Toamasina Eastern Region of Madagascar

Toamasina Eastern Region of Madagascar

The Eastern region ticks every box at the top of most tourists' must see and must do list for Madagascar.

It has rainforests, traditional culture, beaches, lemurs, vanilla and even whales which, from July to Setember, swim past Taolagnaro and Ile Sainte Marie en route to the warmer waters of Baie d'Antongil.

The region, with its humid tropical climate, boasts an abundance of plantations growing coffee, cloves, vanilla and all tropical fruits, making it generally the most affluent region of Madagascar. Along the banks of the Canal Des Pangalanes built by the French during colonial times to connect the lakes and rivers along the eastern shore, you can spot the vanilla plants as well as cinnamon and coconut trees.

With its sun and secluded white sandy beaches the 50km coral island of the Ile Sainte Marie (also called Nosy Boraha), formerly a haven for 18th century pirates (hence the pirates' cemetery), is now plundered by beach lovers.

The rainforests were also plundered by local farmers clearing land for cultivation but thanks to current protection schemes the rainforest of the Masoala National Park, now a World Heritage Site and the largest of the island's protected areas, is, today, a safe and flourishing habitat for the many exceptional species of fauna and flora.

Three marine parks are included in the Masoala National Park and, for kayaking and snorkelling, provide fascinating marine environments to explore.

Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, about 15km northern from Andasibe, is also a protected rainforest area in Eastern Madagascar. The park includes the Analamazaotra Reserve, home to the largest lemur, the Indri, which is known for its distinctively loud call. The park is home to native species including the big Parson's chameleon, plus rare orchids and ferns. Trail circuits weave through dense forest, past lakes and the stunning Sacred Waterfall.

Thanks to the rich biodiversity of the Eastern region and traditional medicine practise, many of the plants are used for treating ailments by the Betsimisaraka and Tanala. Sixty eight have been identified with preparations and administrations as varied as the plants themselves.

The tribes of the Betsimisaraka north and the Betsimisaraka south in the area of Tamatave also practise ancient rituals combining traditional music and superstition via colourful tromba ceremonies communicating with living and ancestral spirits.

MAJOR CITIES/TOWNS: Tamatave, Ile Saint Marie (Nosy Boraha), Mananara, Maroantsetra, Vatomandry, Mananjary, Manakara

NATIONAL PARKS AND RESERVES: Masoala Peninsula, Nosy Mangabe, Parc Ivoloina (Duke Primate project), Andasibe-Mantadia.

Eastern Destinations

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