The town of Diego-Suarez Antsiranana, which we still name Diego-Suarez is located on a headland at the south of a splendid bay (the second of the world for its surface after that of Rio de Janeiro). Third port of Madagascar, the city counts 80,000 inhabitants approximately. The general architecture of the city recalls more than one half century of presence of the French Army. Military buildings, Hotel of the Navy, arsenal, arteries rectilinear and parallels are there to testify to this near past. Crossroads in charge of history, the city counts many communities for the majority commercial but in various origins: Yemenis, Somali, Comorians, Arabs, Chinese, Indo-Pakistani, French cohabit with the populations Antankarana and Sakalava.
On April 10th, 1500, the Portuguese navigator Diego-Diaz is the first European to discover the Big Island. He will baptize it “ Saint Laurent Island ” (of the holy of its arrival day). Little time afterwards, hewets in the bay which will take later the name of Diego-Suarez in his memory and that of Fernando Suarez who will pass there also in 1506. One century later, the French François Cauche on the way to Holy Luce made a halt there on June 26th, 1638. Then the French pirate Misson and an Italian priest named Caracciolo create at the end of the 17th century a republic “before hour” baptised “Libertalia” based on a principle of equality and opened to all without distinction of nationality. The community set up a defense system against possible English or French naval attacks. But in fact the autochtones destroyed the city by the inland.
By 1885, the town of Diego-Suarez passed under the control of France and then became more important thanks to the installation of the French navy, an arsenal and several barracks. The Foreign legion left the city in 1975, putting an end to a French presence of almost one century.
Diego-Suarez – City.
Third port of the island, Company of Constructions and Naval Repairs (SECREN), fishing season, brewery, tannery, canning facility, saltworks, rice mill, oil mill, soap factory, tourism…
The british cemetery.
Cemetery located downtown.
During the Second World War, the battle which opposed the French colonial forces, then on the side of the Vichy government, to the English forces which were imperatively to seize the strategic base of Diego-Suarez, claimed many victims. The majority were buried in Diego in a cemetery created for this purpose. The aligned white steles mention the identity and the age of these soldiers. The cemetery is maintained by a commission of the Commonwealth Countries.
The Sugarloaf islet
Rock islet of volcanic origin located in the South of Diego bay. It is seen on the road which leads to Ramena. Traditional ceremonies (fijoroana are ) there regularly practised.
The sugarloaf islet Diego-Suarez.
The Ramena beach(20 km).
Coconuts, traditional boxes of fishermen, boats and dugouts, nets in repairs, white sand, nothing misses to the picture of the “postcard” beach.
A nice place for the bathing, the fishing season and idleness.
The weekend, animation intensifies with the arrival of the families who come to picnic and to slacken. To go to Ramena we can travel by a taxi or the bus which ensures a route only Sunday.
The Emerald sea.
Site of an almost supernatural beauty. The low depth of water combined with a sandy floor gives a turquoise colour to this small inland sea.
To envisage to leave early the morning because it is difficult to pass at low tide to the false pass (very weak draft and coral potato at the surface of water). The fishermen of Ramena will have a pleasure of leading you there by their boat. (To well negotiate the price before…). Exit to avoid by agitated sea.
The Emerald sea.
The bay of the Dunes and the bay of the Pigeons.
A superb corner and very little attended. White sand beach. Road of Ramena to the km No 17, then junction in the direction of bay, tracks sandy.
The bay of Sakalava.
A bays linking each one beautiful than the last, turquoise sea lined with long white sandy beaches. Two nice small islands which we can reach low tide on foot. Often been windy, the bay of Sakalava is the place of predilection of the local “fun boarder” which are burst in good waves….
Access: Ramena road to the junction to the km No 13 then 5 km of sandy track.
The mountain of the French.
Baptized thus, because of the combat which opposed in 1942 the French colonial forces, then as regards Vichy government, to the English. On the heights of the mountain, vestiges of fortifications and dwellings testify to this military presence (old French Foreign Legion fort). Many caves on the heights can be in addition visited. A magnificent panorama opens on the city, the bay and its sugarloaf islet.
Access: To take the road in direction of Ramena, to the km No 9 km where a way on the right leads to the top. The single means is walk on foot (2 H of walk approximately) what leaves the leisure to appreciate the local vegetation (aloe, baobab trees, etc). During the rise, we cross a tunnel dug to hand of man who gives access the fort, (not to try to go down again by another way).
Toward he Amber cape.
The discovery of the sites in the north of Diego requires because of track conditions a 4×4, a motorcycle or why not a VTT. Certain bush taxis engage until the village of Ambodimanga. The track which carries out to the village of Antsisikala crosses a very picturesque calcareous relief (Chimneys of fairies). The splendid coast seems to have been jagged. We will notice along the track the imposing baobab trees. Food and home possible “at the inhabitant”, but better to envisage water and some food.
Located at approx. 15 km of Diégo-Suarez, the saltworks can be visited.
The bay of the Courrier and bay of Ampasindava. (approximately 30 km in the west).
Access by the asphalt road to the crossing of Antsahampano (on the right the track goes to the Amber Cape). Then to follow a track until Ampasindava, coastal small village located at the Southern end of bay where the beaches follow one another on about ten kilometers. From Ambodimanga served regularly by the bush taxi, a way allows to gain the North of the bay in a few two hours of walk and by the same occasion to go to “Windsor Castle”. Possibility of gaining the small island of Nosy Hara by canoe.
The bay of Courrier and bay of Ampasindava.
The Windsor Castle (approx.40 km in the North-West).
Important monolith which we can see of Diego (higher than the Eiffel Tower), from the top of its 391 m. The point of view is worth largely displacement. In the west, the blue of the channel of Mozambique and the two islets Nosy Hara and Nosy Hao, in the east of villages, the bay and the town of Diego, in North the point of the Amber Cape, in the South the bay of Courrier. Traces of fortification are still visible and testify to its occupation by the Forces of Vichy during the 2nd world war. The English got it during the release of Diego.
Diego-Suarez to Ambilobe (131 km).
RN 6. Good bituminized road.
There exists a bus station located at the south (road of Ankarana) and at the west (road of Pirotechnie). For most destinations, it is wise to hold his place beforehand.
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