Why You Should Visit Mahajanga
Mahajanga is the largest commercial port town on Madagascar’s west coast. It’s the lifeblood of trade between mainland Africa and the island of Madagascar, and it has a rich history and a wonderful mix of cultures colored by merchants and traders. Mahajanga is set along the Bomboteka River delta, which divides the city into three major districts to the east, south, and west. The region is best known for its African baobabs (an introduced species), one of which plays a major role as a traffic island.
Why You Should Visit Mahajanga
Cities like Mahajanga and Toamasina are generally more traveled than the rest of the country and are filled with European expats and business people. The main drawcards are the natural beauty and the warm, cosmopolitan atmosphere that centers on the beaches and the markets. Along with the excellent Malagasy food, Mahajanga has a good range of French, Chinese and Italian restaurants. Popular activities include a day trip to the nearby island of Nosy Bé, and a short ferry ride on a pirogue to the African mainland where you can visit the lively and colorful port in the capital Antananarivo.
Mahajanga Travel Tips
International tour companies run day trips to Nosy Bé, which is Madagascar’s 10th-largest island, and the densest in terms of wildlife. It’s an easy day trip from Mahajanga as the ferry leaves from the port, but it’s great for seeing attractions like the crab-eating lemur and the giant brown lemur which are endemic to the island. Other famous mammals like the endemic aye-aye and the ring-tailed lemur are common on Nosy Bé too. As with many of Madagascar’s attractions, the wildlife’s greatest threat is man and they’re endangered in many areas of the island. That said, you can still get decent wildlife viewing in Nosy Bé National Park, which is accessed via a 20-minute pirogue ride from the mainland.
Mahajanga can be a great launchpad for beach holidays as the nearby island of Nosy Be is easily accessible. There’s a good range of accommodation from mid-range hotels to upscale resorts. The town’s numerous markets are also worth checking out, and along with the vibrant colors and the buzz of many different languages, there’s an interesting showcase of Malagasy culture.
Accommodation in Mahajanga
Hotel Tiko (2.5*). This small and friendly hotel is positioned to the northwest of Mahajanga town center, but still within walking distance of the major attractions. The guest rooms are equipped with air-conditioning and the hotel has a swimming pool and a good restaurant.
Hotel Mahajanga Royal (3*). Hotel Mahajanga Royal is Mahajanga’s top hotel and is perfect for corporate travelers. The hotel is a little further out of town than the Tiko, but you can still walk to many of the town’s highlights. There’s a swimming pool and the rooms come with a full range of facilities.
Hotel Tropicana (2.5*). Hotel Tropicana is an easy walk from Mahajanga’s town center and offers comfortable rooms at a reasonable price.
Mahajanga Tourist Attractions
Mahajanga is a good base for exploring Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park, which is an adventure that can easily fill an entire day. The park is roughly 200km north of Mahajanga and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it’s still well-kept and doesn’t get the same levels of traffic that the main attractions do. You can arrange a day tour to the park by vehicle or by pirogue.
The Hotel Tiko is central to Mahajanga’s main market and is a great place to pick up some souvenirs. You’ll find local handicrafts and curios as well as some imported items that are available for a fraction of their price in Australia.
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