Red Island Revival

Rock Climbing & Island Exploration

Jan 1, 2005
Outside Magazine

MADAGASCAR DAYS: table for two at Iranja; Ludden on Tsarabanjina; portaging the Sahatandra's Koma Falls;   

Gautier offers guests two climbing camps: one on the island of Nosy Hara, near the northern city of Antsiranana, featuring 100-foot cliffs rising from the beach; the other, Tsarasoa, three hours south of Fianarantsoa at the base of the 2,500-foot Tsarasoa wall. It was here that Gautier brought climber Lynn Hill and her all-woman crew to pioneer a new route in 1999. For nonclimbers, mountain biking, trekking, and paragliding are the best ways to enjoy these highlands.

South African expat Richard Walker's 18-bungalow masterpiece blends into the 54-acre island of Tsarabanjina—one of a dozen in the nearly uninhabited Mitsio archipelago, an hour and a half northeast by motor launch from the resort-island hub of Nosy Be. Beaches here are connected by a tide-carved lava shelf—an ideal jumping-off point for scuba diving, fishing, sailing, and wakeboarding. Tsarabanjina provides everything you need—and nothing you don't—for a vibe that's part decadence, part shipwreck fantasy.

Iranja—an hour and a half by boat southwest of Nosy Be—sits on what is surely among the world's most eye-catching landmasses: two islands connected by a mile-long ribbon of sand that submerges with the incoming tide. Twenty-nine bungalows—the largest with four wicker-furnished octagonal rooms—all overlook the ocean. On many nights, endangered hawksbill and green sea turtles crawl onto the beach to lay their eggs.

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