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The North of Madagascar

General description  |  Climate   |  The highlights

General description
map North Madagascar
The North of Madagascar is a scarcely populated region with an amazing variety of landscapes and ecosystems.
The rainforests of Northeast Madagascar are the last relict of a lost splendorous reign of giant trees, which has irremediably disappeared under the edge of the saw in many other parts of the country. The highest mountains of Madagascar are found here: in the volcanic massif of Tsaratanana intrepid travellers can climb the highest peak of the island, the Maromokotra (2.880 m.).
The biggest city along the North-Western coast is Mahajanga, a port city with a strong Muslim character. If you are an adventurous and wealthier visitor, who longs for a really intimate and laid-back beach experience on a solitary, empty and fabulous coast line can opt to move to one of the two luxury resorts north of Mahajanga, accessible only by boat or light aircraft.

Further north, the course of grey-sailed pirogues languishes on its swing around the colourful islands and islets that compose the postcard paradises of Nosy Be, Mitsio and Radama with their intact coral reefs, white-sanded beaches and sleepy fisher villages.

© Madagascar Travel Guide
Chameleons, with their obvious preference for tree branches and bright-coloured skin which can include the most implausible colours, are the favourite sights among the visitors of the fabulous Ambre (Amber Mountain) National Park, on the Northern tip of the island.


We find several climatic areas on the northern part of Madagascar.
In the north-western coast around Mahajanga there are two clear opposite seasons, a dry and warm period from May to November (20°C average) and a rainy and sometimes much hotter season from December to April, where temperatures reach more than 35°C.
Northern from Mahajanga along the West coast the Tsaranana massif is responsible of a micro-climate named after the main river in this area, Sambirano. Thus, this region and the islands around Nosy Be have the two seasons mentioned above as well, but the rainfalls are more spread during the whole year. That means that is does not rain so much during the rainy season but it does often rain during the dry period. Temperatures are warm all year around, with an average temperature of 25°C.
Northeast, on the opposite coast, the stable dry climate that dominates North Madagascar during the austral winter, abruptly changes. In Vohemar, the increasing grade of humidity marks the transition point to a different scenery. Here we cannot longer talk about a dry and a wet season. Although the period between May and November is in fact drier than the rest of the year, it can rain any time of the year. The months with the heaviest rainfalls are January, February and March. Rain can be torrential and it is the cyclone season as well, so we do not recommend coming here during this period.
Only the island most northern tip, the zone around Antsiranana (Diego Suarez), has a much drier climate, with a real dry season from March to November and not so many rainfalls during the rest of the year. Temperatures varies between 27-30°C average between December and April and 18°-25°C from May to November.


The highlights

-  The Nosy Be Archipelago: its fabulous beaches and small paradise islands turns it into one of the most touristic places of Madagascar. Apart from relaxing and sun-bathing, visitors can explore beautiful forests looking for lemurs and practise snorkelling and diving.

-    Antsiranana (Diego Suarez): located on the windy northern tip of the country, the biggest city of the northern part of the country is the entry gate to splendid national parks, but also an unbeatable hideaway with very nice pristine beaches and wonderful bays ideal for windsurfing.

- The “Vanilla coast” is the name given to the north-eastern coast between Vohemar and Antalaha: solitary white-sanded beaches like in the postcards we use to see and asuperb scenery makes this an unforgettable tour.

-Marojejy National Park: Visiting this park is doubtless one of the most intense nature-experiences you can make in Madagascar. Here it is just like it should have been on the Earth before we, humans, even existed: a Jurassic picture of mountainous wild ranges covered by impenetrable rain forests under an always present layer of foist.

-  Amber Mountain National Park: This lush jungle hides many mysteries in its crystal clear pools surrounded by fern, moss-cloacked cliffs and crater lakes. It is one of the best places to observe chameleons, including the Brokesia, the smallest chameleon on earth.

- Ankarana National Parkideal place for speleology enthusiasts with really awesome geological formations that include spectacular karst outcrops, craggy limestone promontories, fissured canyons covered by dense primary forest, and fantastic caves decorated with countless stalactites that hide an unexpected inhabitant: crocodiles.