Information about Antsiranana Madagascar

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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 turquoise waters.

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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 earth.

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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 port.

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 lowlands.
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 different bird
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 geckos.

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.