Parc National De Lisalo

F,S> fs7ha'na,a V a Trrm Andakatorano ) Bekoaky Plateau 9' no Plateau j- j Canyon des SingesJjESjt lnohira ( Canyon des Makis)y U anam ao Korobe Plateau ( i ' CjS Tj- j . Cascade des Nymphes T Marofangady X sL .L Piscine Y*Q8 . i Naturelle -R nQhH S Bereketa r tJ j . 6 jj o (80km) Andakatorano ) Bekoaky Plateau 9' no Plateau j- ko ilsl sl s iOt m> kakaraka Toliara CkkOkmi resembles a miniature, almost spherical baobab tree, and is often called 'elephant's foot'. Unfortunately, fires are an...

Economy

Both Madagascar and Comoros rank on the UN's register of the world's 50 poorest countries. Madagascar's economy is mainly subsistence agriculture, with rice, cassava, bananas and beans as some of the main food crops. The principal cash crops are coffee, vanilla, sugarcane, cloves and cocoa, with coffee, vanilla and sugar earning a substantial percentage of foreign exchange. There is a small amount of manufacturing, largely restricted to agricultural products and textiles, with some oil refining...

Nosy Mitsio

Divers, listen up this one's for you. Nosy Mitsio is a small and beautiful archipelago about 55km northeast of Nosy Be where the main attraction is its excellent and still relatively virgin dive sites. Nosy Mitsio is also home to picture perfect-beaches - you know, the white-sand, bathtub-warm translucent turquoise sea and no-people variety. Best of all, Nosy Mitsio offers one more hour of sunlight per day than mainland Madagascar To get here you cross a time zone Nosy Mitsio is one hour ahead,...

Getting There Around

Patience is the key to getting around Grande Comore particularly along the east coast. It can take hours for buses to show up, if they do, and breakdowns are frequent. Boats can be absolute death-traps, with no safety regulations enforced (if any even exist) and no life jackets. They are rickety affairs that look like their weathered wood has been patched up one too many times. Seas in the Comoros can get very rough, and boats between the three islands will not travel if the water is too rough....

Fort Dauphin Taolagnaro

Fort Dauphin (its rarely used Malagasy name is Taolagnaro) was just starting to become a popular stop on the tourist trail then a group of rich foreign companies decided to extract titanium from the soil outside town, and ruined it all. Sure, Fort Dauphin had always been remote and windy and often looked as if it had been hit by a grenade (or more likely a cyclone), with craters in the streets, decaying buildings and too much flying dust. But the city also was blessed with good surfing and a...

Iconi

Arrr Grande Comore's oldest settlement and original capital, Iconi, is rich in pirate lore. At one time the seat of the Sultan of Bambao, Iconi suffered badly at the hands of Malagasy pirates between the 16th and early 19th centuries. In 1805 a particularly determined wave of pirates sent many of the inhabitants of Iconi fleeing the town. When the invaders killed their leader, the women of Iconi threw themselves off the cliffs into the sea rather than face capture. In March 1978, a second...

Sleeping Eating

Hotel Les Orchid es ( 56 832 05 s d tr with shared bathroom Ar12,000 15,000 20,000) Housed in a wooden building right in the centre of the village, this well-signposted guesthouse has basic wooden rooms with mosquito nets. Good-value Malagasy meals (mains Ar2000 to Ar4100) are available at the restaurant, a few doors down. Hotel Buffet de la Gare (s 56 832 08 r Ar23,600-35,400, bungalows Ar35,400-64,900) Not just for train-spotters - this Andasibe institution is housed in the declining but...

Celebrations Customs

A Malagasy proverb says 'the food which is prepared has no master'. In other words, celebrating in Madagascar or the Comoros means eating big. Weddings, funerals, circumcisions and reburials are preceded by days of For recipes and presentation tips checkout www .sas.upenn.edu African_ Studies Cookbook Madagascar.html. Do bring a present (a small amount of money or a bottle of rum) if you're invited to a Malagasy celebration. Women should wear modest clothes. Do check before eating pork in rural...

Animals

Madagascar's wildlife Madagascar's best-known mammals are the lemurs, of which there are is so little known that about 70 living species and subspecies. A further 16 - mosdy giant - species as recently as 1986 a are known from subfossil deposits the tragedy is that these remains point to new species of lemur a unique lemur megafauna that died out perhaps only a few hundred years was discovered, the ago. Among those wiped out were gorilla-sized, indri-like species as well as golden bamboo lemur,...

Yellow Fever

Yellow fever is not a problem in Madagascar or the Comoros, but travellers should still carry a certificate as evidence of vaccination if they've recently been in an infected country, to avoid any possible difficulties with immigration. For a full list of these countries visit the websites of the World Health Organization (www.who.int wer ) or the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (www.cdc.gov travel blusheet.htm). A traveller without a legally required, up-to-date certificate may be...

EATING

Chez Bruno ( g 53 333 78 Blvd de la Lib ration snacks from Ar500 S breakfast & lunch) A handy patisserie caf near H tel Les Flamboyants, known for its above-average coffee. Adam & Eve Snack Bar ( g 53 334 56 Blvd Joffre mains from Ar2000 S breakfast, lunch & dinner Tue-Sun) One of the most popular budget options on Blvd Joffre, the open bar and terrace of this cheap-eats Eden have a loyal following for their Malagasy dishes, juice, ice cream and cr pes. La V randa ( 53 334 35 off Blvd...

Mbeni

M'beni is home to Grande Comore's only official ecotourism attraction - an essential oils distillery and experimental farm known as Comores Vanille et Plantes ( 77 02 34 www.comores-onl ne .com cvp ecomusee.htm In French admission free). There's a shop selling spices, essential oils, jam, honey and local crafts a distillery and vanilla treatment plant an interesting collection of local plants and herbs and even a pen full of ostriches Most of this is designed to find new ways of improving...

Pare National de Ilsalo

Pare National de I'lsalo (ish-a r-loo) covers 81,540 hectares of the eroded Jurassic sandstone massif of the same name. It's a marvel of evolutionary processes, with an unearthly, sometimes eerie landscape that's home to endemic plants and ringtail, brown and sifaka lemurs, as well as sacred Bara burial sites. Its flaxen plains are dotted with serrated grins of stratified rock reaching to the terracotta horizon. Its interior boasts valleys, waterfalls and canyons. You won't be alone in admiring...

Getting There Away

The Namoly Valley entrance lies east of An-dringitra, about 100km south of Fianarantsoa. Allow about 2Yi hours from Fianarantsoa in a private vehicle. The road is in good condition and negotiable with 2WD at most times of year. The Sahanambo Valley entrance to the west of the park is about 110km from Fianarantsoa and four hours in a private vehicle. Taxis-brousses go to Namoly from the western side of the market in Ambalavao on Thursday. On other days you can find transport to the village of...

Canal Des Pangalanes

The Canal des Pangalanes is a collection of natural rivers and artificial lakes that stretches approximately 600km along the east coast from Toamasina to Farafangana, although it's only navigable from just north of Mananjary. More than its rather dull scenery, the canal's charm comes from the procession of boats of all shapes and sizes on its waters, and the small villages on the banks. Here you can stop to see eels drying in the sun, visit local coffee factories, or talk with fishermen mending...

Diego Suarez Antsiranana

Diego is far from the prettiest spot in the region, but its central location - almost equidistant from the beaches and national parks - makes it a good place to anchor oneself. Plus its wide streets, old colonial buildings and generally sleepy feel give it a languid, genteel air only experienced in the tropics. This is a slow-moving place where nearly everything shuts for most of the afternoon, and the residents still indulge in long afternoon naps. Recently, however, Diego has picked up a bit...

Taxi Brousse

The taxi-brousse station at the northwestern edge of town serves Antananarivo as well as points north as far as Soanierana-Ivongo (Ar8000, four hours) and south as far as Ma-hanaro. Minibuses and coaches run along the RN2 throughout the day to Moramanga (Ar 12,000, five to seven hours) and Antananarivo (Ar 13,000 to Ar 15,000, at least seven hours). It is best to leave early to ensure that you reach your destination during daylight. Three weekly MadaBus services run between Toamasina and...

Mahajanga Majunga

Mahajanga is a sprawling and somnolent port town with a palm-lined seaside promenade, wide avenues, shady arcades and walls draped with gorgeous bougainvillea. It is sometimes also known as Majunga. With its large Muslim and Indian populations, and historical connections with Africa, Mahajanga is one of the country's more colourful and ethnically diverse places, similar in atmosphere to many places on the East African coast. The women wrap themselves in the brighdy coloured cotton wraps seen in...

The Pirate Kingdom

By the early 18th century, le Sainte Marie had become the headquarters of the world's pirates. At one stage the pirate population of Madagascar numbered close to 1000. English and French naval policing had slowed profits in the once-lucrative Caribbean to a trickle, so Madagascar, and le Sainte Marie in particular, was an ideal base from which to ambush traders sailing around the Cape of Good Hope between Europe and the Far East. One of history's most infamous pirates, Captain Kidd, arrived on...

Nothing But Mammals

Every year between July and September, Baie d'Antongil, just south of Maroantsetra, is the site of the migration of hundreds of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae). The whales make their way from the Antarctic northward to the warmer waters around Baie d'Antongil, where they spend the winter months breeding and birthing before the long journey back to Antarctica. En route the whales swim past Fort Dauphin and le Sainte Marie, where they are often sighted offshore. Humpbacks can measure up...

Diphtheria

Diphtheria is spread through close respiratory contact. It usually causes a temperature and a severe sore throat. Sometimes a membrane forms across the throat, and a tracheostomy is needed to prevent suffocation. Vaccination is recommended for those likely to be in close contact with the local population in infected areas, although this is more important for long stays than for short-term trips. The vaccine is given as an injection alone or with tetanus, and lasts 10 years. Self-treatment none.

Language Difficulties

Parlez-vous anglais par-lay-voo ong-lay Ya-t-ilquelqu'un qui ya-teel kel-kung kee dit en fran ais dee on fron-say Je ne compren pas. zher ner kom-pron pa Could you write it down, please Est< e que vous pouvez es-ker voo poo-vay Je voudrais acheter How much is it zhervoo-dray ash-tay say kom-byun zhervoo-dray ash-tay say kom-byun Pouvez-vousm'indiquer poo-vay-voo mun-dee-kay What time does quelle heure leave arrive part arrive the boat le bateau What time does quelle heure leave arrive part...

Insect Bites Stings

Mosquitoes might not always carry malaria or dengue fever, but they (and other insects) can cause irritation and infected bites. To avoid these, take the same precautions as you would for avoiding malaria (see p289). Bee and wasp stings cause real problems only to those who have a severe allergy to the stings (anaphylaxis), in which case, carry an adrenaline (epinephrine) injection. Scorpions are frequently found in arid or dry climates. They can cause a painful bite that is sometimes...

Lac Ampitabe Vohibola

Accessible only by boat, Lac Ampitabe is a great place to go and get away after a few days on the river. It is peaceful, with white sandy beaches and a wonderful private wildlife park. The Palmarium Reserve ( 033 1 4 847 34 admission Ar10,000 S dawn-night) recently changed ownership (it was Le Reserve d'Akanin'ny Nofy, named for the village of Akanin'ny Nofy, northeast of the lake), and protects 50 hectares of palm-tree forests. Inside you'll find wide, well-maintained trails, and several...

Solo Travellers

Travelling alone in Madagascar or the Comoros poses few safety problems, provided you use common sense, such as avoiding unlit streets in bigger cities after dark. The main disadvantages of travelling solo are financial - single rooms in hotels or guesthouses are uncommon, and you will invariably end up paying for a double room. You can expect to pay very high rates for organised tours if you're on your own, so it's best to find fellow travellers to share costs. Speaking French will make a huge...

Libertalli Nosy Be

Naturally, Nosy Be is home to dozens of tour companies, some specialising in multi-day dive or snorkel cruises around the various islands, while others simply provide inter-island transport or day excursions. Many dive operators also organise boat excursions. In addition to the contacts listed here, touts sell trips directly to hotel guests and sunbathers on the beach. Although not everyone is happy with these trips in local wooden pirogues, most people return quite satisfied, if a little...

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is spread through contaminated food (particularly shellfish) and water. It causes jaundice and, although it is rarely fatal, it can cause prolonged lethargy and delayed recovery. If you've had hepatitis A, you shouldn't drink alcohol for up to six months afterwards, but once you've recovered there won't be any long-term problems. The first symptoms include dark urine and a yellow colour to the whites of the eyes. Sometimes a fever and abdominal pain might be present. Hepatitis A...

Vineyards

Wine production in the area around Fianarantsoa began in the 1970s, with technical expertise and funding from a Swiss corporation. Today, Fianarantsoa is Madagascar's wine-making centre. Several of the largest vineyards lie northwest of town along the route to Isorana, or northeast along the road to Ambositra. The most popular and accessible vineyard is Lazan'i Betsileo ( 75 516 24), about 15km north of Fianarantsoa. If you're visiting on your own, ring in advance. About 7km outside...

Maroantsetra

Maroantsetra (maro-ant-setr), set on Baie d'Antongil near the mouth of the Antainam-balana River, is a remote and isolated place full of languid charm, surrounded by beautiful riverine scenery. It's well worth spending a day or two exploring the area on foot, quad or mountain bike. On the way you'll pass vanilla plantations, wave-pounded beaches and the occasional chameleon on the side of the road -plus, of course, dozens of waving children. From July to September there's a good chance of...

North Of Toliara Ifaty

Ifaty is the collective name given to two dusty fishing villages - Ifaty Mangily and Madio Rano - between which are strung a series of beach bungalow hotels. Ifaty is more visited than Anakao to the south of Toliara, and the beach is narrower and rockier, but the snorkelling is good. Diving, especially for sharks, is better here than further south. In July and August, you may see migrating whales pass nearby through the Mozambique Channel. Inland, a dry desert leads into sparsely scrubbed...

Reserve Privee de Berenty

This place is the Madagascan version of the grand old East African safari-lodge experience - minus the swimming pool and swanky bungalows. You do get to watch tame lemurs frolic in the garden or walk in peace through quiet forest trials without the constant companionship of a guide. Berenty was established in 1936 by sisal planter Henri de Heaulme in order to preserve gallery forest. The reserve, together with its small companion reserve of Bealoka, 7km to the north, contains nearly one-third...

Malagasy Proverbs

He who refuses to buy a lid for the pot will eat badly cooked rice. Other people's children cause your nostrils to flare. Done in by his own trade like a water merchant in the rain. spot of family or tribal significance are a popular leisure activity and are usually accompanied by a picnic. Concepts of time and date also have a great influence on Malagasy lifestyle. For example, Malagasy strongly believe in vintana destiny , which influences the dates of parties held to mark circumcisions,...

Safarivezo Netdub.mg

The following places can organise all kinds of excursions to attractions in the surrounding area. Chez Alain g 94 415 27 www.chez-alain.net in French Sans FN Down a small lane near the main taxi-brousse station, they have Information on tours and activities plus mountain bikes to rent. Les Vedettes d' Anakao 94 437 21 vedettes tulear-tourlsme.com Mahavatse 2 Formerly Compagnie du Sud, has 4WDs for hire and can help get you started on your own adventure. Motel Le Capricorne 94 431 66...

Libertalia Bungalows Map p www

.lelibertalia.com d Ar54,000 About 2.5km south of Ambodifotatra, this is one of the classiest mid-range choices on the island. The setting and beach are lovely, there's snorkelling off a private jetty, and the bright blue-and-white bungalows have fans and mosquito nets. It's a small place on a small beach, but it's friendly and very well maintained. Excursions and rental bikes can be arranged. Les Bungalows de Vohilava Map p208 S 57 402 50 www.vohilava.com r Ar62,000 The rooms here are...

Famadihana

On the crest of a hill a grove of pine trees whispers gently. In the shade, trestle tables are spread with sticky sweetmeats and bowls of steaming rice. A band plays a rollicking, upbeat tune as the stone door of a family tomb is opened. Old ladies wait at the entrance, faces dignified under their straw hats. Middle-aged men are getting stuck into lethal homemade rum, dancing jerkily to the rhythms of the band. One by one the corpses are brought out of the tomb, wrapped in straw mats and danced...

Soanieranaivongo

Soanierana-Ivongo is a small town notable primarily as a port for boats to and from lie Sainte Marie. If the pronunciation of the name defeats you, you can get away with referring to it as 'Sierra-Ivongo'. There are no really good accommodation options, so it's best to try to time your travels to avoid having to stay overnight. If you do stay, the obvious place is Hotel Les Escales 032 43 174 63 bungalows with shared bathroom Ar10,000 , right next to the boat jetty. Les Escales is also the...

Glossary

For a glossary of food and drink terms, see p43. Agate - Agence d'Acceuil T l com telephone office aloalo - elaborate woodcarvlngs used to adorn tombs andevo - traditional underclass andriana - noble Angap - Association Nationale pour la Gestion des Aires Prot g es National Association for the Management of Protected Areas , the organisation that administers most of Madagascar's parks and reserves Antaimoro- east coast tribe from the region around Manakara also the name given to a type of...

Pare National dAnkarafantsika

Probably the most interesting trip out of Mahajanga is to Pare National d'Ankarafantsika 130,026 hectares , which contains the only fully protected example of dry western deciduous forest in Madagascar. At the park headquarters in the area known as Station Foresti re d'Ampijoroa is a fascinating breeding centre for two threatened tortoise species, the flat-tailed tortoise Pyxis planicauda and the very rare ploughshare tortoise Geochelone yniphora , as well as the only Malagasy endemic turtle,...

Vegetarians Vegans

Fish-eating 'vegetarians' should have no problems in either Madagascar or Comoros. French restaurants rarely cater for vegetarians, but small local hotelys in Madagascar can usually whip up some noodles, soup or rice and greens. Protein could be a problem for vegans, as beans are not as widely available in Madagascar as they may be elsewhere. In the Comoros, vegetable dishes are harder to find, but beans are back on the menu - don't miss the delicious Swahili red-bean-and-coconut stew known as...

Hikes Treks

Madagascar is a walker's destination. Conditions and levels of difficulty vary, but most visitors will be strapping on their walking boots at some point. These are some of the most breathtaking walks on the island. Grotte des Portugais, Pare National de I'isalo pi23 Grands Tsingy, Pare National des Tsingy de Bemaraha pi 51 Peninsula circumambulation, Masoala Peninsula p223 Ascent of Pic imarivolanitra, Pare National d'Andringitra pi 10 Pare National de Mananara-Nord, northeast coast p217 use a...

Cultural Centres

Alliance Fran aise d'Antananarivo off Map pp72-3 22 211 07 www.alliancefr.mg RueSeimad, Anda-vamamba Q Offers French and Malagasy language courses and sponsors various cultural events. American Cultural Center Map pp72-3 s 22 200 89 ramanantth S gt state.gov 7 Rue Rainizanabololona S 2-5pm Tue amp Wed, 8.30am-12.30pm Thu Occasional lectures, concerts and exhibitions. Centre Culturel Albert Camus CCAC CCF Map p76 22 213 75 www.ccac.mg 14 Ave de l'Ind pendance S 10am-6pm Tue-Sat The centre has a...

Pronunciation

Pronunciation guides c before e and i, as the V in 'sit' before a, 0 and u, it's pronounced as English 'k'. When undescored with a 'cedilla' , it's always pronounced as the's' in 'sit'. r pronounced from the back of the throat while restricting the flow of air Most other letters in French are pronounced more or less the same as they would be in English. In any case, the pronunciation guides we've included should help make things a lot easier.

Ambatoloaka

Nosy Be's southernmost beach is one of the island's most popular and touristy, but far from its best. Despite its less than model look - The low, griarled ylang-ylang e-larig-e-lang tree is seen in plantations all over Nosy Be. Its scented green or yellow flowers are distilled to make oil, which is exported to the West for perfume. The trees are pruned into low and rather grotesque shapes to make picking the flowers easier. The large ylang-ylang distillery admission free 8am-3.30pm Mon-Fri,...

Meningococcal Meningitis

Meningococcal infection is spread through close respiratory contact and is more likely in crowded situations, such as dormitories, buses and clubs. Infection is uncommon in travellers. Vaccination is recommended for long stays and is especially important towards the end of the dry season. Symptoms include a fever, severe headache, neck stiffness and a red rash. Immediate medical treatment is necessary. The ACWY vaccine is recommended for all travellers to the region. This vaccine is different...

The Rova Avaradrova Andohalo

The Rova Palais de la Reine Map pp72-3 Rue Ramboatiana , or royal palace, is the imposing structure that crowns the highest hill overlooking Lac Anosy. Gutted in a fire in 1995, it is still under restoration and was not open to the public at time of research. If it has reopened when you visit, remember that it is fady taboo to point your finger directly at the royal tombs or the palace itself. Even with the palace closed, the adjacent districts of Avaradrova and Andohalo are fine places to...

Scams

On arrival at Ivato airport you're very likely to be approached by one or more freelance guides, who promise to arrange transport or tours to other parts of the country, particularly the popular Tsiribihina River trip. Some travellers have found this a convenient way of departing quickly without lengthy shopping around however, even with a signed TsaraRue .f 90 J nT 49 TsaraRue .f 90 J nT 49 Emba y . 6661 3 District 3 73 Q1 contract you have few guarantees, and some readers have reported...

Midrange

H tel Shalimar Map p76 22 640 03 yascom wanadoo.mg RueMahafaka rAr30,000-60,000 El Having started life as a reputable Indian restaurant, the Shalimar has branched out or rather, up to offer accommodation over four floors of mostly spacious rooms with TV, Disney mirrors and the occasional nod to its Asian heritage. There's a travel agency on site and an open upstairs terrace, as well as a second, more basic branch of the restaurant near Hotel Sakamanga. Merina Lodge Map p76 24 522 33 merina...

Bus Taxibrousse

From the towns on the RN2, you'll be able to find onward transport to places like Andasibe and Ambatondrazaka, although once off the RN2 the roads are generally poor. North of Toamasina, taxis-brousses continue daily as far as Soanierana-Ivongo, from where you catch the boat to lie Sainte Marie. Taxis-brousses are usually prevented from travelling further north due to collapsed bridges and enormous potholes. Likewise, no taxis-brousses go south from Toamasina, but further down the coast the...

Sahambavy Tea Estate

The Sahambavy Tea Estate admission Ar7500 S 7.30am-3.30pm Mon-Fri produces high-quality tea for export and a lesser grade for local consumption. It lies near the village of Ampaid-ranovato, about 15km east of Fianarantsoa and along the rail line towards Manakara. A visit includes a tour of the tea-processing factory and ends with a tea-tasting. Organised day excursions can be arranged in Fianarantsoa for about Ar75,000, including the entry fee. To visit on your own, take a taxi-brousse heading...

Around Antsirabe Lac Andraikiba Lac Tritiva

In the hills west of Antsirabe are two volcanic lakes, both easy day trips from town. Lac Andraikiba, the larger of the two, lies 7km west of Antsirabe off the Morondava road RN34 . In the 19th century, it was a favourite retreat of Queen Ranavalona II today it is dirty with sewage, although it's possible to walk around the shores of the lake. According to tradition, Lac Andraikiba is haunted by the ghost of a pregnant girl who drowned during a swimming competition with another girl for the...

Anakao Nosy Ve

The petite but pleasantly bustling Vezo fishing villages of Anakao A and Anakao B are blessed with an entrancing semi-circle of white-sand beach, a slice of turquoise water and a fringe of emerald-green vegetation. An assortment of guesthouses on either side of the villages are perfect for recuperating from a tough journey, doing a bit of diving or admiring the hundreds of brightly painted pirogues rocked gently by breaking waves. Very serious divers, however, consider the diving slightly...

Pare Mitsinjo

Based at the d'Analamazaotra forest station on the Andasibe road, about 150m from the R serve Sp ciale d'Analamazaotra, this private park 56 832 33 mitsinjo hotmail.com S 7am-5pm amp 6.30-9pm is run by local guides, who formed the Association Mitsinjo to promote conservation and community tourism. It's a great idea to add Mitsinjo to your itinerary before or after visiting the main park the guides here are very friendly and knowledgeable, and here you can do a night walk inside the actual...

Fady

Fady is the name given to a system of local taboos designed to respect the ancestors. Fady can take innumerable forms and varies widely from village to village. It may be fady to whistle on a particular stretch of beach, to walk past a sacred tree, to eat pork or to swim in a certain river. Although foreigners and other outsiders are normally exempt from fady or are excused for breaking them , the taboos should be respected. The best thing to do is to ask locals for information, and to be...

Hotel Belle Vue Chez Layec Diego Suarez

Budget travellers will dig Diego - there are plenty of cheap choices. Reserve in advance if you have your heart set on a particular room. H tel Belle Vue Chez Layec 82 210 21 belle vuedie blueline.mg 35 Rue Fran ois de Mahy d Ar12,000-20,000 A lively hotel that's good for linking up with other travellers - there's a noticeboard for tours. Rooms are simple, but all come with fan and net. The cheapest rooms share baths, but even these have hot water. H tel Fiantsilaka 82 223 48 13 Blvd Etienne r...

Mahavy Kinkony Wetland Complex

The brand new Mahavy-Kinkony Wetland Complex, which only gained government protection status in 2007, is the result of several semiprotected areas merging into one. Now covering 268,236 hectares, it incorporates a diverse and fragile ecosystem consisting of marine bays, river and river delta, and 22 lakes, including Madagascar's second-largest, Lac Kinkony. The preserve is also home to dry deciduous and gallery forest, savannah, marshland, mangrove, caves and lots of wildlife. Decken's sifakas...

Information

Agence Tourisme Verte RECA Mroni danielmoitane yahoo.fr S 8am-1pm amp 4-9pm For car hire, excursions and information about boats in the town square. Monsieur Daniel can also arrange homestayswith local families, and provide guides for hiking CF20,000 per day . The office is right next door to the BIC. BIC 71 01 71 S 8.30am-3.30pm Mon-Fri The only bank on the island in the town square. Centre M dical Urbain de Mutsamudu 7113 Internet Shop 71 15 28 per hr CF600 S 8.30am-8pm About 70m up the road...

Ranohira

The small town of Ranohira provides a convenient base for exploring Pare National de I'lsalo and is the nearest significant setde-ment to Ilakaka, a once sleepy, now busding town at the centre of the sapphire trade. Acres of waving yellow grass stretch skyward all around the town, randomly broken up by towering rock massifs. At sunset or sunrise, the whole vista unfurls with an unearthly red and pink glow. Angap S 7am-4pm Mon-Fri, 7am-noon amp 2-4pm Sat amp Sun is next to Hotel Berny, 100m from...

Sights

The Fabrique de Papier Antaimoro Antaimoro Paper Factory 75 340 01 admission free 7.30-11.30am amp 1-5pm lies behind the H tel Aux Bougainvill es. You can see the women of the factory making paper from scratch. They start with the bark of the avoha bush, which is first boiled in water to form a pulp, then it is pounded, spread out over cotton cloth on wooden frames and left in the sun to dry. Once it's almost dry, fresh flowers are pressed into it. It is then left to dry again, after which the...