From the Amber Mountain to the French's one, from the Red Tsingy to Ramena, from the Three Bays to the Emerald Sea, to the charm of Diego and its bay : so many landscapes and sites still different from what you can see in the rest of the country.
A colorful and well shaken cocktail, for both contemplatives and sportfans.
Diego – or Antsiranana – is the only big city I’ve really enjoyed. Apart from its bay, which is ranked among the most beautiful in the world, the old colonial charm of its buildings, its yellow 4L taxis and the colors of its buildings, have an appeal that isn't spoiled by a climate of insecurity and misery like in Tana. Stroll through its streets to admire the architecture of its buildings,
Discover by chance a craft shop,
shopping at the market,
Buy Robert chocolate, based on Sambirano's cacao, a Malagasy region producing rare and aromatic beans that are highly sought after by the world’s great chocolate makers.
Just like London with its retro-looking black taxis, the city of Diego has chosen 4L and 2CV (old french cars) , in yellow version.
Easily recognizable, they share the market with the tuk tuk, also yellow.
Our hotel. To visit the different sites near the city, we chose a hotel by the sea in the small village of Ramena (to the east), the closest to the Emerald Sea and the Three Bays. On the other hand, in order to visit the city and quickly reach the airport on the last day we chose the Hotel Concorde in Diego. Located in the city center, close to the market (on foot), very good breakfast. Perfect to control your budget
Budget. 14€ for the night with 2 breakfasts (we arrived there early in the morning).
Diego Bay and French Mountain
The French Mountain offers the best view of the beautiful bay of Diego.
A little air of Rio de Janeiro, with even its own sugar bread, Nosy Lonjo.
Amber Mountain National Park
A tropical forest very far from the aridity and dry branches of other parks.
Both the vegetation (ferns, traveler's trees, choking vines, orchids) and the names of the places (sacred waterfalls, “ Way of a Thousand Trees ”), and the intertwined roots on its paths, give it the magic of a fairy tale.
The intertwined branches and roots contribute to the dreamlike decor of the place.
A place to reconnect with nature, among the endemic and emblematic species of the country : 7 varieties of lemurs, including the micro-lemur, the smallest lemur in the world, and the Brookesia micra, the smallest chameleon in the world.
There’s an animal hidden in that picture.
Will you find it ?!
Distance from Diego : 40 km
Budget. 23€/pers for entry and guidance for a few hours in the park. But it's possible to stay several days. With more time, I will have chosen this option, because the forest is very pleasant and enchanting.
The red Tsingy
I think I will always remember this landscape of flaming canyons…
And of unreal, almost alien shapes.
Of this ochre verticality,…
…mixing the red and yellow of the earth.
The Red Tsingy (or Irodo Tsingy) actually includes two sites :
a first canyon of 1 km (the Sakasaka), then a landscape of needles eroded by rain and wind, called chimneys of fairies.
TOUCH ONLY WITH EYES ! Tsingy are very brittle and therefore fragile.
Budget. I advise you to rent a jeep with a driver for the day and to visit the Amber Mountain then the Red tsingy (for the afternoon light) in the same day. Hotels offer these services, but will be more expensive than a driver in town. Feel free to ask to a taxi in town in advance if they know anyone, negotiate with them, and then compare.
Distance from Diego Suarez : 63 km including 18 of a long chaotic track requiring a jeep.
The fishing village, with direct access to the Three Bays and the Emerald Sea, jewels of the province.
Distance from Diego Suarez : 30 min by taxi
Our hotel. Lakana lodge. By the sea, comfortable bungalows, a garden with a small colony of lemurs hungry for cashews and bread. Delicious cuisine (try the fondue if you are more than 2). Even the jaded and unpleasant waitress hasn't managed to spoil the experience !
It was hard for me to choose between a hotel in Ramena or directly in the bay. What was the best choice to enjoy the Emerald Sea ? The hotels closest to the bay are specialized in Kite surfing, whose site is of first choice, and are more expensive. A hotel in Ramena is finally a better choice to be able to access the other sites of the province, unless you want to enjoy the Emerald Sea over several days (or take Kite surfing courses).
Budget. 46€/pers for 3 nights + 22€ for meals (breakfasts and dinners)
Malagasy fondue : fish, meat and fries
Emerald Bay and its coral waters
Having already planned to go to the island of Nosy Iranja to enjoy its clear waters, I hesitated to plan also the Emerald Sea, a shallow lagoon to which the sand confers a turquoise color of postcard. I still shudder at the thought of having missed so much unreal beauty...for 3€ a day!
Deserted islets preserved from mass tourism, an infinite blue that hurts the eyes, … A well-kept secret, accessible by boat of fishermen.
For more photos and to discover the story of a day on Emerald Bay, go here.
Budget. 3 € instead of 17, because we shared with a family of 4 people.
Hotel Lakana tour rates.
The Tree Bays
The coastline of the province. Succession of coves and beaches to discover during a hike (be careful it can be very hot and few saving shade) or in jeep. However in the latter case you will not see everything.
The deserted beaches you are going to see if you choose the walking circuit :
The panorama is awesome.
The kitesurfers' sails break the air in the bay. The site is a well known spot. Some hotels offer courses.
The women on the beach will offer you souvenirs, local Ylang Ylang oil, or a massage.
A little luxury that costs nothing.
Ylang Ylang oil massage by the pool after the breathtaking walk of the day.
Budget.17€/person excursion with meals (not great sandwiches) included.