?

Susie’s place is a friendly family run bed and breakfast, close to Ivato Airport (15 minute drive). They offer transfers from and to the airport for a reasonable price. Susie’s place is not just a place; it’s actually a beautiful huge villa with various spacious and comfortable rooms with private bathroom. Although the house is a bit noisy because of its acoustics, it’s a perfect accommodation to stay to bridge your time between the flights.

madagascar bed and breakfast susies place 1

They have a peaceful and nicely decorated garden where you can enjoy your breakfast, including fresh eggs! Susie’s place doesn’t serve dinner. For dinner I recommend Au Bois Vert restaurant, which is on walking distance.

madagascar bed and breakfast susies place 2

North Madagascar travel blog: Veloma!

Time to say Veloma, which means goodbye in Malagasy! We had an amazing time in Northern Madagascar, hosted by Madabest. From the warm Malagasy welcome at the airport in Nosy Be to the last day in Diégo-Suarez, they made us feel home away from home! If you want to explore Northern Madagascar I would highly recommend contacting Madabest. They’re able to customize your trip to your wishes and needs and apart from that it’s also possible to only rent a car to do a self-drive.

Do you have more time to visit Madagascar then check out this ultimate 2-week Madagascar itinerary, which includes multiple National Parks and other amazing things to do in Madagascar, including camping in a nature reserve.

This amazing North Madagascar travel blog is written by travel photographer Kim Paffen, one of Traveltomtom’s talented team members with a deep-seated passion for traveling to Africa. She traveled for Traveltomtom to Madagascar and shared all her tips and incredible photos in this Northern Madagascar travel guide. Check out her Instagram account: ourplanetinmylens.

She also wrote about the best things to do in Nosy Be Madagascar, a Morondava travel guide or click on the following link for the gateway to the famous Madagascar Baobabs, to know everything before you go. 

I hope that this travel blog and all the above Northern Madagascar travel tips were helpful for you to plan your own Madagascar trip. Feel free to help me in return by sharing the link of this article somewhere on the Internet. Every tweet on Twitter, pin on Pinterest or share on Facebook is very much appreciated. Also don’t hesitate to reach out on Instagram I’m happy to help!