Visiting the SAVA Region
We highly recommend spending some time in the northeastern region of Madagascar called SAVA, named after its four main towns: Sambava, Andapa, Vohémar and Antalaha. This remote and fascinating area has much to offer — dense rainforests literally humming with life; stunningly beautiful white-sand beaches; verdant, terraced rice fields; and warm and welcoming people with a rich and vibrant culture.
Most of the following places are owned and operated by local Malagasy people who love their land and their culture and who are eager to share it with you. We encourage you to visit with them, listen to their stories, learn about their work and traditions, and soak in the beauty and biodiversity all around you.
Check out their websites for more information, photos, and contact information.
New Generation School Garden — A private garden which practices sustainable agriculture and teaches the importance of nature and biodiversity, founded by local guide Mr. Evrard Benasoavina. Tour the gardens and facilities and take a pleasant walk through the hills behind Sambava to discover local products and enjoy panoramic views down to the sea.
The Bemarivo River, up to Amboangibe — Boat trips on the Bemarivo River (as with the Lokoho River) can be organized through local people to learn more about their lives and their livelihoods (coffee, vanilla, cocoa, coconut) at a peaceful pace on a wide river with beautiful scenery. Check with your guide or at Mimi Hôtel in Sambava.
Domaine d’Ambohimanitra — The Domaine d’Ambohimanitra is a plantation with a rich collection of vanilla trees.
Anjanaharibe-Sud Special Reserve — This remote, little visited national reserve in the mountains west of Andapa is home to the northernmost population of Indris. Hike into Camp Indri, a beautiful, wild location set deep in the forest with indris and many birds nearby. The haunting, ethereal sound of the indris calling to one another in the mornings is something you will long remember.
Antanetiambo Nature Reserve — A small but fascinating private reserve with a great variety of flora and fauna, run by local guide and wildlife expert, Mr. Rabary Desire. The reserve affords beautiful views of the emerald-green rice fields of the Andapa Basin and the surrounding high forested mountains, and offers an opportunity to learn about the cultural values and practices of the Tsimihety people of the area.
Agnolakely Nature Reserve — A small private reserve in the hills near the trail to Marojejy with fishponds and a thriving tree nursery, run by local guide, Mr. Jacques Harison Tonkasina (aka Jackson). See the work Jackson is doing to integrate agroforestry techniques into his reforestation efforts.
Agnatialahely Reserve — A small private reserve that allows one to spend time in a nice area near Andapa, sharing good meals, visiting a nearby waterfall and river, and watching wildlife.
Bobangira Nature Park — A private reserve on the Indian Ocean between Sambava and Vohémar, with wild, unspoiled beaches and forests rich in biodiversity. Tours of up to several days can be arranged; night walks to view nocturnal creatures are highly recommended. Owned and managed by Mr. Bruno Lee Sio Tsion, one of the area’s most ardent supporters of wildlands.
“Village of Plaideau” — Enjoy a day hike to the village of Andripatra, passing through dunes, mangroves and up to the “Red Tsingy,” a red rock canyon with interesting erosional features. A tour complete with lunch can be arranged by contacting Mr. Rolland at the Galaxy Hotel.
Macolline Botanic Park — A beautiful botanic garden on a hill overlooking the Ankavanana River and Indian Ocean near the town of Antalaha, lovingly run by local legend, Mme. Marie-Hélène Kam Hyo Zschocke. Trails wind through lush vegetation up the hill to spectacular viewpoints. Pirogue trips up the river to small villages can be arranged.
Masoala National Park — This large national park protects the vast rainforests and pristine white sand beaches of the Masoala Peninsula, south of Antalaha. Parts of Masoala can be accessed either from Antalaha or from Maroantsetra, where boats can be arranged for transport to both Masoala National Park and Nosy Mangabe Special Reserve. Multi-day treks are possible for the fit and adventurous traveler through the remote and beautiful countryside between Antalaha and Maroantsetra.
Cap Est — While it’s not a park or reserve, the coastline south of Antalaha around Cap Est is a place of stunning beauty and well worth exploring. Travel is slow in this area but that just gives you all the more opportunity to savor the beaches, the villages, the countryside, the way of life. Ambohitralana and Ambodirafia are two of our favorite villages in this area.