Max, the lodge owner, has been living on the island for more than 20 years with his family. He is a diving instructor and expert on the seabed and participated in documentaries on whale watching. Being a member of the Megaptera Association and he is involved in the project for the preservation of sea turtles, with the partnership of WCS Association (Wild Conservation Society).
Ankazoberavina is a tiny island paradise covered in the dense tropical forest just one-hour speedboat trip from Nosy Be. This island has so much to offer such as snorkelling near-pristine coral reefs, watching turtles lay their eggs on the sandy beach, lemurs, chameleons and the extremely rare Madagascan Fish Eagles. Ankazoberavina (the island of ‘big leaves’) is definitely not your standard luxury island resort holiday but caters to a much simpler ‘back to nature’ experience. There is the famous Chumbe Island located off the coast of Zanzibar.
As you arrive by boat, you’ll have to look carefully to see the eight wooden bungalows peering out from the trees lining the sandy beach. This lodge lies at the foot of a hillside covered in luxuriant tropical forest with gorgeous Traveller’s Palms (the national symbol of Madagascar). The beaches are fringed with black volcanic rock formations and the sand littered with shells and pieces of coral. This is a true getaway. As it is known for its more rugged terrain, swimming here in front of the bungalows are enjoyed with reef shoes as the rocky bottom may cause injuries. When the tide is very low, making the beach in front of the lodge disappears, they will take guests, by boat, to the nearby Antsoha Island.
Just because Ankazoberavina the peaceful and quiet natural surroundings, does not mean that there is nothing to do on the island. The snorkelling around the island is especially good, particularly of the ‘black beaches’ on the other side of the island where there are fantastic coral formations and prolific fish surrounded by clouds of colourful tropical fish. Ankazoberavina also has its own dive centre and their friendly manager, Max, is a qualified dive instructor so keen scuba divers are in their element.
The lodge also has kayaks in which you can paddle yourself around the island or perhaps explore the mangrove inlet at high tide. Further out to sea, there is excellent deep-sea fishing in the sea around Nosy Be. The range of excursions available from Ankazoberavina will keep you busy for a while. One option is to take a boat trip for the day, accompanied by a delicious picnic lunch prepared by the chef, to Nosy Tanikely and Nosy Komba (outstanding snorkelling and swimming with turtles at the former, shopping for crafts at a local market and lemur encounters at the latter). A second option is a trip to Nosy Iranja where Gustav Eiffel designed a famous island lighthouse and experience the sandbar that appears at low tide connecting the two islands that make up Nosy Iranja.
After all of all the exploring, you can go back to your bungalow to relax in the hammock on the deck. The bungalows also boast a small upstairs mezzanine floor perfect for kids to sleep. There are no lights outside as they could disorientate the turtles that regularly make their way up the sandy beach to lay their eggs. Guests are given torches to light the path back to their rooms after dinner.
When you need a bit of TLC, enjoy a relaxing massage in the small massage hut overlooking the beach, or chill out on the large rosewood deck that surrounds the lodge’s bar/restaurant and library area under the shade of some badannier trees. Later in the day, take your drink up the hill and enjoy a sundowner on the lookout deck perched at the top where you can gaze out upon the spectacular sunsets. After making your way down (keeping an eye out on the way for the resident lemurs) you’ll no doubt be ready for dinner (all of your meals are included at Ankazoberavina). The Italian ownership and clientele expect some delicious Italian influenced dishes.
Ankazoberavina Ecolodge has 8 bungalows consisting of;
The restaurant overlooks the sea from a large deck in the shade of a giant Badannier tree. Chef Paul and his assistants will create recipes that entice your taste buds with the freshly caught fish. If you need to arrange a special occasion, the staff can organise a dinner on the beach for you.
The island has never had any settled inhabitants in the surrounding villages. Ankazoberavina is a holy place with a big black rock on the beach and a tree in a small fenced area. The nearby villagers perform a religious ceremony of the commemoration of the ancestors with songs, offers of gifts, shedding of rum and cleaning up the soil around the sacred tree.