Madagascar (Sava Region)
One of the world’s most unique fishing and outdoors adventure destinations, the Ankavanana River is situated in the Sava region at the northeastern part of Madagascar. Each of the area’s major towns – Sambava, Antalaha, Vohemar, and Andapa – claims the title World Capital of Vanilla, a spice of which the region is the largest producer in the world, especially the highly sought after Bourbon Vanilla variety.
The economic importance of the vanilla cultivation in the Sava Region encouraged the reconstruction of the road that connects the towns, called the Route de la Vanille (The Vanilla Route) in the second half of 2005. However, due to the volatile fluctuations in the price of vanilla, in turn often caused by the dramatic cyclones occurring the southwestern Indian Ocean, many poor vanilla farmers in the Sava Region have periodically been forced to resort to the mostly illegal logging of ebony, palisander, and rosewood.
Formerly linking the interior of Andapa to the coast at Antalaha, the Ankavanana River is a vital artery of the green triangle, a region of dense forest, dotted with riverine villages along the way.
Location (from 14o 46′ 45″ S, 49o 41′ 31″ E to 14o 52′ 16″ S, 50o 15′ 56″ E)
Originating in the forested mountains south of Andapa, at an altitude of 714 m / 2,344 ft, the Ankavanana River quickly gains in strength thanks to many contributaries on its 125 km journey to the coast at Antalaha. The town can be reached by Air Madagascar, flying into the nearby Antsirabato Airport, which is about 530 km northeast of the capital Antananarivo.
View Ankavanana River in a larger map
Almost entirely built from local materials, the family-run Ankavana Lodge relies on solar power and responsible water use. Arrival at the lodge is an experience of travelling by car, on foot and pirogue to discover local village life.
The double-bedded bungalows have a private deck, toilet and bath room. Electricity is available from dusk until 23h00, there is enough space for a 3rd bed.
The lodge’s open main area is overlooking the gardens down to the river; meals with local delicacies are prepared on wood fire.
Activities include kayaking, learning to handle the traditional pirogue, bamboo rafting, fishing for river crabs and swimming.
Forest walks will take you on excursion from Sarahandrano village to the Vanilla concession, an encounter of local villagers and their lifestyle and tradition. Women pounding vegetables or grain, kids playing, some herding animals, men building a new hut, washing day on the river banks…
Ankavana Lodge supports the concept of responsible tourism by aiming to minimize possible negative impact in an area of very little exposure to visitors. The authenticity of human contact, relationships, discussions, and good humor, shared between visitors and villagers, are worth being preserved.
The goal of tourism in this remote location is to value the rich natural and cultural heritage of its people, and to create, directly and indirectly, economic alternatives in order to prevent deforestation caused by small scale rice cultures.
With an overall limitation to 9 guests, small parties of 4 to 6 visitors will be the preferred number, affording an unrivaled experience to explore and participate in local life.