We arranged a day trip to Three Bays (Les Trois Baies) with Paradis du Nord by visiting the owner, Eric, at his office in Antsiranana (Diego Suarez). This is the same outfit we used for our visit to the Red Tsingy a few days earlier.
It turns out that all the agencies do the same route as we ran into the same pairs of tourists, each with their personal guide, at several spots along the way. Although you could do this route on your own, Eric explained that they’ve had robberies at the bays making a local guide necessary for security reasons. The would-be robbers know the local guides and won’t bother their clients. Sounded like extortion to me but I acquiesced. 260,000 ariary ($80 USD) for two including – a guide, car, driver and the entrance fees. Lunch was another 60,000 ariary for 2 ($18 USD) paid directly to the restaurant.
Sugarloaf Mountain Viewpoint
First stop is the viewpoint for the sacred mountain, Sugarloaf. Straight into the sun in the morning this spot has much better light on the way back to town at the end of the tour.
Baobab at French Mountain
The next stop before the bays is at French Mountain to see a rare type of baobab, Adansonia suarezensis.
Starting at Sakalava Bay we walk along the bays with our guide Eddy. The walk, mostly on well packed sand, passes by eroded limestone rock formations, clear tide pools with fish, and crabs running along the beach, quickly darting into the sand. The blue-green water and white sand beaches with an unfortunate amount of seaweed on some are scenic but not the pristine setting you might expect from the Lonely Planet description.
From Sakalava Bay to Pigeon Bay and on to Dune Bay really only takes about 1 and half hours going slowly. They budget 3 hours including a swim at Dune Bay, massage and/or shopping. Don and I just hung out under a tree, a perfect temperature with a soft breeze blowing.
Past the military base Cap Miné we head into Ramana for lunch. With narrow lanes of shabby corrugated metal buildings surrounded by stick fences, the restaurant is the only decent looking building in town and seems to be where all the tourists go for lunch. The high-ceilinged open air dining room has a pleasant garden setting.
The limited menu includes a choice of protein, served with salad, rice, pommes frites, and fruit for dessert. I was distracted by the visiting lemurs who had come to snatch a banana or two and didn’t take a shot of the beautifully grilled whole bream and shrimp in the shell. Both were just a tad over done but quite fresh.
The lemurs put on quite the show, jumping along the railing. The brazen creatures come right on to the tables. There were plenty of begging cats as well.
October 4, 2016
For links to all the posts in this series see the Madagascar page.