Côte-du-Sud-Est – Land of contrast
Land of contrasts, the South-East of Madagascar, boasts an indented coastline of exceptional beauty, matches perfectly with the hinterland where the word discovery has its full meaning. It is easily understandable that for centuries this coast has attracted visitors. The southeastern coast of Madagascar is extremely rich and varied. From beautiful deserted beaches to rainforests, it's a colorful journey waiting for you. Discover a warm and welcoming people and an ancestral culture for total immersion in the region. The entire south-east coast is punctuated by small fishing towns where you can stop and visit the surroundings.
Mananjary, Vohipeno, Farafangana, Vangaindrano are old seaside towns along the south-east coast of Madagascar. Each has its own unique character, features, and atmosphere and together they make up some of Madagascar's best coast travel experiences. The littoral towns are not overwhelmed with tourists as some of the coastal areas can be. You can discover all these places with NDAO -i-Travel.
Mananjary is a quiet and relaxing town at the edge of the Indian Ocean. Located away from the hustle and bustle of large cities, Mananjary is the perfect place to go for an innovative trip. On the edge of the Canal of Pangalanes, this small town in the southeast of Madagascar will answer all your desires. A veritable garden of exoticism, Mananjary will delight nature lovers. Mananjary is home to Lake Mahela directly overlooking the sea. Today colonial architecture exists side by side with local homes. Mananjary is also known for its customs, including the ceremony of circumcision celebrated every 7 years to mark the “Sambatra”: transition from young boys to adulthood. Mananjary can be the beginning of your adventure in the southeast or east coasts of Madagascar. You can indeed get onboard of a boat and sail down the Canal des Pangalanes. Our cruise from Mananjary to Andasibe-Mantadia National Park (available the same way and vice versa) allows you to continue your Madagascar holidays with us, enjoying the places that the East of Madagascar offers, or to return to our capital - Antananarivo.
For those who do not have enough time, we offer a beautiful excursion from Mananjary to the small village of Ambohitsara directly by boat through the astonishing and luxuriant vegetation of the Pangalanes canal to find a stunning sculpture called "Vatolambo". At Ambohitsara you will find a stunning sculpture called "Vatolambo" (the stone boar), cut in a white stone by Indians from Mangalore in the early twelfth century. You will be surprised of the statue of the “white elephant”, its origin isn't clear, the archeologists have different opinions about it. Others defend that statue dates back to the time of Arab and Persian immigrations around the year 900. Some say that the ancestors brought it from Mekka. A German researcher says that the statue is not an elephant but a special kind of pig, and that it has been made locally from a stone found nearby, by Chinese adventurers who came there before Jesus Christ was born. The statue is enclosed in a wooden gate which is locked. The village head requires an entrance fee for the open and tell his story. Ambohitsara is located between Pangalanes canal and the sea. Walk through the typical village and see a part of the genuine Madagascar, far away from big cities and "modern life". The round journey takes about “just” 8 hours by motor canoe or 15 hours by pirogue.
Nosy Varika is, in fact, not a real island, it's a small village and is a starting point of sports expeditions to the falls of Sakaleona, the highest ones in Madagascar. Sakaleona Falls are most spectacular falls of Madagascar (with a height of 200 m). They do deserve a real expedition of a few days. From Nosy Varika, we should go to the village of Ampasinambo in all-terrain vehicle 60 km. From here there is 30 km walk to the falls (a local guide and porters must be recruited in Ampasinambo). Bivouac near the falls. Also in Nosy Varika there is a small weaving fabric "Betsabetsa".
Vohipeno. In the ancient capital of the Antemoro, situated some 30 km south of Manakara, the Islamic influence is still perceptible in the cloths and attires, turbans, fez and the mixed features of the inhabitants` faces. Vohipeno is a cultural capital of the antemoro land, where the arabico-malagasy manuscripts called Sorabe are kept, and there is a key centre of divinatory science. It is worth to visit the "tranobe" (the ceremonial house), where visitors can meet their king. It is important to take off your shoes when going it because it is a holy place. In the market, it won’t be a failure to scrutinize the stalls of herbalists. Here, the traditional circumcision ceremonies are particularly impressive. The road from Manakara is in good condition. It is possible to stay in a rudimentary “gasy”-hotely type place. At 6 km east of Vohipeno there are magnificent Royal Antemoro Tombs.
The village of Ivato (6 km east of Vohipeno) houses the tombs of the Antemoro kings and princes. You can go in after obtaining the authorisation the Fokontany president (Fokontany – local parliament). Do not forget to bring –as always- a bottle of rum for the ancestors, as well as a monetary contribution (locals will instruct us on this). A descendant of the Antemoro king will accompany us during your visit and will teach you about the history of this place, as well as of the many taboos. The most significant tomb is that of King Ramarahola, the first Antemoro king. It is said that refused to let his grave been dug when he was about to die and started to pray. The earth opened below his feet swallowing his entire body and closed immediately. Each year, around December, the sacrifice of a zebu marks the peak of a big celebration held in his honour. A statue marks each entry of each tomb (which is surrounded by wooden posts). In the eastern site you will see a large ritual stone covered by a "lambamena" (royal red cloth) where offerings for the ancestors are placed. There are very few visitors that come here, so the visit is pretty informal.
Farafangana is a former colonial town, whose charm has not tarnished over time. Farafangana makes you dive into a picturesque setting where the many colorful markets will offer you all the region’s flagship products (coffee, cloves, pepper, rice, fruits). You will enjoy a peaceful, non-tourist and culturally rich town because three main ethnic groups live there: the Antefasy, the Zafizoro and the Rabakara. Fara fiangaina means literally "the end of the journey", and this apparent isolation of the place might explain the excitement of the locals when a “vazaha” shows up here. You’ll be able to go on excursion to explore the Manombo Special Reserve where numerous endemic lemurs live (the white-collared brown lemur and the black-and-white ruffed lemur). But you will also see a multitude of birds, reptiles, and batrachians which live together in a rich endemic vegetation. Farafangana is a major starting point to Midongy du Sud National Park - a tourist destination just for adventurous travellers and hardcore nature lovers. Farafangana, a cradle of traditions with a natural and wild decor, is still unknown but attractive. The surrounding landscapes and the city's scenery have it all. The destination is really ideal for a unique journey. Change of scenery guaranteed!
Vangaindrano, an Antesaka town, at the southern edge of the 400 km of coastline of the South East. “Vangaindrano” means “where you buy water”, and the town is renowned for its rich natural resources. Indeed, the region is naturally very fertile, that’s why Malagasy people has been exploiting resources in cash crops for years: rice, cassava, sweet potatoes, tropical fruits, and also prestigious products such as vanilla, cloves, spices and coffee. Vangaindrano is a starting point for the Lake Masianaka which is sacred for the Antesaka. It is also a starting point to the National Park of Midongy du Sud. And if you feel like it, go on excursion to the National Park to meet the many reptiles, birds and lemurs that live there. You can go for a walk on Ampatsinakoho, a beautiful beach protected by the reefs and rich in seafood. You can also go at the Mananara river source which rushes with a crash into a series of natural vats. 75 km away from Farafangana, Vangaindrano is the terminus of the RN12. For those with an adventurous spirit, going back to Taolagnaro (Fort Dauphin) by bicycle or moto (or all-terrain vehicle) across a wonderful region is an adventure in itself. It will be an arduous journey to Fort Dauphin - but like anything that takes time, it will be well worth the effort.
You also may discover the whole Côte-du-Sud-Est from Fort Dauphin to Toamasina with our seasonal offer a hard-trackless dirt tour (a 4x4 cross-country vehicle or motorcycle) "The venture into the unknown Côte Est of Madagascar" and enjoy the roads less traveled.
Watch more photos about Côte-du-Sud-Est here.