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Africa, Madagascar, The Nomadic Life

Going Coastal in Mahajunga, Madagascar

People on the road to MahajungaOn the Road North…
One of the most incredible features of this country are the drastic transformations the landscape, culture, people, and everything undergo in just a few hundred kilometers. Driving north from Madagascar’s capital, the rolling highlands and boulder dotted landscape gradually give way to forests of palm trees, thatch-roofed huts, bursts of tropical vegetation, and eventually, beach. A few hours into the drive I stop seeing the Asian-featured Merina tribe of the highlands, bundled in sweaters and conservative dress. Instead the women walking next to the road casually drape themselves with loose-fitting lamba, or sarong-like pieces of cloth while their children run around naked or in nothing but their underwear. By the time we reach Mevatanana, it has become far too hot for anyone to wear much more than that. Fruits become more tropical, and at some point I notice the large grass-woven baskets of mangoes, coconuts, and bananas women are carrying on their heads and salivatingly begin to daydream of sipping coconut juice on the beach.

After twelve hours on a bus, we arrived in the muggy, coastal city of Mahajunga, greeted with a cityscape of mosques, a roundabout with one of the widest baobab trees in Madagascar, and a salty ocean breeze.

Petite Plage and Cirque Rouge
On our first morning, we took a taxi-be, or bus, (500 Ariary; 20 minutes) from outside the Hotel de Ville towards la petite plage to lounge around in the ocean. As soon as we arrived, we headed to a French-run restaurant on the beach for beers and freshly caught shrimp the size of my hand. While we waited for our food, a couple of children amused themselves by posing for photos for me and shrieking with laughter as they competed to see how ridiculous they could make their faces. After lunch, we hiked for far too long to see the cirque rouge. However exhausting, meandering around the towering, red rocks made the hours-long trek along the beach worth it.

Returning back from the Cirque Rouge, the two friends I had trailed off with and I re-discovered the rest of our group (who had given up on the walk to cirque rouge) splashing in the waves and making friends with yet another French restaurant owner. Totally unanxious to return to the bustle of Mahajunga’s city center, we hunkered down with a couple of frosty beers again and watched the sun set. From the wooden patio, we could spot groups of local fishermen pulling in their sailboats full of the day’s catch. Chickens and dogs roamed the beach as the fishermen worked, making the beach feel more like an extension of everyday life than an exotic getaway.

La Petite PlageLunch at La Petite PlageBig Shrimp at La Petite PlageChildren at La Petite PlageCirque RougeBringing in the evening's catchSunset on La Petite Plage

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About Jessie Beck

Vagabond in training.


139 thoughts on “Going Coastal in Mahajunga, Madagascar

  1. I will!

    The beaches in the south around Fort Dauphin are lovely too – see my picture on the Solo Traveller page on my site.


    Posted by tipsfortravellers | February 12, 2012, 11:36
  2. beautiful! hope I can make it there someday. Thanks for sharing.

    Posted by soyouwanna | January 23, 2012, 18:28
  3. Amazingly beautiful light in those shots of the boats

    Posted by rohanlewis | January 18, 2012, 20:17
  4. That is extremely beautiful! Hopefully Jake can travel their sometime soon. :)

    Posted by jaketravellingtheworld | January 16, 2012, 10:03
    • Madagascar is an amazing place – my plan is to return later this year. I go back to the southern part of the country again – visiting with my friends at alefamadagascar.wordpress.com

      (A couple of the shots on my site were taken in Madagascar – a couple of the beaches)

      Posted by tipsfortravellers | January 17, 2012, 13:36
  5. The smile of the kids are priceless!

    Posted by rainbow painter | January 11, 2012, 19:17
  6. Madagascar is one of the greatest place for animal lovers. have you seen those great lemurs?

    Posted by Amit | January 11, 2012, 06:45
  7. Inspiring and colorful photographs!

    Posted by leahgraceobrien | January 10, 2012, 09:40
  8. The shrimps look amazing!

    Posted by different types of stirrups | January 10, 2012, 09:06
  9. Nice post, nice pics, nice food, nice coastal, :D
    Really enjoyable to see these beautiful pics. Thx for your sharing.

    Posted by John Cho | January 10, 2012, 00:45
  10. Thanks for letting us travel along with you. Great photos and travelogue!

    Posted by Dena Weigel Bell | January 9, 2012, 22:25
  11. Those are so good! Great post and sensational photos!!

    Posted by That EJ | January 9, 2012, 21:22
  12. These pictures are just amazing! Your description of the transformation of the people along your route is incredible – I can hardly imagine that kind of diversity. Thanks for sharing.

    Posted by Moving Mama | January 9, 2012, 17:46
  13. Great bolg and these photos are amazing!

    Posted by mexicrave | January 9, 2012, 16:46
  14. i like your eye on people,.. it gives the photo its natural sense and it looks so alive,..

    Posted by maskoman | January 9, 2012, 15:23
  15. It looks sooo nice and warm there. Why am I currently in a desert in Africa and freezing??! :P Also, love the boat pics!

    Posted by mem | January 9, 2012, 14:10
  16. I like to move it, move it!!!!!

    Posted by Sisterhood of the Traveling Military Pants | January 9, 2012, 13:11
  17. I LOOOOVE the photo of the two kids!!! I really do.

    Posted by Emily He | January 9, 2012, 09:39
  18. Nice photos. Makes me want to go there… But alas, I wanted to go there anyway. Happy travels…

    Posted by patryantravels | January 9, 2012, 09:31
  19. These are beautiful photos…

    Posted by myzuriart | January 9, 2012, 09:20
  20. Lived in Madagascar as a kid- looking forward to more pictures!

    Posted by MiriamZambranoRD | January 9, 2012, 09:12
  21. That last shot is sooo cool!

    Posted by The Hook | January 9, 2012, 08:34
  22. My daughter is OBSESSED with lemurs and Madagascar wildlife (except for fossas:). Her dream is to work as an animal scientist in Madagascar- I can’t wait to show her your pictures!

    Posted by kidworldcitizen | January 9, 2012, 07:45
  23. great photos!

    Posted by madisoncary | January 9, 2012, 07:05
  24. Hi!,nice to see a “vazaha” blogging on Madagascar. I´m glad you´re enjoying it there. Next time I´ll go to Majunga too. Veloma !

    Posted by madakanto | January 9, 2012, 06:22
  25. Gorgeous photos. And those kids are so cute. I don’t eat seafood, but that food looks delicious and so fresh.

    Posted by moderatechristian | January 9, 2012, 01:35
  26. Very common and natural photographs. I love the way of your photography.

    Posted by Rosy | January 8, 2012, 23:50
  27. nice place, nice people,

    Posted by another side of indonesia | January 8, 2012, 22:33
  28. perfect post…like it

    Posted by handcraftedsoap | January 8, 2012, 19:38
  29. lovely! the pics are great!

    Posted by Somesh Mahanty | January 8, 2012, 19:19
  30. i love your blog especially the pics which really portrays a lot

    Posted by boyalasco | January 8, 2012, 19:10
  31. The look of the face of those kids was priceless. Lovely pics. Must hav been a wonderful exp.

    Posted by shil | January 8, 2012, 18:43
  32. wonderful photographs! Go on.

    Posted by keshavdubey | January 8, 2012, 16:33
  33. Amazing experience you are having! Enjoy!

    Posted by sobeit | January 8, 2012, 15:48
  34. Great photos. They reminded me of a trip I took to Thailand. Thanks for sharing.

    Posted by Honie Briggs | January 8, 2012, 15:29
  35. stunning- cute kids

    Posted by framethem | January 8, 2012, 13:53
  36. Looks fantastic! Thank you for the pictures, amazing. Hoping to visit Madagascar one day!

    Posted by Nathan Evans | January 8, 2012, 13:06
  37. A Freshly Pressed that truly warmed my heart. How so? Those beautiful smiles on those children’s faces. Congrats on FP. Madagascar was a place that was on the list of places to go but closer to the bottom. It has moved up a few slots.

    Posted by GoodbyeNavi | January 8, 2012, 12:19
  38. We live in Madagascar, but are visiting South Africa at the moment and stumbled on your blog. The photo’s are stunning and reminded us of home.

    Posted by lynettemadanews | January 8, 2012, 11:56
  39. Great pics! Thanks for sharing your travels with us!

    Posted by Pamanner | January 8, 2012, 11:50
  40. See the world while you’re able to do so, because it is difficult to escape from the prison planet! Thanks for sharing Madagascar with us! http://www.blogpilgrim.wordpress.com

    Posted by blogpilgrim | January 8, 2012, 10:35
  41. wonderful


    Posted by backlinkspoint | January 8, 2012, 10:13
  42. Great post about a little known destination!

    - Courtney Mara

    Posted by Courtney Mara | January 8, 2012, 09:40
  43. Those are splendid photographs! You are one lucky person to have gone there!

    Posted by Ryan | January 8, 2012, 09:40
  44. I always love when photography makes me smile.

    Posted by UrbanJungleFashion | January 8, 2012, 09:39
  45. Thank you for sharing. The photographs are especially amazing – you have a wonderful eye!

    Posted by taraerin | January 8, 2012, 08:36
  46. Wow! Beautiful photos and country.

    Posted by Joe Labriola | January 8, 2012, 08:15
  47. Amazing photography! I went to Madagascar a couple of years ago, it’s such a beautiful and colourful country…

    Posted by V | January 8, 2012, 07:47
  48. Great post and nice photos, enjoyed reading it.

    Posted by Chaks | January 8, 2012, 07:37
  49. What great shots! I felt as though I was there, walking in the sand, playing with the children. Thanks for bringing such beauty to my day.

    Posted by seekingmonsieur | January 8, 2012, 07:19
  50. The last one is Excellent ! Amazing photography :)
    Those colors pull me into them .. wow :)

    Posted by srinivasan | January 8, 2012, 04:57
  51. Madagascar….a place I have dreamed of visiting. The photo of the two children and the one of the boot are my favorites…
    The shrimp looks delectable!!!
    Did you catch any photos of insects, birds, flora? If so, please share. Thanks a bunch!

    Posted by whenquiet | January 8, 2012, 04:07
  52. Thats so lovely, i need to go there one day!

    Posted by miihasphoto | January 8, 2012, 03:56
  53. Wonderful images and wonderful travel! You’ve captured some of life’s small, but infinitely bright moments here. Great work and all the best in the future!

    Posted by everyonelovesacookie | January 8, 2012, 02:30
  54. Hey your photos are really beautiful.
    Greetings from A Going To Be Nomad..

    Posted by Konarak | January 8, 2012, 00:49
  55. Your photos are really beautiful. Happy Travelling.
    Greetings from a Going To Be Nomad.

    Posted by Konarak | January 8, 2012, 00:47
  56. i love your postcard-like photos.. nice shots.

    Posted by starlight | January 7, 2012, 22:22
  57. Excellent photography! I love the richness of color, and the shadows, especially in the last ones…


    Posted by shnapshooter | January 7, 2012, 21:06
  58. Amazing Experience and Tripp..Wish I could get it someday…Greetings from Indonesia….Firmansyah SW.

    Posted by Firmansyah SW | January 7, 2012, 20:25
  59. Thanks for the beauty photos and for sharing your journey.

    Posted by aFrankAngle | January 7, 2012, 17:14
  60. Wow Fantastic

    Posted by mico santos | January 7, 2012, 17:12
  61. Seeing those photos makes me wanna throw on my backpack and hit the road. What the f— am I doing in NYC?! You go, dude!

    Posted by lipstickandplaydates | January 7, 2012, 16:43
  62. Love it. Beautiful pictures.

    Posted by Mohammad Hanafi | January 7, 2012, 15:50
  63. Beautiful photos … I love your eye for people and places ! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed – hope to see you out on the road sometime!

    Posted by Betty Londergan | January 7, 2012, 14:43
  64. Wow great pictueres i also really like the way thw light comes in. Nice!

    Posted by wordsandtheworld | January 7, 2012, 13:30
  65. Nice pictures!

    Posted by Shelly Liu Photography | January 7, 2012, 13:05
  66. Awesome photos and scenes!

    Posted by chasingtimemedia | January 7, 2012, 12:13
  67. Great post, love the photos

    Posted by oliverjohn | January 7, 2012, 10:56
  68. Gorgeous photos! Madagascar now officially goes on the list of countries I need to get to. Thanks for sharing.
    Happy New Year,

    Posted by jessinbelgium | January 7, 2012, 10:37
  69. What beautiful photos – it made me really miss Madagascar, the people, the ocean and the pirogues.

    Posted by Ruth Rosselson | January 7, 2012, 10:13
  70. I love the picture of the kiddos!

    Posted by Magnet for Foolishness | January 7, 2012, 10:00
  71. Love the boat shots, and the photo of those kids is absolutely priceless. My dream is to go to Madagascar someday. Glad I found you in Freshly Pressed!

    Posted by Kara | January 7, 2012, 09:11
  72. Awesome shots! Really adorable kids and I love the shots by the shore! :)

    Posted by Grace Cadenilla | January 7, 2012, 08:10
  73. LOve the picture of the children so much.. their expression is wonderful!!

    Posted by indonesiabestplaces | January 7, 2012, 07:35
  74. The kids are awesome!

    Posted by EllMac | January 7, 2012, 07:07
  75. These are beautiful photos. I love seeing how people live in other parts of the world.

    Posted by Bethany Pegues | January 7, 2012, 06:43
  76. great !!!!

    Posted by Stulang Laut | January 7, 2012, 06:36
  77. Beau-ti-ful! I love the pics of the kids. Isn’t it amazing how kids are the same no matter where they are? Great job.

    Posted by Red Toenails | January 7, 2012, 04:20
  78. niceee photo……………….

    Posted by shah | January 7, 2012, 03:11
  79. These are wonderful images especially the children shots. Nice photography.

    Posted by Geoff | January 7, 2012, 00:38
  80. absolute fantastic shots, love them!!!

    Posted by xandimusic | January 7, 2012, 00:35
  81. Nice post…

    Posted by HtmLinking.com | January 7, 2012, 00:20
  82. Trustworthy boats.

    Posted by Andreas Moser | January 7, 2012, 00:04
  83. Loved the kids picture.. an amazingly great shot :)

    Posted by n0ts0creative | January 6, 2012, 22:55
  84. brilliant shots. The prawns look wonderful

    Posted by gaycarboys | January 6, 2012, 21:24
  85. Sounds incredible. I’d love to travel one day… there are so many beautiful places to see.. great post and pics! Thanks for sharing :)

    Posted by LadyT | January 6, 2012, 21:07
  86. I enjoyed your descriptions and photos–am going to visit Madagascar in a few weeks, so will have those images in my mind. Thanks! and congrats on being FP

    Posted by The Meandering Matriarch | January 6, 2012, 20:34
  87. nice seniro and seas…i like that boat…

    Posted by Chamling Rai | January 6, 2012, 20:03
  88. Beautiful.

    Posted by oleester | January 6, 2012, 20:03
  89. awesome places and people…..

    Posted by Chamling Rai | January 6, 2012, 20:02
  90. wow!what a nice village…

    Posted by Chamling Rai | January 6, 2012, 20:01
  91. i wish to go there an see once.

    Posted by Chamling Rai | January 6, 2012, 20:01
  92. This is really nice………………….

    Posted by Chamling Rai | January 6, 2012, 20:00
  93. stunning photographs!

    Posted by Lulu | January 6, 2012, 19:36
  94. Awesome pictures! They’re stunning. Look how happy those kids are.

    Posted by Ziane | January 6, 2012, 19:19
  95. Wonderful photos! I wish that I could have enjoyed that meal!

    Posted by ephesus431 | January 6, 2012, 18:37
  96. Oh wow!!!

    Posted by Angelene @Languages Of Art | January 6, 2012, 18:33
  97. Nice shots! Those shrimp are huge! Congrats on being FP!

    Posted by Harold | January 6, 2012, 18:08
  98. Lovely images! Used to live in Madagascar, and these took me back in time! Thanks… and congrats on being freshly pressed!

    Posted by humilityjoy | January 6, 2012, 18:03
  99. You write well and are a good photographer. I am a world traveller and also a good travel writer and photographer. Maybe if you are ever in eastern Australia, we could meet up. my website is http://www.lifestylerenewal.com and have written a 700 page book in eight volumes called “Travel in a changing world”

    Posted by Gerard | January 6, 2012, 17:50
  100. Your photos are amazing! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    Posted by Lori Franks | January 6, 2012, 17:23
  101. I like the picture…

    Posted by indri | January 6, 2012, 17:19
  102. I like picture

    Posted by indri | January 6, 2012, 17:18
  103. Great photos, well done!

    Posted by Jack Watson | January 6, 2012, 16:27
  104. food photos are amazing and want to eat some sea food right now, thanks

    Posted by DT | January 6, 2012, 15:39
  105. These images are amazing. I hope to make it here someday. :)

    Posted by Heather C.J. Atkins | January 6, 2012, 13:50
  106. Muito bonitas suas fotos e o lugar

    Posted by Irene | January 6, 2012, 13:39
  107. Beautiful photos. I Love how you “find” the light. great Eye :)
    Happy traveling!

    Posted by shawnandsuzanne | January 6, 2012, 13:25
  108. You’ve got beach, beer, boat – food and fun. Can’t get better. You photography is great & equally great is the picks for this post.

    Posted by Yatin | January 6, 2012, 13:25
  109. You’ve captured some beautiful shots. Love the color in your photos.

    Posted by Romantic Asian Guy | January 6, 2012, 13:08
  110. Amazing photos!

    Posted by Mike | January 6, 2012, 13:03
  111. If i see this pictures i like to go back to Madagascar

    Posted by meinereisen2012 | January 6, 2012, 12:43
  112. Your blog is amazing and the photos show great detail! Some day I wouldn’t mine visiting !

    Posted by sweetopiagirl | January 6, 2012, 12:40
  113. This post looks and sounds incredible! My husband and I hope to travel to some of these destinations on service trips in the near future. This gives us a good idea of what different areas are like-Thank you!

    Posted by mrsmamablack | January 6, 2012, 12:19
  114. Your photos are amazing! It really captures the essence of the place.

    Posted by Arianne Edwards | January 6, 2012, 12:16
  115. It’s amazing how the people are wearing no shoes. Looks nice and warm there. Thanks for sharing this.

    Posted by Constance V. Walden | January 6, 2012, 12:04
  116. Beautiful shot! Great light.

    Posted by Eden | January 6, 2012, 11:42
  117. Your pictures are gorgeous, and those kids are so cute I want to eat them with a spoon!

    Posted by Rae | January 6, 2012, 11:13
  118. Stunning pictures — those children are absolutely ADORABLE!


    Posted by Mikalee Byerman | January 6, 2012, 10:53
  119. Fantastic shots and beautiful sights. Thanks for sharing and congrats on being freshly pressed!

    Posted by Dounia | January 6, 2012, 10:47
  120. looks amazing. hope all is well

    Posted by Traveling far. Standing still. | January 5, 2012, 04:58


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