Discover Anjavimilay: cocoa beans and the mysteries of a sacred lake

Discover Anjavimilay: cocoa beans and the mysteries of a sacred lake
This village in the Sambirano Valley owes its name to the "javy"(aquatic plant), located on the lake and which navigate there by following the current. It is located in the northwestern part of the Big Island, in the DIANA region near Ambanja. The humid tropical climate is favourable to plantations of export crops such as vanilla, coffee or even pepper but perfume plants such as ylang, combava and vetiver are also famous to this area. Constituting particularly the estates of the production of cocoa beans in Madagascar, this region attracts domestic and foreign tourists thanks to the cocoa trees that run along the landscape of this village. The cocoa from Madagascar seduces the world with its quality, despite the small share it represents in world production.
Stories and legends
The stories related to the sacred lake are multiple and from different sources. Formerly, according to legend, Sakalava were surrounded by their Merina brothers during a battle and decided to sacrifice themselves by throwing themselves into this stream and have always remained there. Some say they have turned into crocodiles, while other oral traditions claim that they have turned into fish. It became a tourist attraction thanks to its historical dimension, the lake knew to keep its sacred character and is the object of worship regularly. "The geniuses see us, they hear us, bless or chastise also in case of disrespect ..." says a villager. These ancestors send signs to the descendants through the javy following their displacement (North or South, East or West). This is why this group of javy is also called "the floating island" because it moves on the lake to the winds.
This article was featured in Prime Magazine January 2018

Useful Information


When to go

Although the cacao harvest is year round in Ambanja, it peaks in October and November if you want to be able to admire the various stages of bean treatment. As for the visit of the sacred lake, no specific calendar but the assistance of a guide is advised.


How to get there

If you choose the land route, you take the RN4 from the capital and then continue via the RN6 to Ambondromamy via Antsohihy before arriving in Ambanja. The trip usually lasts between 18 to 20 hours. Regular flights from the Air Madagascar Company also provide the Tana-Nosy Be connection, then join Ankify by boat and then continue on the road, by car, to Ambanja.


Where to stay

The Hotel Palma Nova is located in the city of Ambanja, other establishments like Komba Forever, Hostel Maki Lodge, Floraly Komba, Coco Komba ... are located near Ambanja, a few kilometres away.


Where to eat

The association FIVEMI has a straw hut onsite where it organises meals made to order. Otherwise the hotel Palma Nova, La Timonière or Chez Patricia are often recommended for taste connoisseurs, in Ambanja. However, while visiting the Millot Plantation, tourists will have the opportunity to eat there since the establishment has its own restaurant.


What to see

Combine culture and tourism during your visit! You will have the opportunity to admire the "Joro", a ritual during which the villagers must honour the ancestors, meet them, pour fresh zebu blood as a request for blessing; make offerings: the first harvests, the best products ... Contemplate also the pods in wooden carts drawn by zebus crossing the rainforest. In short, a feast for the eyes, the brain and nose.

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