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Madagascar: discover the last sailing paradise

Indifferent to the West Indies, Polynesia and the Seychelles? Well charter a catamaran in Madagascar: down there, there are no infrastructures, some sublime and deserted anchorages, ochre colored rock, coconut trees...an Eden for multihulls!


200 miles off the African continent, Madagascar is a huge island, 1,580 km (1,000 miles) from north to south and 500 km (310 miles) wide. A bit of Africa which detached itself millions of years ago, forming the Mozambique Channel. This island, bathed by the Indian Ocean, is situated between the Equator and the Tropic of Capricorn. At first glance: red ochre land and steep, spectacular relief – the highest summit reaches 2,876m (9,435 feet), and the high ground represents 70% of the territory’s area. A large variety of landscapes, endemic species, multicultural population; there is no lack of attractions… And for cruising? The passes of the many lagoons on the east coast are battered by the ocean swell, while the north-west coast offers many indentations, river mouths, and above all, a string of islands. Quite logically, the charter companies are based on the biggest of these – Nosy Be – the closest to the ‘Grande Terre’. Welcome to the heart of this still little-known multihull cruising paradise!



The itinerary offered by Dream Yacht Charter for a week’s charter:

Day 1

From Nosy Be to Nosy – Tanikely - Mamoke

After your provisioning and the hand-over of your catamaran, set a course to Nosy Tanikely, where you can go ashore and visit the island’s national park. Enjoy a nice free dive or a swim with the turtles and numerous species of colorful fish. Head towards Mamoke, a small island with a village built on a former colonial mansion, where giant turtles wander slowly through the tropical forest.

Day 2

Mamoke – Baie des Russes

Leaving Mamoke, you arrive in the peaceful Baie des Russes anchorage. The quiet surroundings make this the ideal place to anchor and explore the island, bordered by coconut trees. The island’s wildlife is omnipresent: wild pigs, lemurs and one of the rarest birds of prey species in the world – the Pygargue de Madagascar. Enjoy a barbecue on the white sand beaches with other cruisers.

Day 3

Baie des Russes - Nosy Iranja

Just 8 miles from the Baie des Russes, discover Nosy Iranja. This remote, private island is home to a turtle ‘farm’, where the visitors can see the turtles facing extinction come ashore to lay their eggs. You will be welcomed by the friendly lemurs before leaving for a bit of diving, where the underwater sites are perfectly preserved and the luxuriant coral is home to numerous species of fish and other marine animals. You will perhaps be lucky enough to see some dolphins and whales. After having asked, discover the traditional Madagascan cuisine at the Nosy Iranja Lodge.

Day 4

Nosy Iranja – Nosy Kalakajoro

Continue your cruise in the Radama archipelago by visiting Nosy Kalakajoro, popular with sailors for its protected beaches and its clear waters, which are good for diving and swimming. Diving enthusiasts will take advantage of the opportunity to take a trip to the island’s reefs, where they will discover amazing marine life, with notably rays, groupers and leopard sharks.

Day 5

Nosy Kalakajoro - Nosy Ovy – Nosy Antanimora

Departure for Nosy Ovy, part of the Radama archipelago. Take the time to visit the island’s interior to discover the royal tombs of Mahabo, perched on the hill, walk through the damp tropical forest, admire the exceptional flora and fauna, or visit a coffee plantation. The sky-blue waters which surround the island are ideal for diving with a snorkel, before heading towards Nosy Antanimora, where you will tie up for the night. To do: observe the inhabitants fishing and take a walk round the lagoon with its hypnotic sand. Visit one of the local restaurants, where you can eat fresh fish and enjoy real Madagascan hospitality.

Day 6

Nosy Antanimora – Baramahamay

Departure from Nosy Antanimora, heading for Baramahamay bay, 27 miles away. This superb river is surrounded by hills, lush mangroves, small beaches and coconut trees. Excellent dive sites. Visit the village of Marohariva, and buy some fish and some delicious mud crabs. Then enjoy a barbecue on the beach. Anchor for the night.

Day 7

Baramahamay – Nosy Be

Return to the base.



Getting there:

The charter bases are situated not far from Nosy Be airport, served directly from Paris by Air Madagascar. There is another international link to Johannesburg. The capital, Antanarive is 628 km (390 miles) away. The two towns are linked by a daily flight. Antanarive is connected to Paris by Air France and Corsair, Istanbul (Turkish Airlines), Bangkok (Air Madagascar), Nairobi (Kenya Airways), Hong Kong, Mayotte, Mauritius, Reunion, the Seychelles and the Comoros.


Valid passport + visa (at the entry airport).

Local currency: the ariary (1 Euro = 4,100 ariary; 1US Dollar = 3,640 ariary).

National language: Madagascan

Other official languages: French and English.

Health: usual vaccinations + anti-malarial treatment.


The most favorable months in Nosy Be are May, June, July, August, September and October. January is the wettest month. The ‘coolest’ months are August and September. The water is warm all the year round – 26 to 29°C (79-84°F). The amount of sunshine is excellent – more than 3,000 hours per year, but the rainfall is also generous, with 2,200 mm (87 inches) of water per year, as against 1,268 mm (50 in) in New York and 637 mm (25 in) in Paris. The risk of hurricanes in the area is considered to be high from November to mid-May.

Sailing conditions:

The synoptic wind is generally quite light – 6 to 8 knots on average, and rarely more than 15 knots – from the NE or WSW. The islands’ relief and the mountain range very close to Madagascar actually block the warm, moist north-westerly monsoon during the southern summer and the cooler, dry south-easterly trade winds the rest of the year. Local sea-breeze effects nevertheless allow some nice sailing in the afternoons. The water is well protected from the swell – except during tropical storms and hurricanes.

The local charter companies:

The main multihull fleets: Madavoile, based locally since 1998, offers 6 catamarans, from 38 to 47 feet. Dream Yacht Charter is also present in Nosy Be, with 3 catamarans. The destination is of course offered by numerous charter brokers.

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