Vohemar to Sambava by bike

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Vohemar to Sambava is a 150km bike route with stunning scenery the entire way. Except for a few hills, it's mostly flat and straight biking on a tarred road in excellent condition with the odd potholes which are more a nuisance for cars than for bikes. Every few kilometres there's a small village with friendly locals greeting bypassers.

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There are virtually no tourists here, although this will change in coming years once the often impassable part of the RN5a between Ambilobe and Vohemar is being completed. Meanwhile, the area and its main road remain isolated from the rest of the country.

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The traffic is minimal during the rainy season from December to June and only a few crowded taxi-brousses and freight-trucks pass throughout the day, making it relatively safe for the odd reptile to cross the road.

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Unless you are on a racing bike with light luggage, this journey is fastest done over two days, including a stay-over in the village of Mazava shortly after Ampanefena.

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Alternatively, for those who prefer to split the journey into three parts, divert to Bobangira Park over half-way to Ampanefena and camp for a night on an empty beach under the stars. This will add another 34 kilometres along a dirt-road partly through forest to reach the coast and back to the main road again.

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Mazava is an unknown village four kilometres south of Ampanefena and halfway between Vohemar and Sambava. As of 2020, none of the four hotels in Ampanefena offers particularly good value accommodation and so the best option is a stay at Maison Zaza in Mazava where vanilla farmers Mr and Mrs Zaza rent out five bungalows on their property, two of which have a panoramic view of the surrounding landscapes.

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The stretch after Mazava starts off with a couple of uphills and rewarding downhills with especially beautiful mountains until Antsirabe-Nord.

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Closer to Sambava is Bemarivo, the river where much vanilla, coffee, pepper, cacao and cloves are cultivated along the river banks. Upstream, Ambohibe mountain can be seen in the distance.

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Shortly before reaching the centre of Sambava, Mimi Resto makes a good stop to plan the next days, whether biking further to Antalaha or Marojejy National Park. The tourist office for the SAVA region is located in the same building, where much information about Marojejy is available including the sale of entry tickets, organisation of guides etc.

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Accommodation

This bike trip can be booked with Madabike with or without an accompanying guide via the tourist office at Hotel Resto Mimi.