The provincial capital, Antseranana (formerly Diégo Suarez) is a 2 hour flight from Tana (via Nosy Be). It is a cosmopolitan seaport overlooking a beautiful gulf at the northernmost tip of the island. Diego-Suarez is situated in an exceptional site, at the bottom of an internal sea formed by the Bays of the French, of Thunder, of White Stones and by the Gallois cul-de-sac. At either side of this "sea" and its Sugar Loaf mountain, the two other seas, the Indian Ocean and the Mozambique Channel, meet. There are many lakes, waterfalls and grottoes in the rainforests above the port. Wildlife and flora includes lemurs, crocodiles and orchids. The road southwards to the capital is only open between July and October.
Amber Mountain National Park
45Km (1 hour drive) from Antseranana , established as Madagascar’s first national park in 1958, Amber Mountain National Park (Montagne d’Ambre) is one of Madagascar’s most attractive and scenic parks, and a green oasis in the far north of the island. The thick, lush rainforest comprises an extinct volcano and associated crater lakes, picturesque waterfalls, and varied flora and fauna in the park. It derives its name from the resin that oozes from some of its trees, a few of which reach 40m.
Rising from 850mm to 1475 m above the surrounding dry savanna, this isolated patch of montane rainforest is one of the rainiest parts of Madagascar, receiving over 3500mm of precipitation annually whereas nearby Diego Suarez receives only about 900 mm rain per year.
Residents are Sanfords Brown Lemur, Crowned Lemur, Amber Mountain Fork-Marked Sportive Lemur, northern sportive lemur, and the diminutive nocturnal Brown Mouse Lemur, and even the northern ring tailed mongoose and fosa. Birds of the area include the endemic Amber mountain rock-thrush, Pitta-like ground roller, Madagascan magpie robin, Madagascan white-throated rail, White-throated oxylabes, Spectacled greenbul, Hook-bill vanga, Madagascar crested ibis, Malagasy kingfisher, Madagascar blue pigeon, forest rock-thrush, broad-billed roller, among so many other bird species
The park has a particularly rich and impressive
herpetofauna which includes many species
of chameleon, snake, skink and frog. Three
of the leaf-tailed geckos, Uroplatus, occur
here, as well as two day geckos. This ecologically
rich region is noted for its tree ferns,
lianas, and orchids (which flower in September
The gateway to Montagne d'Ambre, Joffreville (a.k.a. Ambohitra), was a hill station at the time of the colony, and affords lovely views of the coast below: on a clear day, one can see the Mozambique Channel to the West, Antsiranana/Diego-Suarez and the Emerald Sea to the North, and the Indian Ocean to the East.