Vohemar (Iharana)

Vohemar, also referred to as Iharana, is the northernmost town in Madagascar’s north-eastern SAVA region. It is located right at the Indian ocean and vast Iharana bay which is subjected to the tides. Historically, Vohemar seems to be one of Madagascar´s oldest settlements, if not the oldest, where Swahili merchants installed a port for trading as early as in the 13th century. Today, Vohemar has between 20.000 and 30.000 inhabitants who make it a lively little town hoping for a better future and many visitors. Because over the course of the last at least five years, the Chinese have constructed a new road connecting Vohemar at the east coast with Ambilobe at the National Road RN 6 in the west, replacing one of the most feared dirt roads of the island. In the past, it could have taken three or even more days to reach Vohemar from Ambilobe, which is now reduced to a couple of hours. That said, SAVA region is no longer isolated from the rest of the country. Continue…

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Bobangira

If you are looking for a last unspoilt piece of paradise, it is unavoidable to come across Bobangira, even though there are only few people right now who know about that place. The local residents for sure, some expats, and a few adventurous travellers who came upon the name accidentally and were open enough to ask for a chance to go there, just like in our case. While hiking in the rainforest of Marojejy mountains, we were told about Bobangira by our guide Yockno, the president of the regional guide´s association. And instead of staying in the montane forests and visiting Anjanaharibe-Sud Special Reserve south of Marojejy National Park, we decided to give Bobangira a try. Continue…

Marojejy

A good 60 km southwest of Sambava lies Marojejy National Park in the eponymous Massif de Marojejy, a mountain range with its highest point at 2.132 m altitude. Those mountains are covered by dense rainforest as well as montane rainforest and cloud forest on the higher levels, and the forest is one of the top hotspots of biodiversity left on our ravaged planet. The national park protects more than 55.000 ha of it and has been gazetted in 1998 after already being a protected area since 1952. In 2007, it has been declared world heritage site by UNESCO as a part of the Antsinanana rainforests. Continue…

Domaine d’Ambohimanitra

Domaine d’Ambohimanitra is a vanilla plantation 50 km south of Sambava, only a stone´s throw from the Indian ocean, and the name means “hill of perfume”. Not only do they produce vanilla for sale but also for educational as well as touristic purposes. They grow various types of vanilla, starting with Mexicaine, the original species from Latin America. Beyond vanilla, they also produce cloves, ravintsara, cinnamon and allspice. Continue…

Sambava

In Madagascar`s northeast lies the SAVA region, covering more than 25.000 km2, and the name SAVA derived from the four main cities Sambava, Antalaha, Vohemar and Andapa. From north to south, Vohemar, Sambava and Antalaha are the region´s seaside towns while Andapa is situated inland a good 100 km southwest of Sambava. The triangle between Sambava, Andapa and Antalaha produces more than half of the world´s vanilla which makes it the wealthiest region in Madagascar. Only up north around Vohemar, the climate is too dry for vanilla. This is the land of zebu cattle, and at the Andapa basin to where all the rivers from the surrounding mountains drain, a good share of the country´s rice is growing. Continue…

Coffee, cocoa, vanilla – Kaffee, Kakao, Vanille

This farmer on the eastern border of Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda experiments with mixed cultivation of coffee, cocoa beans and vanilla, all of the three being very valuable crops. The former soldier got the idea from Congolese farmers during Uganda´s engagement in the neighbouring country. The experiment is a success, and a good number of farmers from the community have joined him. Unfortunately, the most valuable vanilla pods get stolen regularily.

Dieser Farmer an der östlichen Grenze des Queen Elizabeth Nationalparks in Uganda experimentiert mit dem Mischkulturanbau von Kaffee, Kakaobohnen und Vanille, allesamt äußerst lohnende Waren. Der ehemalige Soldat hat die Idee von kongolesischen Farmern mitgebracht, mit denen er sich während des ugandischen Engagements im Nachbarstaat austauschen konnte. Das Experiment ist ein voller Erfolg, und viele der Farmer der Gemeinde haben sich ihm angeschlossen. Leider werden ihm die besonders wertvollen Vanilleschoten regelmäßig gestohlen.