Travelogue Madagascar – Île Sainte Marie (part 3)

beach Ampanihy

For the last week of our honeymoon D and I traveled to the beautiful Île Sainte Marie off the eastern coast of Madagascar (so behold, there’s beach photos to come). We started our travel in the capital Antananarivo (also called Tana) and visited a National Park on our way east. As I told you in part 1 of this series I was pretty much set on winging our itinerary. This meant that we didn’t know where we would spend the night when we stepped onto the ferry from Tamatave to Île Sainte Marie. During my backpacking days I had often traveled like this and enjoyed it quite a lot while D remained – sceptical.

Ile Saint Marie

When we arrived at the harbor, we were greeted by several gentleman praising the advantages of their respective hotels and chose to go to one a bit farther north from Ambodifotatra. We had a basic bungalow for something like $10 or $20 per night and were quite happy. The people were incredibly friendly, the place was deserted apart from a nice french family and we practically had the beach for ourselves. Unfortunately I can’t remember the name of the place, but I took it upon myself to torture you by drawing up a map (yep, those are my best efforts! Red x marks the hotel).

Ile Sainte Marie map
Map of Île Sainte Marie – I have the worst handwriting, ha! Can you decipher anything?

Every day came a woman around to ask what we would want to eat for dinner. Then – depending on our choice – she would wade into the ocean and catch fresh fish. We spent our days relaxing at the beach, snorkeling and exploring our neck of the island. Ambodifotatra provided some variety every once in a while, a dog proved a faithful companion while on Île aux Nattes and the pirate cemetery transported us back to times when pirates seeked refuge and pleasure at the Baie de Forbans. We usually turned in early as there was no electricity (also meaning no more light) from 9pm until sunrise. You get used to a slower rhythm of life and with no light around there are a million more stars to see at night.

walking tour Ile sainte Marie

The most wonderful day though was when we hiked with a guide from our hotel and the french family across the island to the Ampanihy Peninsula. It was sunny and we had plenty of time to enjoy the lush greenery of this most beautiful island. Our guide stopped every once in a while to tell us something about the island’s history or the plants we passed. (I confess I had never seen the tree bark that makes cinnamon) At the end of the trail was a great restaurant where we had fish in sauce coco (so very good!) and were then led to pirogues. In these little boats we went to the Ampanihy Peninsula. We stopped a couple of meters before the “shore” and waded through knee-deep water to the mangroves. Then our guide took a knife and led us through the mangroves very Indiana-Jones-like. From the “jungle” (ha, it was about ten meter of trees) we emerged to the most beautiful deserted beach I have ever seen in my life. Pristine white fine sand, the bluest water with gentle waves and no signs of civilization. I will remember that day for the rest of my life.

best beach Ampanihy

Alas, every vacation must come to an end. After our week in heaven we took a plane back to Tana. It was there that we encountered some turbulence and after this flight I emerged with a bad case of flight anxiety that troubles me still today. Apart from that one stupid flight we had a great time and I’m well aware that we only saw a tiny part of the country. I would love to explore the nature of southern Madagascar, dive at the reef there and visit the sapphire mines of Ilakaka or see baobab trees in the west or go see the island Nosy Be in the north. But I’ll be honest: Should I ever be so lucky to return to Madagascar, the Île Sainte Marie and that beach at the peninsula are very loudly calling my name!

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