October 5, 2016
Today we drive from Antsiranana (Diego Suarez) to Ankify where we catch a boat to the island of Nosy Be for a couple days of beach and diving before heading back to Johannesburg. We arranged the transfer to the port at Ankify with Eric at le Paradis du Nord, the same outfit that arranged our day trips to the Red Tsingy and the Three Bays.
Eric explained that the drive would take six and half hours and cost 390,000 ariary ($120 USD) for the both of us as they also charge for the return trip back to Diego. We were to leave at 6AM so the driver could get back to town the same day.
Our driver Tony was on time and a fast but safe driver. The vehicle was in good condition and our first car in Madagascar to have working seatbelts.
The first part of the drive, the drive from Diego to Ambilobe, is rough for most of the way, passing through villages and markets, with numerous people and animals on the road. This is the same road that passes by the turnoff for the Red Tsingy and the Ankarana Reserve.
Tony stops for the occasional chameleon.
A teenage girl wearing only blue striped underwear throws rocks at a zebu who was encroaching on her bathing hole by the side of the road. Sorry no photo.
Two boys try to coax their zebu cart to the side to let the on-coming truck pass. The zebu, however, are reluctant to move sideways.
Ambilobe is a bustling crossroad town and like Diego comprised of colorful crumbly colonial era structures.
Surprisingly there are many more bicycles here than we have seen anywhere. The bicycle traffic continues along the way to Ankify.
From here the landscape becomes greener with mountains in the background and more mature trees than we have seen anywhere except for in Amber Mountain National Park.
Just outside of Anikfy the route is a pretty shaded lane that is in much better condition.
In Ankify Tony drives us straight to the port and hands us over to a boat captain. I’m suspicious at first but it is one of the collective boats that Eric suggested we take to Nosy Be. We’re charged the 12,000 ariary Eric said it would cost and get the last two spots so it leaves straight away.
On the way to the boat an official looking sort wanted to check our passports, forcing me to dig out my money belt in the middle of the open port.
Once on board the small boat which accommodated about 18 passengers we were given life jackets that we were expected to put on as everyone else had. The wind had picked up and the sea was rough, bouncing us across the waves. If I didn’t hold on I would fly up and crash back down hard on the seat.
The trip to Nosy Be took about 40 minutes including a stop at another island where a young woman and man took off their shoes, climbed over the side of the boat and walked to shore.
At the port in Hell-ville on Nosy Be the porters were eager to carry off our bags before we had decided on a taxi. Only one young man offed us a taxi service, asking the same price to Palm Beach that the folks at Nosy Lodge advised me it should cost, 25,000 ariary. We reach the lodge by 1PM, 7 hours from Diego.