“Sanctuary of nature”
The Bay of Antongil would be probably the very first place of settlement of Madagascar. Nosy Mangabe, for example, has indications of human presence dating at least from the 5th century, some 1000 years before the Dutch navigators, some of whom engraved their names on the rocks. In 1774, the Polish Benyowski created a French colony, which he baptized Louisbourg, and closer to us, in the 60s, a great Israeli forestry operator would actually have sought the Ark of the Covenant, which had disappeared after the captivity of the People Elected…
Today, people navigate between the immaculate beauty of their region and an enclavement where, with the necessary patience, one begins nevertheless to glimpse the end. At the entrance to the Bay, Mananara, the first clove producer in Madagascar, has its eye on the difficult rehabilitation of the 130 km separating it from Soanierana Ivongo. One day, thanks to the road, its small harbor which hosts four freight boats per week will be able to blow a little. Visitors will no longer be just product collectors, botanists, researchers, or extreme addicts. With its giant lagoons like the one at the tip of Ambitsika, its paradisiac islands like that of Antafana, and of course the forest, the nature according to this operator conquered here is one of the most beautiful in the world ...
In its verdure and its labyrinth of waterways, Maroantsetra constantly bathes in the scents of vanilla and clove, products that add rice - to supply all the surrounding districts, is enclavement - coffee, or fishery resources. Rich of its potential, it just needs to be a little less dependent on the passages of the plane to claim prosperity. She also believes more than ever in her predispositions for ecotourism, especially since the Masoala Park and its 230,000 hectares of protected areas are only about 30 kilometers away. Each year from July to September, Antongil waters are one of the preferred migration sites for humpback whales to breed and bring their whale calves to life. An opportunity in 2005 for the Maroantsetra-Masoala Tourist Operators' Group and its environmental partners to launch a Sea and Forest Festival. The initiative would benefit from being perennial to the benefit of a region which, more than any other, deserves the qualifier of sanctuary of nature.
Text: Thompson Andriamanoro
Photos Pierre-Yves Babelon
Thanks to Christophe de Comarmond