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Ambanja is the capital town of the district by the same name in the northwest of Madagascar. The town is located along the beautiful Sambirano River, about 20 kilometres from the Mozambique Channel, southeast of Nosy Be island.

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Ambanja is the heart of the Sambirano region, which comprises the area along the course of the Sambirano River, from the Tsaratanana Massif down to Ampasindava Bay. The climate of the region is tropical with regular rainfall, providing ideal conditions for farming. The surroundings of Ambanja are characterised by many cacao plantations. About 60% of the population live from farming, and the most important crop is cacao. Other important crops include vanilla, ylang-ylang, coffee, pepper and rice. One of the largest cacao plantations in the area is the Millot Plantation.

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The town of Ambanja itself offers a few attractions. Near the northern entrance of the town there is a big partially open-air fruit, vegetable, meat, spice and just-about-everything marketplace. Along the town's main road a number of stalls sell second hand clothes, cooking equipment and other utensils. At the other end of the town is a smaller, roof-covered fruit market named Bazary Be. Bazary Be means large marketplace although it is the smaller of the two since it is the first. The second, larger market, is further extended with stalls and traders every Friday. A few minutes walk from Bazary Be a bridge crosses Sambirano.

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Ambanja is easily reached via Nosy Be, from where boats depart to Ankify harbour. From Ankify it is about 18km to Ambanja. A drive by taxi-brousse from Antananarivo to Ambanja takes between 18 and 24 hours or longer depending on the road condition.

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Bar / Restaurants

Cacao Bar
Tanambao Mission

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Accommodation in Ambanja

Palma Nova
Hotel - Bar - Restaurant
Tel: +261 (0)32 0461121 (mobile)

La Timoniere
Tel: +261 (0)20 8693532 or +261 (0)32 4117275 (mobile) or +261 (0)32 0237909

Hotel Patricia
Hotel - Bar - Restaurant
Tel: +261 (0)20 8650022

MG-203 Ambanja
Tel: +261 (0)20 8650240 or +261 (0)33 1487071 (mobile)

Khaïr Lodge
Tel: +261 (0)32 55 882 02 or +261 (0)34 69 446 41

Motel Diamant 10
Tel: +261 (0)20 8650259 or +261 (0)32 7305898 (mobile)

Hotel Marrakech - Chez Radia
Tel: +261 (0)32 5983100 (mobile) or +261 (0)34 1022815 (mobile) or +261 (0)33 1466233 (mobile)

Nord Inn Hotel
Tel: +261 (0)20 8693907 or +261 (0)34 8693907 (mobile)

Maeva Hotel

Other hotels with missing details (please add your comments, experiences):

Hôtel Bougainvilleas (or Bougainvillier), Sambirano (tel: +261 86 920 60), Chez Sachine, Le Cocotier, Salama Rose, Moderne, Le Roxy Hôtel Salama, Rose Hôtel (BP. 54 Ambaibo, Ambanja), Les Cocotiers Hôtel, Relax Hôtel Restaurant (BP. 25 Tsaramandroso, Ambanja), Flores, Kofmad, Le Palmier d'Or, Riviera.


  • Bazar Be - fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, spices
  • Tsaramandroso Market - everything from food to pods to bike repair
  • Second-hand market
  • New clothes market - mainly importet from China


Service Serenity Store
Ambanja centre

Tanambao Mission Ambanja

Surfing Zone
near the open fruit market

Map of Ambanja

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Transport to Ambanja

  • Trans Besady (Ambodivona/Antananarivo): +261 (0)34 56 072 01
  • Maki (Andohatapenaka/Antananarivo):

Additional information

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The region of Ambanja is famous for its colourful chameleons, often referrer to just as the Ambanja chameleon. Pictured above is an Ambanja Panther chameleon (Furcifer pardalis).