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Antsiranana Diego Suarez Information
This large Island in the Indian Ocean 450 kilometres (300 miles)
off the coast of Southern Africa is an amazing place for a holiday.
Still untouched by mass tourism anybody who visits
this almost prehistoric feeling Island will enjoy friendliness
and hospitality from the people, be able to wander
ancient primary rainforests, observe animals, plants and
insects that are unique to the Island of Madagascar and enjoy its
lovely quiet beaches.
Madagascar island offers diverse and spectacular scenery:
mountains, deserts, rainforests, dazzling beaches fringing the Indian
Ocean and island archipelagos linked by coral reefs and clear
Ringed by golden beaches and palm trees, Madagascar island has
an interior that is resplendent in its variety, from grassy plateaus
to volcanoes and opaque forests and natural reserves. Many species
that are unique to the island have evolved, including 3,000 indigenous
species of butterfly. Madagascar is legendary for the profusion
of its wildlife and flora, 80% of which is found nowhere else on
blackjack Area telephone code Madagascar
Phone code +261
Nearest Airport -
Nearby Cities and Towns
Antsiranana is set on a small promontory jutting into a large bay that
forms one of the finest natural harbours in the Indian Ocean. Antsiranana
means ‘Where There is Salt', although it's also spelt Antseranana
(‘Where There is a Port). The town is commonly known as Diego Suarez,
or simply Diego.
In the late 19th century, the French established a naval base here, which
remained until 1973. Today Antsiranana is a provincial capital, an important
The capital of Madagascar’s northernmost province, Antsiranana
– the name means ‘port’ – has one of the world’s
most beautiful deep-water harbours. A ring of mountains surrounds the
town, which has a very diverse population of about 80,000 Sakalava, Antakarana,
French, Arabs, Chinese and Comoriens.
Since the town is the gateway to Montagne d’Ambre and Ankarana national
parks, many visitors simply pass through Antsiranana without exploring
its decaying colonial architecture (the old covered market and the former
Hotel de la Marine for seafarers are notable examples), its vibrant market
and the wealth of crafts workshops. There is a variety of hotels and restaurants
in town, and at Ramena beach, about 18 km to the east. There are baobabs
on the route between Diego and Ramena.
Almost equidistant between Ramena and Diego is the Montagne des Français.
The ascent offers superb views over the bay, and the prospect of good
birding and sightings of Sanford’s brown lemurs. The cliffs and
cave attract rock climbers.
At the rock formation known as ‘Windsor Castle’, you will
find some tsingy and a variety of drought-resistant endemic plants. From
the top, the panorama stretches from Montagne d’Ambre in the south
to the remote Cap d’Ambre, the northern tip of Madagascar.
East of Ramena is a series of deserted bays: Baie des Dunes, Baie de Sakalava,
Baie des Pigeons.
Montagne d’Ambre National Park
Amber Mountain National Park is located 35 km from Diégo in the
province of Antsiranana, 1000 km from the capital in northern Madagascar.
It is an isolated stretch of montane rainforest covering an area of 18.200
hectares and lying at altitudes between 800 and 1.475 metres. Known for
its crater lakes and waterfalls, it is one of the most beautiful and biologically
diverse areas in all of Madagascar. Deriving its name from the resin that
seeps from some of its trees (some of which reach over 40 metres high)
the Amber Mountain sits in a rainforest rising from much dryer surrounding
These lowland savannas receive only about 900mm of rain per year, while
the mountain park is drenched with an average of 3.858mm. This water runs
into the long rivers and lakes, and creates a wild beauty of nearly 18,000
hectares of connected green forests. These waterways provide for many
tree ferns, orchids, mosses and lianas.
The forests of Montagne d’Ambre National Park offer a home to 75
species, 35 of which are endemic. These include the faucon, martinet,
wild pigeon and perroquet.
There are 59 species of reptiles and 34 species of amphibians living in
the forests of Montagne d’Ambre. With a rate of 11% of endemism,
three families of snakes, a family of chameleons, three families of lizards
and two families of frogs exist nowhere else. Some species to watch for
include the panther chameleon, Madagascar tree boa, and two leaf-tailed
There are also 25 species of mammals living in Montagne d’Ambre,
including the crowned lemur, northern ring-tailed mongoose, fossa and
the brown mouse lemur.
Six families of tenrecs, the rare falanouc, and the Galidie Elégante
also live in the park.
Amber Mountain National Park is one of the most worthwhile reserves to
visit in Madagascar. It is easy to get to, it has easy trails through
beautiful hilly areas, and the footpaths are clearly marked (in English).
The trees and points of interest are labelled, and there is a very good
chance that you will see many of the above-listed species. There are also
accessible caves that you can wander through. And just beyond the park,
there is the very special Ankarana Reserve, with amazing limestone formations
and interesting vegetation surrounding the various nooks and crannies.