The Village of Ambatozavavy and the Mystical Belief

Ambatozavavy is a village of fishermen and farmers, located north-east of Nosy Be, 11km from Hell Ville. En route to Ampasipohy and a visit Lokobe Park, this village is mainly known for the stone that gave it its name: "Ambatozavavy", a combination of "Vato" (stone or rock) and "zavavy" (woman). Therefore, the name of the village would mean "Female Rock".
Why the Female Rock?
The banks of Ambatozavavy consist of a succession of small beaches, mangroves and rocks. In the direction of Ampasipohy there is a cluster of rocks, one of which is naturally formed in the shape of a female. From this particular form emerged a faith that fishermen and villages are under the protection of this rock, which symbolizes a spirit with supernatural powers. Here the well-known spirit of "Vato zavavy" would make it easier to find a soul mate, to keep a relationship stable and to achieve the grace of childbirth.
People from different ethnic groups gather to express their wishes. Easily identifiable, the rock is surrounded by red and white fabrics, representing Gold and Silver, symbols of the Sakalava kingdom, the ethnic group which mainly inhabits the island of Nosy Be.
An offering is made for each "joro" or ritual of invoking the spirits. It can be a coin, honey, rum or anything else. Once the wishes have been granted, all applicants must return and make a new offering, as a sign of gratitude, with a value equal to that of the granted wish. The greatest offering would be the sacrifice of a zebu, then shared in the village during a great celebration and meal.
This article was featured in Prime Magazine November 2018

Useful Information


When to go

In this north-western region of Madagascar, the temperature is almost constant at 26°C and 28°C. However, the visit is recommended from April to December.


How to get there

Regular flight by Air Madagascar /Tsaradia from Antananarivo to Nosy Be. Ambatozazavavy is then about 11km away. By road, plan an 18-hour trip from the capital by taking the RN4 and then the RN6 to Ambanja and finally to Ankify by ferry.


Where to stay

If you plan to stay at the village, "Chez Jimmy" is a good place to go. It is a hut in the heart of the town, a small, simple, rustic and clean house with a very dedicated team. If you prefer to sleep at Nosy Be, "Nosy Be Hotel Resort & Spa", "Vanilla Hotel & SPA" or "Home Residence"; are most recommended.


Where to eat

There are restaurants and bars in the village. It is a paradise for local specialties. In Nosy Be, try the restaurants "Nosy Be Hotel Resort & Spa", or "Chez Nono" or "The Ravinala Restaurant".


What to see

Les balades en mer sont les principales activités d’Ambatozavavy. A compléter d’une randonnée encadrée par des guides pour découvrir l‘hospitalité des villageois, l’histoire de Nosy Be et celle du village. Profitez de votre séjour en cet endroit de l’île, pour découvrir la richesse biologique de la région dans la réserve de Lokobe.

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