Located on the southeastern coast of Madagascar, Fort-Dauphin (or Taolagnaro) is one of the most historic cities in Madagascar, having been the scene of numerous colonial expeditions between the 16th and 17th centuries. Important commercial port, the city is also a high tourist spot in particular for its natural sites but also for its historical ones.
History of Fort Dauphin
The Portuguese discovered the island of Madagascar in the sixteenth century, but gave up on settling permanently since the beginning of the seventeenth century. At the end of the 16th century, the Dutch attempted to establish a stopover in the bay of Antongil (near Masoala), but abandoned this activity due to difficult climatic conditions.
It was in a village of Mahafaly called Sainte-Luce that the French first landed. A fort was built at the request of Etienne de Flacourt in 1643. This fort thus became the most important place for the French trade post. The place was given the name of Fort-Dauphin in honor of Louis XIV, the future Sun King. This foreign presence was tolerated until 1674 when the Antonosy tribe attacked the fort. The survivors remained sieged in the fort for months until the White Pigeon ship docked in the area to rescue the survivors and take them to nearby Reunion Island. 100 years later, the French again attempted to establish a fixed trading point in Fort Dauphin and this time the locals warmly welcomed the settlers. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, FD remained an important port of passage for the Indian Ocean fleets. The history of the city is also linked to the pirates, legend has it that their treasures still lie at the bottom of the sea, somewhere near the coast.
What to see in Fort Dauphin
Today Fort-Dauphin has become a flagship destination of Madagascar, thanks to its biodiversity, its bays, its green mountains and its coves. Immersed in the heart of a paradisiacal environment, the city has a very strong tourist potential: lush greenery and sandy beaches await you in this amazing destination. The calm that reigns there has allowed the development of a unique fauna and flora.
Fort Dauphin, an attractive and bewitching city that keeps traces of its past. To discover the history of the place, a walk in the village of Sainte-Luce is essential. You will also find historical monuments that trace the European occupation such as Fort Flacourt or even the Fort of the Portuguese. There are many places to visit in Fort Dauphin, so many that you have to divide them between sea and land. For lovers of the sea Fort-Dauphin is ideal for pleasant walks to discover the Mandrare Valley and the coves of Lokaro Bay. Also Lake Vinanibe is located near the city is a sight not to miss where various nautical activities such as windsurfing and flysurfing can be done.
Libanona is a fantastic beach by the city. There are other interesting beaches in the city, such as Ankoba and False Cape for surfers.
For a more wild environment, we recommend again, Lokaro Bay which is approx. 40 km. Excursions can be organized to enjoy the charm of the region. Its coves are ideal for swimming and scuba diving. You could take a boat trip to observe the vegetation that covers the lagoons such as pandanus and “elephant ears”, a plant species typical of the Caribbean.
For those who love walking and the countryside, Pic Saint-Louis is a must, with a peak of 529 meters, it will undoubtedly delight trekking enthusiasts. From the top, you can enjoy a breathtaking view of abundant vegetation consisting of raffia, orchids, periwinkles and Ravinala (the traveller’s tree).
Another must is a visit to the botanical garden of Saïadi, where you will discover the beauty of the flora and fauna of the region. You will discover a wide variety of palms, ferns and orchids. Some species of lemurs also live there, such as sifakas, lemurs and fulvus, not to mention the species of crocodiles, butterflies and birds. The Nahampoana Reserve is perfect for recharging your batteries and communicating with nature. The reserve is home to a great variety of endemic species, which are home to five families of lemurs such as the apalemur and the brown lemur, as well as crocodiles and turtles.
From Fort Dauphin it is possible to organize daily visits to the Andohahela National Park and a visit of at least 2 days to Berenty Reserve.