21 October 2017

The Millot plantation, Madagascar

Ambanja, Madagascar

Day trip From Nosy Be to Ambanja




Contrary to what I expected, Madagascar had plenty of options. I thought it was just beach and animals same like in the famous cartoon but it offered much more. I flew from Milan to Nosy Be with air Italy and I had previously planned to stay around only the Nosy Be area because the public transport didn’t seem easy. Once in Nosy Be, I understood that with someone’s (native born) help it would have been possible reaching the mainland Madagascar by boat (Nosy Be to Ankify) and that sounded really very interesting because on the other side there was much more than a beach life. The public ferry to Ankify (the arrival port at the mother island side) cost 1000 ari ari and the private speedboats around 80.000 ari ari. In this case, you pay for the boat and not for the person. So groups better travel privately. As my taxi driver was there to help me out I bought the ticket for the public ferry. At that moment it wouldn’t have been possible for me self-managing the situation because they handled the embarkation very chaotically and especially I couldn’t speak their language and no one there seemed wanting to speak English. Ankify was just 30 minutes of sailing distance from Nosy Be and since I was so determined to cross the bay I didn’t want to give up. Once in Ankify, it hasn’t been difficult to catch a taxi (not more than 20 minutes) towards Ambanja, the city of my destination.

There was only one cocoa producing area in Madagascar: Ambanja, in the north of the mother Island of Madagascar. The leading producer was the Millot Plantation. They owned hectares and hectares of land where entire villages were living and working. They didn't handle only cocoa but also spices and essential oils, especially ylang-ylang (the fragrance used for Channel number 5 perfume). Marlene, our guide, the owner’s wife, was from Cameroon. She spoke good English and French. She was very informative and an interesting woman. During the visit, she explained how each plant is grown, picked and processed. There were more than 1000 employers working there, most of them were women. At the beginning of the visit, she told us to ask always the employers before taking photos of them. I didn't really understand if it was whether a form of respect towards them or because Marlene herself didn't like photos at her property and therefore used them as a shield. As many of them lived inside the plantation we could also see huts with daily life going on. Cacao arrived on the island as seedlings from Venezuela 100 years ago! From the Venezuelan one, they have later developed their own flavour: there are now three types of cacao cultivated in Millot who were responsible for the drying and fermenting of the bean that is produced in this area. The Millot plantation started producing cacao in the 1920s and it was famous for its fine flavored beans which are used by some of the most well-known chocolate makers. The plantation was open to visitors (€ 10.00) and it is often listed as one of the world’s top cocoa plantations. 




Because the plantation spreads over 15 sq. km, we needed a vehicle during the guided tour. I had mine with the driver and the ones who didn’t have their own vehicle, had to hire one at the plantation itself. After the tour, I decided to sleep and dine in their wonderful farmhouse in the heart of the cocoa plantation, Maison du Planteur B&B for a reasonable price. (Lunch and Plantation visit € 25.00, B&B € 20.00). Seemed that the Millot supported a primary school attended by the children of their employers. I highly recommend a stay with Marlene, she was such an interesting person. I wondered asking her during my stay how much they earn from the plantation and she answered me: I earn as much as enough to pay all my employers well and to give a decent life to my family!!! She was a strong woman with a great personality and I have brought home something from her that I will never forget: I never quarrel with the ones I love because they are a gift from heaven she told me at the end! Sadly most of the tourists I met in Madagascar ended up their vacation inside the big resorts in Nosy Be, without even knowing that the journey from Nosy Be to Ambanja was very short.



The day after, on my way back to Nosy Be, due to the breakdown of the public ferry I had to travel by the private speedboat. I tried to Negotiate but they didn't change the price even if I begged for long. As soon as they got the money from me (80.000 ari ari) they started to load up the boat with the locals as well, asking them 1000 ari ari each. They at least should have travelled free because I have already paid the amount for the full travel service. Or otherwise, they should have asked me less, discounting what they had been able to collect from others. Most of the locals travelling with me were girls (young prostitutes) going from the mainland for their night duty in Ambatoloaka. If you want to avoid travelling with them make sure to ask the boatman before paying him, or even better if you pay at the arrival. In case instead you make the crossing with the public ferry, you should get back to Nosy Be just after the lunch to avoid the girls.

Join the conversation!

  1. Ahhhh Cacao! We used to have a tree in our backyard, never thought it is coffee after some processing!! hehehe (I was a little kid then)... When I hear of Madagascar, the ultimate picture is the zoo and the animals, it's good to know there are such plantation around. :)

    Thank you for sharing!

    God Bless!
    JM Kayne | #InMyHeart♥

    ReplyDelete
  2. I would love to see that one day! My favorite part of traveling is discovering new and interesting parts of a place.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This looks so interesting - I really would love to visit here one day! So many experiences to see in the world!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I would love to visit here someday when I am able to travel more. This looks so cool!

    ReplyDelete
  5. What an awesome place to visit! I'd love to see Madagascar one day, and you've definitely inspired me to do so with this post. What a memorable experience!

    ReplyDelete
  6. That is amazing! I never would've known there was more to Madagascar than beach life. It's definitely on my places to visit.

    ReplyDelete
  7. OMG I would so love to go there one day. This sounds like an amazing experience. I always mean to learn a little more about cacao!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Love hearing of people's experiences traveling abroad. I've heard Madagascar is beautiful; would love to see it one day. Thank you for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I would love to travel more and see a plantation like this, the kids would be fascinated by where chocolate comes from

    ReplyDelete
  10. I've always wanted to visit a cacao plantation as I love cocoa so much, this looks like such an interesting visit to Madagascar!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Ooh this place looks absolutely amazing and interesting! I have never tried cacao but am trying it for the first time this weekend... wish me luck :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. such an interesting things and great place to learn about plantation! i'd love to visit there someday :)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Wow what an adventure! Such an interesting and informative read!

    ReplyDelete
  14. I wish I could visit this plantation one day! sounds super exciting!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Wow, it looks so beautiful there. I would love to visit one day!

    ReplyDelete
  16. this was an interesting post! I never heard about this place before

    ReplyDelete
  17. That looks like a beautiful place to visit. I love learning about different places around the world.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I've never really thought about going to Madagascar before. To me, it's where the lemurs live, and where they grow vanilla pods! I'd love to go now though, after reading your post!

    ReplyDelete
  19. This looks like it was such an amazing trip. I never would have really thought of these places - but you totally opened my eyes!

    ReplyDelete
  20. One of the reasons I like to travel is so that I can visit places and learn new things. I’d love to go to Madagascar one day and learn about the things that grown native to the land.

    ReplyDelete

thank you for your feedback

Latest Instagrams

© Me With My Suitcase. Design by FCD.