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Nosy Be Wonderful Island at Madagascar

The Nosy Be Archipelago is situated off the north-west coast of Madagascar. The tropical climate and superb location makes it Madagascar’s beach-resort destination per excellence. It’s the most expensive destination on the island. Still, compared to Europe, prices are competitive (except for the most exclusive resorts), and many visitors find the lack of major development and mora-mora (literally, slowly slowly) lifestyle worth the extra euros. Though Nosy Be’s clear inclination towards mass tourism, it is yet a largely sleepy place with sugar cane plantations, rum distilleries, ylang-ylang bushes, lounging lemurs, and little air of expectation.

Nosy Be is paradise for water-based activities. Not to forget that this still beautiful island offers some amazing snorkeling and diving opportunities and some primary forests with a great wildlife. Diving is the island’s top draw, and there is plenty of swimming and sailing for those keen to stay close to the surface.

Once you’ve had enough of seascapes, discover for yourself the rolling landscapes of the little-explored hinterland: such as the brilliant Réserve Naturelle Intégrale de Lokobe, the island has cocoa, ylang-ylang and vanilla plantations, crater lakes and waterfalls, and miles of dirt tracks accessible only by foot or quad bike. Audiophiles should visit in May, to experience the four-day Donia Music Festival.

Best time to visit

jan feb mar apr may june july aug sept oct nov dec

Key attractions

Nosy Be Island – will delight the most demanding visitor

“Nosy Be?” Is that a typo for “Noisy Bee?” Nope. It means “big island” in Malagasy, though the island has been granted several nicknames over centuries, being probably “Nosy Manitra” (the perfumed island) the most popular of all. As soon as you arrive at Fascene’s airport your nose will soon understand why. Scenting ylang-ylang, coffee, cacao, vanilla and sugar cane plantations spread all over the island distil a balmy fragrance that will delight your sense of smell. The yellow ylang-ylang flower is one of the products used in the production of perfume essence. Red pepper is distilled as a perfume essence too.

Nosy Be’s landscape is varied and it is characterized by a great many hills that are overlooked by Mount Lokone (450m) and Mount Passot (329). From these high vantage points offers an exceptional view onto Nosy Be Bay, but also on the Radama Islands (south) and Mitsio Islands (north). There are eleven volcanic lakes on the island, which constitute an enormous water reserve for humans and crops. The whole coastline is punctuated by a great number of gorgeous bays and deserted beaches lined by palm trees. There are also many small islets and rocks which are often visited by refuges seeking for some private. Temperatures are pleasant around the whole year.

Nosy Be offers a wide range of activities that will please even the demanding visitor. Enjoy a relaxing break on white sandy beaches, blue-green sea and the amazing coral reefs. Explore the lush jungle in the Lokobe National Park and make the most of your holidays visiting some of the surrounding islands. Indulge yourself a day cruise to the outer islets of Nosy Komba, Nosy Tanikely and Nosy Sakatia; participate in a scuba diving adventure in the jewel-like archipelago of Nosy Mitsio or embark on a discovery trip to the remote Radama islands, with an astonishing rich undersea life. We will help you find your own way of exploring the natural wonders of this archipelago, far away from the tourist centers.

Among the various pleasures do not miss these:

The incredible beaches of Nosy Be. These little pieces of paradise with pearly white sand and turquoise blue sea, transparent as gin, create terrific places to experience the island's charm. They are ideal for swimming and water sports, with magnificent sunsets, like views of paradisiacal postcards. There can be very fun night life is also good - it's no surprise that more and more visitors come to Nosy Be as an excellent alternative to the expensive Mauritius.

Mount Passot&Crater Lakes. With its 329 meters above sea level, Mount Passot is the highest peak of the island. It is particularly recommendable to climb onto the top before sunset to see Nosy Be in all its beauty: jagged coasts, numerous bays and lovely coves, deserted beaches and the crystal-clear water reddening under the brighten twilight whilst the horizon changes its color into orange, pink and purple. It’s a good spot for admiring sunsets and the sweeping panorama. It’s also one of the best places to see Nosy Be’s crater lakes.

You should not miss a visit to the nice waterfall of Androadroatra with its crystal-clear opal waters. A 50m cascade sliding and falling over a wet rock wall all covered with moss and lichen into a natural pool.

Hell-Ville (Andoany) is a colonial town and the administrative center of the island, as well as its main port. Despite the off-putting moniker (named for Admiral de Hell, a French governor of Réunion), Nosy Be's main town is anything but hellish. Rather, it's an upbeat, comparatively smart place where frangipani and bougainvillea frame crumbling of old colonial buildings, pavement cafes bustle with tourists and expats sip strong espresso. The town is characterized by beautiful restored colonial buildings along the sea promenade, some of which were built early in 20th century. In the upper part of the port, old cannons dating back to the time of the pirates watch over the harbor. For the best sunset-viewing setting climb the hill where the old hospital was built. The sea gets dotted with white sails when the fishermen’s launches come back to port.

ENJOY THESE… activities to make your holidays in Nosy Be special:

*Quad ride in Nosy Be. Explore Nosy Be in an unprecedented way. Relax and feel strong through off-the-beaten paths: the quad. A superb quad adventure through Nosy Be awaits you! Adrenaline rush and rapture guaranteed!

*Visit Nosy Sakatia, the island of orchids. Nosy Sakatia is known for its flowers but also it has many other riches. The Orchid Island is still unspoilt piece of paradise, offering excellent snorkeling, diving and moderate hiking. Possibility of safari-sea turtles.

*A walk on the island of Nosy Komba. Do you like hiking? Discovery? The great outdoors? Nosy Komba is the ideal place for an easy hike, off the beaten track and in the forest, in the heart of a nature that is almost intact and an abundance of wildlife. Island rich in biodiversity and panoramas through the one-day way Robinson Crusoe.

*Visit Nosy Iranja. It is one of the most beautiful islands around Nosy Be. Here, the word paradise takes on its full meaning. It invites you to relax in a multicolored decor. Nosy Iranja is a place that dreams are made of. The most beautiful excursion. Do not miss out!

*A getaway close to nature in the Lokobe National Park. In the Lokobe National Park, chameleons, lemurs and birds live in an environment where the only sound is the ocean.

*Go to Nosy Tanikely Marine Reserve - "Natural aquarium" where fine sand, colorful fish and unforgettable moments of relax await you. You visit Nosy Tanikely Marine Reserve – famed for its world-class snorkeling and diving.

*Fishing day in Nosy Be. Off the northwestern coast of Madagascar, abounding of fish, all species of fish of the Indian Ocean can be found, and even the most demanding fishermen and anglers will be proud of their catches.

*Cruise on the islands of Nosy Be archipelago. Together with our partners "Ulysse Explorer", with the whole crew you will would fully enjoy your vacations, worrying for nothing because the skipper knows the region very well. His presence won’t modify in no way your liberty to navigate because he will be happy to let you the control anytime you want.

*Diving and snorkeling for everyone. From beginners to professionals. Training. The service is provided by our partners - certified dive centers offering the best standards in quality and safety. The late Jacques Cousteau described the waters of Madagascar as the world's most beautiful diving area.

*Whale watching at Nosy Be (July to September). Here we together with our partner «Ulysse Explorer» organize boat excursions daily for “whales watching”. We spot them and draw near without disturbing groups of whales, in general females with their calves. We will outdo them and at 100m we will shut off engines.

*Take a Nosy Be Helicopter Tour. Breathtaking views. A panoramic ride over the emerald green islands in the sapphire blue sea, making up the best vistas of Madagascar! This can be an excellent start to your stay in Nosy Be (Fascene’s airport transfer) or an exclusive final act, to glance at places you've been to (transfer to the Fascene’s airport).

Watch more photos about Nosy Be island here.

Nosy Sakatia, the island of orchids

The so called Orchids Island is still unspoilt piece of paradise, offering excellent snorkeling, diving and moderate hiking. Sakatia is known for its flowers but also it has many other riches.

Nosy Sakatia is only 6 km long and 2 wide - it is the most authentic island of archipelago Nosy Be (protected and classified by the Ministry of Environment). The inland is pretty hilly and it offers beautiful hikes, especially at higher elevations. The southern tip of the island is still a virgin forest inhabited by the smallest chameleon of the World (1 cm) and many other species such as fanihy (giant bats). It’s relatively untouched by tourism, so is the perfect place to hole up and enjoy the real Madagascar, away from the crowds, where there are no roads, only footpaths.

Discover the chameleons, birds or rare medicinal plants that you will encounter during your day which naturally takes place under the sign of discovery. Take a walk in the middle of Nosy Sakatia's unspoiled landscapes: blazing flamboyant, coffee trees, pepper pots, vanilla, tree of the “traveler”, pineapple, anacardier, mangos, jacques, guava, eucalyptus, raphia, orchids, healing plants, fruit trees, acacias, palms, medicinal plants, endemic birds, chameleons, surprising views on totally deserted beaches but also meeting with schools and the fishing villages cut off from the world. Everything is there!!!

You can wander among the giant ferns, check out the birds and beasties, laze on the beach or don mask and snorkel and explore the underwater world for which the island is rightly famous. And if you’re a qualified or aspirant diver you’ve come to the right place; Nosy Sakatia has its own NAUI approved dive center and offers the full gamut of dive courses. The diving is easy - all dives are boat dives, but most are just a short distance from the launch site. The island is fringed by coral reefs and there’s plenty of fun to be had in the channel between there and Nosy Be. In addition to colorful coral you are likely to see giant cucumbers, turtles, sponge crabs and, at night, exquisite Spanish dancers, so the sites are great for novices to learn the trade or for night dives. There’s also plenty of challenging diving for the adventurous. Huge extensive reefs surround Nosy Sakatia and at their edges are exciting walls and drop-offs, some exciting drift dives and a wreck off Ambatoloaka.

Morning discovery, afternoon relax… Culture and traditional activities of the Malagasy autochthons, fishermen, and craftsman invite you to share their lives with the rhythm of a generous and respected nature. For your wellness, you will finish your journey on a private and splendid beach, A real piece of paradise and tranquility. Lunch on a beach, snorkeling, kayaks and beach games are at your disposal. At lunchtime, savor the succulent fresh seafood and Malagasy specialties in the shade of the coconut trees. You will enjoy this private beach to the fullest, its bar and hammocks.

Immersion in the Malagasy atmosphere that is "mora-mora" where you will take the time to appreciate all that surrounds you. Definitely, make sure Nosy Sakatia is on your itinerary.

Watch more photos about Nosy Sakatia here.

Nosy Tanikely Marine Reserve – The Natural aquarium

Nosy Tanikely Marine Reserve – famed for its world-class snorkeling and diving. Beach of fine sand and turquoise sea await you. Lazing of course, but also snorkeling! With a mask and snorkel, go to meet many colorful fish just a few steps from the beach, explore the underwater world of anemones and coral, hopefully swim with a turtle or two!

Nosy Tanikely is a marine national park, which means almost the whole biodiversity of the island lives in the sea. The island itself is home to some reptiles like plated lizards and panther chameleons, a lot of hermit crabs and some introduced black lemurs. A colony of flying foxes has settled on Nosy Tanikely, too.

Nosy Antanikely means "small land island", we could even talk about island, it is uninhabited and visitors come on a day trip but cannot sleep on the island, which also has a landscaped interest for those who are less interested in the seabed. Since 2010, access to the island has been controlled. A diverse coral reef and a privileged position in the middle of Bay Nosy Be give it its nickname "a crystal clear natural aquarium", so one can easily imagine why such an island with its spectacular, uninhabited white beaches is a real paradise destination for biologists and underwater photographers.

The real action starts underwater: The colorful, completely healthy coral gardens begin few meters in front of the beach, and inhabit an unbelievable wealth of fishes, starfishes, urchins, sea cucumbers and other creatures of the sea. Between huge corals, you can find acanthurids, blowfishes and groupers. Shoals of fish pass by iridescently, and you will not know where to take pictures first with your underwater camera, for sure. Blue ribbon eels are found along with leaf fish of all colors and numerous species of morays can be seen within a few centimeters of each other. Sea fans span an average of 5m and it is possible to observe over a dozen species of nudibranchs on one coral mound!

A special highlight of Nosy Tanikely is swimming with the sea turtles (Caretta caretta and Chelonia mydas), which you can find in high numbers around the island. Especially older individuals are often not afraid of snorkelers, and you can amazingly watch the peaceful giants at closest range. From time to time, dolphins cross the sea, and even whale sharks are occasionally seen visitors of the sea between Nosy Be and Nosy Tanikely. During November and December whale sharks consistently feed in the rich waters around Nosy Be and sharks can be seen feeding in crystal clear waters at Manta Point.

During July and August, humpback whales migrate through the Nosy Be area, and sperm whales have been one of the rarer encounters.

The Nosy Tanikely Marine Reserve with its abundant corals and an exceptional biodiversity, offers habitats to many underwater species. With such diversity of life combined with the lack of underwater research means that many other species are waiting to be discovered!

The beach of "l'Est" constitutes the zone of bathe, on the other hand, it is possible to dive all around the island, buoys delimit the zone of the reserve.

On your way, do not miss the Tanikely lighthouse! At its summit you have a breathtaking view: the green island surrounded by its white sandy beach contrasting with the intense blue of the sea.

Nosy Tanikely is the best site to discover scuba diving and snorkeling or to get back in the water after several months of urban life, thanks to its average depth of 12m, max. 18m. Visibility is 10 to 30m all year long, though this it can be reduced by plankton tides - the upside of course is that this attracts the bigger fish! Temperature of the water ranges from 25C to 30C.

You can be sure that Nosy Tanikely is one of the most beautiful and gorgeous place of Madagascar for snorkeling and diving. Even if it is the first time for you to snorkel or you have few experience in diving, you will find a true underwater paradise here.

Watch more photos about Nosy Tanikely Marine Reserve here.

Nosy Iranja, the place you dream about at night

It is one of the most beautiful islands around Nosy Be. Here, the word paradise takes on its full meaning. It invites you to relax in a multicolored decor. Nosy Iranja is a place that dreams are made of. It is the place you dream about at night. It is that tropical island screensaver that comes with the computer. It is pretty much perfect. The most beautiful excursion. Do not miss out!

Located 1h30 from Nosy Be boat, Nosy Iranja is also called "Turtle Island".

ENJOY THESE… moments:

Nosy Iranja is actually 2 separate islands that become one at low tide as the islands become connected by a dreamy white sandbar (1,2 km) with stunning azure water on either side which is submerged at high tide (Nosy Iranja Be: the big, and Nosy Iranja Kely: the small). You can walk, swim, sunbathe or do whatever on the sandbar while it still exists.

The island has many attractions and amenities, one of the most notable being that it is an important breeding reserve for hawksbill turtles. It is a small tropical sea turtle with hooked jaws and overlapping horny plates on the shell, extensively hunted as the traditional source of tortoiseshell. Most of the turtles lay eggs in the south of the island.

The setting is idyllic, stunning beaches surround a lush tropical island covered with coconut palms, Filaos trees and tropical flowers. The bird life is diverse and remarkable and the island also is home to huge Coconut crabs.

The northern (bigger) island, Nosy Iranja Be, is home to a small village, inhabited by the local fishermen and a lighthouse designed by Gustav Eiffel. You will have the opportunity to visit this still authentic fishing village and take a short walk to the old lighthouse nestled at the top of the island. From here you can enjoy a panoramic view on the Radama Archipelago.

The tour will include a great lunch of fish, rice, shrimp and meat skewers and some salad. The food is actually outstanding and barracuda is one favorite types of fish.

Heavenly place for swimming, without forgetting the walk on foot on the sandbank.

Watch more photos about Nosy Iranja here.

Nosy Komba, the island of lemurs, a jewel of nature

Nosy Komba is the hyphen between Nosy Be and mainland Madagascar. The peak of the island is at an altitude of 622 meters, covered by dense tropical forest. The map of the island strangely looks like a giant turtle, it is surrounded by volcanic rocks, protecting shores from rough waters. The island is also called Nosy Ambariovato, meaning the island surrounded by rocks. Nosy Komba is known for its many small and inhabited beaches as well as for its waters like emerald. Nosy Komba is a small jewel of nature, increasingly visited and becoming a mirror of its larger neighbor, Nosy Be. It is home to many Maki, lemurs, also called Macaco. Tranquility prevails as there are no cars, neither electricity. Beauty of nature and sweetness of life make it a most attractive place to be.

Do you like hiking? Discovery? The great outdoors? Nosy Komba is the ideal place for an easy hike, off the beaten track and in the forest, in the heart of a nature that is almost intact and an abundance of wildlife. Island rich in biodiversity and panoramas through the one-day way Robinson Crusoe.

At Nosy Komba you can observe lemurs Macaco, and at night you hear their cries echoing against the wall mountainous island, jungle atmosphere guaranteed! Agility of these plush redhead and black lemurs is fascinating and majestic as their similarity to us is great. Many families lemurs macaco inhabit Nosy Komba, they live in a mixed group but females dominate. Males have black fur and females are redhead fur. They like eat fruits and plants.

With its tropical climate and high sunshine rate, Nosy Komba has a diverse nature. The landscapes are varied: magnificent beaches, bamboo forests and dense tropical forests, wild rivers, waterfalls, huge boulders of granite and basalt. Covered by a dense tropical forest and clear waters, Nosy Komba is home to a multitude of animals among which: lemurs Macacos, chameleons, lizards, snakes, spiders, but also sea turtles, rays, dolphins. There are about twenty kinds of batrachians, various reptiles and 19 species of identified birds. Around the island winding rivers and many beautiful waterfalls and basins forming natural pools of fresh and cool water. Ideal for washing off the ocean salt!

The Bay offers beautiful natural aquariums where there are many varieties fishes, corals, shellfish and other aquatic species. Nosy Komba is one of those places that are home to a diverse and abundant marine life. Sea turtles are present throughout the year. Around the whole island live several families of dolphins. They can be seen every day, they swim and play between Anjiabe and Antamontamo. From July to November, humpback whales come to enjoy the warm waters of the bay to give birth babies safe from predators. They take advantage of the bay of Nosy Be shallow and well protected to fatten and harden their offspring before heading off on a long journey to the northern seas late November.

Watch more photos about Nosy Komba here.

The Bay of Russians. A fascinating area full of mystery and intrigue

The Bay of Russians (or Ambavatory Bay), located in Nosy Be archipelago, is a fascinating area full of mystery and intrigue. It lies at the tip of the Ampasindava peninsula. The bay is a real shelter for passing ships and is being used long time anchorage area.

The marine life in the bay itself is spectacular, offering wonderful snorkeling and scuba diving, especially on the reefs outside the entrance. It environment is remarkable for its beauty and biodiversity. This region is known for the presence of dolphins, whale sharks and manta rays. The humpback whales mate and give birth in this area. The beaches also serve as nesting place for sea turtles while many fringing coral reefs are real natural aquariums.

The forests are inhabited by lemurs, wild pigs, bats and birds is represented by one of the rarest raptors, Pygargue Madagascar (Haliaetus Vociferoides). Some villages are located nestled the coast and live mainly on fishing, animal husbandry and the cultivation of coconuts. The Bay of Russians has beautiful white sand beaches lined with coconut trees and filao.

The bay's name dates back to 1905 during the Russo-Japanese war when a Russian warship anchored there. Their orders were to attack any passing Japanese ships, but the crew took to life in Madagascar and realized that they did not wish to wage war nor to return to Russia. Their ship was hidden in the upper reaches of Russian Bay and twice emerged to trade with pirate vessels that used to frequent the Mozambique Channel. The ship eventually ran out of fuel for its boilers and sunk in the bay years later. The last Russian sailor died in 1936. The soldiers’ graves and the remain of ship can still be seen today.

Watch more photos about Bay of Russians here.

Lokobe National Park – Your beautiful walk

Lokobe National Park is a beautiful place covered in thick rainforest. Your beautiful walk will take you through dense vegetation to meet nocturnal and diurnal lemurs including macaco and fulvus, chameleons, boas as well as 42 species of birds including the owl of Madagascar and the Madagascar kingfisher. Silence is obligatory for the respect of its nocturnal fauna. This also facilitates the observation of animals.

Lokobe covers around 7, 4 km² of the last remaining Sambirano primary forest of Nosy Be, added to this, a marine protection area of 1,22 km² belongs to the park, too. Already in 1927 this ancient forest started to be protected and in 1966 the actual Reserve was created. In 2011, Lokobe was officially declared a national park and thus opened to the public. But most of this park is closed to the public due to the delicate and unique balance between fauna and flora.

The park is mostly known for the black lemur. These humid medium altitude evergreen forests are the natural habitat for the endangered black lemur, which only occurs here and is the most representative species of the park. Unfortunately only few are left. These lemurs are real beauties. The females are not black at all, but beautifully reddish brown. They are the national park’s secret mascots  that jump through the tree top and come quite close to people and very popular among visitors. But the black lemurs are not alone: Sometimes, rare Hawk’s sportive lemurs (Lepilemur tymerlachsoni) sleepy blink through the branches, and in the night, mouse lemurs (Microcebus mamiratra) run through the area.

Regarding the flora, palms are the most spread species. There are a couple of local endemic palm species and precious woods too. You can still gaze at giant trees like the ramy (Canarium madagascariense). They also have other, very rare plants like the palm trees Dypsis nossibeensis and ampasandavae. Lichens and ferns grow everyhwere.

Lokobe National Park is also home to some endemic birds like the Madagascar pygmy kingfisher or the Madagascar long-eared owl, to spectacular panther-chameleons, local endemic frogs and several snakes. Over centuries, animals could develop undisturbed in this park, and became enormously diverse. 42 bird species fly in Lokobe. Between green leaves, chameleon species like the blue and white panther chameleon (Furcifer pardalis), pymy chameleons (Brookesia stumpffi, ebenaui and minima) and the real Calumma boettgeri hide. In trees, on rocks and along the many small, idyllic streams, you can find endemic plated lizards (Zonosaurus boettgeri), leaf-nosed snakes (Langaha madagascariensis), bright green day geckos (Phelsuma grandis, seippi, abotti, laticauda, dubia) and small frogs. If you are lucky, you may even find the perfectly camouflaged leaf-tailed gecko (Uroplatus ebenaui and henkeli). All in all, more than 50 reptile species and almost 35 amphibians call Lokobe their home. Among the frogs of Lokobe, there are Mantella ebenaui and one of the smallest frogs in the world, Stumpffia pygmea. Butterflies lovers will also get their money worth: More than 110 species of butterflies live in Lokobe.

There is also a 1,5 km long path, consisting only of stairs, up to a lovely view point. The latter can become quite hard to go due to the tropical climate of the island – but the amazing view will reward you afterwards. After your walk you will be treated to a lovely fish lunch.

Lokobe National Park has a special that makes it unique among all national parks of Madagascar. So when visiting Nosy Be, take into consideration to visit Lokobe.

Watch more photos about Lokobe National Park here.

The Mitsio Archipelago

The Mitsio Archipelago is a collection of small islands located about 55 km of Nosy Be and 30 km off the mainland of Madagascar. The archipelago is made up of more a dozen islands, which are uninhabited except by a few small fishing hamlets and one tourist resort and is only accessible by boat.

The Mitsio islands boast dreamlike beaches with glorious turquoise waters and world-class destinations for excellent diving and snorkeling. They are also great places for kicking back and relaxing after a few days (or weeks) exploring nature’s wonders on foot. Skimming over the water you often glimpse bottle nosed dolphins and green turtles but the arrival is even more breathtaking, as you slow among tiny tropical islands, lush with tropical vegetation and necklaced with powder-white beaches.

Few parts of Madagascar suffer from any a light pollution and this is no exception: at night the stars glitter brightly over the water. Spectacular sunsets are luminous wonders. It’s a time to watch in appreciation as the sun sinks into the Mozambique Channel, turning the sky a molten gold and providing a spectacular backdrop to Organ Pipes’ striking silhouette.

Beautiful beaches make the islands a dream destination for day excursions. Alternatively, charter a yacht or take a boat trip to explore from above the water.

A pristine underwater world. Below the archipelago’s surface, a vibrant world teems with marine life. Divers float through more than 300 species of coral and a huge variety of fish, including eel, barracuda, kingfish and tuna. This attracts many shark species, including grey-reef, white-tip, silvertip, zebra, scalloped hammerhead and tawny nurse sharks, all drawn by the unfettered and largely unexplored ecosystem.  Here you can plunge into deep-waters at Nosy Be to discover a wonderland of barracuda, boxfish, starfish, rays, sea urchins eels, and plenty more exquisite marine life of the reef. Corals are in good condition and the ocean offers a large diversity of reef fish.

Watch more photos about The Mitsio Archipelago here.

La Grande Mitsio and Organ Pipes – a little-known bizarre natural wonder

La Grande Mitsio, biggest island of the archipelago and it is the only inhabited island in the archipelago, where about 1500 residents live an unfettered life of subsistence agriculture. It is the largest island of the archipelago and is about 12 km long and 3 km wide. Its highest peak is 206 meters. Traditional pirogues (dugout canoes) dot the ethereal silver-blue horizon, where sea and sky merge seamlessly. Fishermen drift miles from land in searing heat and haze, fishing by hand for squid, swordfish and African red snapper.

The island is popular amongst windsurfer and divers, can only be reached by boat.

Nosy Mitsio is known for its huge basalt columns, resembling organ pipes, also called the Organ Pipes. A jewel of the Indian Ocean hidden in Mitsio archipelago, Organ Pipes is a bizarre natural wonder formed 125 million years ago. With tubular basalt volcanic sediments that project spectacularly into the sky, the site bears an uncanny resemblance to Northern Ireland's famous Giant's Causeway. Both were caused by a sudden volcanic eruption and rapid lava sedimentation. But unlike the Irish World Heritage Site, which draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, Organ Pipes attracts just hundreds of travelers annually. Accessible only by boat, a little-known wonder, known to few travelers.

Most travelers arrive on a day trip from the mainland, eager to explore the hundreds of shimmering burnt copper columns that project up to 20m into the sky. Others search for 40 million-year-old fossils of extinct fish species, which have gradually been unearthed as sedimentary rocks push up out of the sea. Afterwards, many plunges into the gently lapping cerulean sea to swim with green turtles and bottle-nosed dolphins.

The strength of nature Organ Pipes’ ribbed vertical walls may look like a desolate oasis, but a defiant ecosystem clings on amid the charred volcanic browns and coppers, challenging gravity as trees sprouts upwards, parallel to the pipes. Organ Pipes is home to an abundance of exotic seabirds, brown boobies, northern gannets and white-tailed tropic birds drinking the purified rainwater that seeps through fractures in the rock. Large colonies of up to 100 pairs of frigate birds nest and breed exclusively in the archipelago, and avid birdwatchers should look out for the one of the world’s rarest birds: the critically endangered Madagascar fish-eagle, also known as the “King of the Sky”.

Watch more photos about La Grande Mitsio и Organ Pipes here.

Five Pearls of the Mitsio Archipelago

Nosy Ankarea is a small island part of the Mitsio Archipelago. It is surrounded by some beautiful beaches and home to many succulent plants. The island's forest is relatively untouched due to various fady. A climb up the highest hill on Nosy Ankarea (219m), passing many interesting succulents en route, reveals spectacular views over the entire archipelago and surrounding reefs. The island also offers wonderful beaches and an exceptional surrounding seabed. Nosy Ankarea has a fabulous bay where the beauties of the seabed are displayed for the admiration of the divers.

Les Quatre Freres (the Four Brothers) is made up of four imposing silver basalt rocks. The islands are partly covered by savanna. Two of the islands containing huge caves with fantastic overhangs that serve as place of laying for hundreds of sea birds such as brown boobies, northern gannets, white-tailed tropicbirds, and frigate birds. These islands of silver basalt are particularly beautiful at dawn and at sunset.

Nosy Toloho - Hidden tombs of ancient kings. Ancient empires and chiefdoms once ruled Madagascar, and tombs of powerful Sakalava Kings, dating from the 5th to 15th Centuries, lie buried in the Mitsio archipelago. Untouched Toloho Island is home to one such tomb, although visitors can only enter at certain times of year, which vary according to lunar cycles and are known locally among the Malagasy. Visitors must wear a lamba, a traditional sarong, to offer gifts such as honey, money and rum to the ghost of the king. Malagasy culture pivots around revering the dead, with blurred lines between the past and the present.

Nosy Lava is the northernmost island of the Mitsio Archipelago in Madagascar. The island is 3.5km long and 1.5km wide and covered by vegetation. The highest point is 160m. At low tide a beach stretches along the northern part of the island. Note: There is another island also named Nosy Lava, which is a former prison island, part of the Analalava district.

Nosy Tsarabanjina - an island paradise. The only place to stay in the archipelago is on a private island resort. Its mountainous silhouette, fringed by white sand beaches loos up on the horizon. This mountainous silhouette of forested hills, volcanic rocks and badamier trees is fringed by reefs housing dolphins and green turtles, with humpback whales visiting from July to August. Its luxuriant vegetation includes baobabs and pachypodium. You can observe the sunset on the Frères islands with a ballet of frigate birds, northern gannets and white-tailed tropicbirds. Try traditional fishing in the evenings and boat trips to the great basalt columns, the famous sight of “Grande Mitsio”.

Look at these tours through NOSY BE and Islands around

16 days from on request View tour
from on request

On this itinerary, we aim to show you as much of Madagascar’s exquisite wildlife and habitats as can comfortably fit into a two week trip. Diego Suarez situated in a picturesque bay, encircled by hills. The changes in climate there create many varieties of flora and fauna, making this region particularly interesting for everyone. Another highlight of the tour is a visit to Ankarana, frequently cited as the one place in Madagascar having that ‘wow’ factor, which is a tough call in this extraordinary island! A short spell on the islands of the perfumed Nosy Be archipelago provides the perfect relaxing.

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16 days from O/R for 2-8 persons View tour
from O/R for 2-8 persons

The coast around Nosy Be, is dotted with archipelagos (Mitsio, Radama) and deep bays which are also privileged places to sail. Why not a loop around Nosy Tanikely, the Baie des Russes, Nosy Iranja and Sakatia? The Radama Islands are a paradise where the water slightly darkens only during rainy season. And then proceed to Nosy Lava, the northernmost island of the Mitsio islands. In the far North many excursions are available: ship out from the Baie du Courrier and its desert islands towards the Cap Sebastien and its moorings. The cruise is full of little discoveries to make you want to come!

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14 days from on request View tour
from on request

This colorful journey awaits you - this trip is rich discovery of biodiversity, especially snorkeling. You will admire and appreciate the various landscapes, characterizing the north region: the sea, the beaches, cocoas of Nosy Be and also the primary wet forest, flora and fauna. Each day of your sojourn is animated by variety excursions and surprise contacts. In addition to the sun, sea and sand, there are lemurs, abundant chameleons, the scent of ylang and vanilla, a market where you can bargain for spices, sacred lakes, villages and forests – all within easy reach of your hotel.

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