Morondava. Gateway to the West
Morondava is a picture-postcard town in the Menabe region in west Madagascar and a sleepy seaside town. The region draws visitors with its forest reserves and flourishing wildlife, but there's plenty more on offer for those willing to get off the beaten track. Also, it is an ideal place for a relaxing stay, since it is less crowded and (so far) devoid of beggars. The beaches are good and extend far to the north side of town.
In former times Morondava was a centre of the Sakalava Kingdom and a popular stop-over for sailors. Today the area is rich in sugar and rice farming, while remaining a popular stop-over, in particular for travelling to and from Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park, fishing village of Belo-sur-Mer, the wildlife park Kirindy, the Complex Mangoky-Ihotry, Le massif du Makay, Mikea National Park and Kirindy Mitea National Park. Nearby attractions include Kimony Beach, Baobab Avenue, Andranomena Special Reserve and the royal tombs. Morondava can also be used as a base for trips to the by pirogue (small boat).
The dry season is the best time to visit as daytime temperatures are about 27°C and nighttime around 14-15°C while the water is still as warm as the Mediterranean in summer (about 24°C).
Morondava is the capital of one of the greatest ethnic group of Madagascar: The Sakalava of Menabe. Many royal tombs or not, are the subject of curiosity of thousands of tourists. It is the Sakalava funerary art which makes these tombs very attractive. The royal tombs always comprise crowned relics. The characteristic of these tombs is that they are decorated with frescos and funerary sculptures telling the life of the deceased ones, rather naive but often impressed of a belief of erotism, erotic statues which mean much for the Sakalava because they symbolize procreation and life. They are anyway the witnesses, depicting a population without state of heart, but full with sap and strength.
One of tourist attractions of Morondava consisted in visiting these tombs (and to photograph them). The various tombs which are the subject of this tourists rush are the royal tombs of Mahabo, about 40 km of Morondava. Then, there are the tombs of Mangily, the tombs of Ambato sur Mer and Kivalo while passing by the tombs of Lovobe and the tombs of Maneva. Some of these tombs are accessible only during the dry season and some of them are accessible only in dugout canoes.
The Mozambique Channel still remains the principal possible way for the Sakalava of Menabe to leave their den with their sailing dugout canoes or wooden boats called goélettes. The rhythm of life in Morondava is animated by fishing (fish, cucumber of sea…), the culture and gathering of wild products intended for sale such as the raffia, wood, wild honey, the block of wax locally called “lasira”… These products constitute the currency of exchange for daily life products people need.
Here people more inclined to have fun in festivity and to enjoy the present life at great reinforcements of drinks much stronger than simple lemonade. Morondava shelters people with very particular customs and habits which only belong to them. That makes this area so special and unique in its kind. Morondava is also the centre of the Sakalava fight, which is also practiced in Diego.
The laidback atmosphere of this coastal town is felt all over the city. The local market is well worth a visit (interesting lambaony fabrics). In Namahora Nord the second most imporant market of the city is held. The city centre, called Bazary Be, is a lively compound of narrow streets full of strident merchants and street vendors. Nosy Kely, on the seashore, is the actual tourist borough. If you are on a dolcefarniente mood, head to the beaches of Betania, Bosy and Ankevo. Those with more time and an adventurous spirit should hop aboard a pirogue and head up the Tsiribihina river to see waterfalls and remote Malagasy villages.
Can be booked scenic charter flights over the most spectacular areas of Tsingy de Bemaraha. Available aircrafts are Cessna 172 (max. 3 passengers), Cessna 210 (max. 5 passengers) or Cessna 421 (max. 7 passengers).