Monday, 1 November 2004

Ile Sainte Marie, Madagascar

Ile Sainte Marie is a small island about 60 km long and 7 or 8 km wide off the north east coast of Madagascar

In the Malagasy language the island is known as Nosy Boraha ("nosy" means "island").

Map of island
(black line = surfaced road)

We flew to Toamasina (Tamatave) from Reunion Island, stayed there overnight, then took a short one-hour domestic flight to Ile Sainte Marie. 

coming in to land

The airport is in the island's south, and our hotel, the Princess Bora, was quite close to the airport. Transfer to the hotel was on a zebu cart!

our airport>hotel transfer

room veranda

The island is quite well-known for humpback whale watching between June and September, however as we were there in October it was too late to see any. It's possible to scuba-dive all year round however.

There are only about 10 km of surfaced road on the whole island, so the best way of getting around is by bike (short distances), motorbike, or 4x4 for longer distances.

roadside view

One of the attractions of the island is an even smaller island to the south called Ile aux Nattes.

going to Ile aux nattes

A short boat hop across, it is an idyllic island with lush vegetation, no cars and basic accommodation and eating places. 

Ile aux Nattes vegetation

Ile aux Nattes

lighthouse, Ile aux Nattes (Madagascar's first)

view, Ile aux Nattes


We also saw some paracress growing there, which is a plant used in  Madagascar's national dish, romazava. Paracress is quite unusual as it has the particularly of numbing your mouth when you eat it.


We also saw some lemurs, an animal Madagascar is famous and unique for.

Lemur on Ile aux Nattes

Lemur on Ile Ste Marie

Ile Ste Marie used to be a famous site for pirates in the 17th  and 18th century, and apparently some of them are buried in a local cemetery.

Pirate cemetery

local children

All too soon it was time to leave and head back to  Reunion, but we would love to go back to Ile Ste Marie one day.

The first two images (the maps) of this article come from

Useful links about Ile Ste Marie:
Cetamada - Association for the protection of marine mammals around Madagascar

Sunday, 24 October 2004

2002 Eruption

The Piton de la Fournaise's most recent eruption ended on October 16th.

Here are some photos of the January 2002 eruption taken almost at sea level, where the lava had flowed down to.

seen from a distance

This particular eruption lasted twelve days, from January 5th-16th.

The photos were taken on January 27th.

The eruption started in the north-east of the Enclos Fouqué, which is one the volcano's most recent caldera and is 8 km wide.

In the photo below you can see part of the remparts on the right, which are the high cliffs forming the caldera's rim.

Reunion's volcano is over 530,000 years old.

Since the 1970s its activity has been monitored by the Piton de la Fournaise Observatory, part of the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, a governmental, non-profit research and higher education establishment, dedicated to the study of earth and planetary science.

Along with Etna, Stromboli and Kilauea, La Fournaise is one of the world's most active volcanoes. There are currently 500 active and 1511 potentially active volcanoes. The Smithsonian Global Volcanism Program's definition of 'active' is those who have erupted in the last 10 000 years.

on the beach

You can find webcams and up-to-date information in English about the volcano at the Reunion Island Geological Information Center.

See here for other posts about the volcano, including a list of its most recent eruptions.

Suggested reading:

Crags and Craters: Ramblers in the Island of Réunion by William Dudley Oliver recounts the author's six month visit to Reunion in 1895 and his many hikes, to the volcano amongst other places.