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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, almost daily rainfall, providing ideal conditions for farming. The surroundings of Ambanja are characterised by many lush green 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 biggest cacao plantations in the area is the Millot Plantation.

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The town of Ambanja itself offers only a few attractions. Near the northern entrance of the town there is a big open-air fruit market. Along the town's main road a vast number of stalls are set up, selling second hand clothes, cooking equipment and other useful things. At the other end of the town is a smaller, roof-covered fruit market (Bazar Be) just next to the taxi-brousse station. A few minutes walk from there a bridge leads over the wide Sambirano River.

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Ambanja is best 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. The car ride from Ambanja to Diego Suarez (Antsiranana) (240km) along the RN6 takes between 3 and 4 hours.

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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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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).