One of the most interesting day trips from Nosy Be is exactly this: The Millot plantation in Ambanja.
Ok, if you have decided to land in Nosy Be it is probably because you are a beach person, and you are looking to enjoy the incredible beauty of the Malagasy beach to the fullest. That is really good, but dedicating one day of your holiday in Nosy Be to visiting the Millot Plantation is truly an extraordinary cultural enrichment. So, while planning your holiday, try to include this day trip from Nosy Be. After all, the ferry journey from Nosy Be to Ambanja is very short.
What is the Millot Plantation?
The Millot plantation is the leading producer and exporter of cocoa in Madagascar. It was established in 1904 in Ambanja by Lucien Millot, a French man. The Millot Plantation spreads over 15 sq. km and besides being a cocoa producer, it is also famous for cultivating spices and essential oils, such as vanilla and ylang-ylang (the fragrance used for Chanel number 5 perfume). There are more than 1000 employees working in the Millot Plantation and most of them are women.
Why you should visit the Millot Plantation?
As I already wrote in the previous paragraph, the Millot plantation is the main cocoa producer and exporter in Madagascar, and they are listed as one of the world’s top cocoa growers; they own hectares and hectares of land! During the visit you can truly learn how each plant is grown, picked, and processed. More precisely they show you in detail the complete process, from the start to the end of the cacao production, which is exported to Europe and to North America to be then transformed into chocolate bars. This is not the only reason why you should visit the Millot plantation in Ambanja. The employees are allowed to live inside the plantation’s compound. Let’s say that they form a real village there, so in addition to the interesting culture behind the cocoa production you will be able to see the stunning scenery of the daily Malagasy village. There is also a school in this village, which most of the employees’ children attend.
This last point is not to be underestimated because normally tourists heading to Madagascar do not dare to venture into the villages of the natives. (That’s not my case). I have noticed there is still a lot of mistrust. Here at the Millot Plantation you can do it safely. I think this is a unique opportunity to dive into their picturesque houses.
What to expect from the Millot Plantation visit?
Marlene was our guide. It was a group visit during which she explained how each plant is treated. Because the visit is more concentrated on cocoa, much more time is spent on this sector.
Cacao arrived on the island of Madagascar as seedlings from Venezuela 100 years ago. From the Venezuelan ones they later developed their own flavor: there are now three types of cacao cultivated in the Millot plantation, which started producing it in 1920.
Visitors are kindly asked to get permission from the employees before taking photos of them. Try to respect this request because Marlene seemed very strongly strict about this point. Just as it should be after all.
By the way, because the plantation spreads over 15 sq. km, we needed a vehicle during the guided tour. I had mine with a driver and the people who didn’t have their own had to hire one at the plantation. I heard they now have a special bus for visitors, which will definitely makes things easier and cheaper.
Also, I suggest you take a bottle of water and a cap for this day trip from Nosy Be.
A small note about the Millot Lady.
Magdalene Agha Dunoyer ( madoa is her nickname), the owner’s wife, is probably the one who will guide you through the plantation. She is from Cameroon. She speaks good English and French. She is a very informative and interesting woman.
That been said, I also want you to know that she is very strict. I mean having a good general knowledge and culture, she is very determined. She demands respect for herself, for her land, and for her workers. During the visit, it is easy to get curt replies if you pretend to go off-limits.
In my case, we had lunch together that day, and I enjoyed my time talking to her.
Dining and sleeping at the Millot Plantation.
After the Millot plantation visit, you can have lunch or dinner at their wonderful farmhouse in the heart of the cocoa plantation. And why not, you can also sleep at their property: B&B Maison du Planteur.
I had lunch there; they offer typical Malagasy food with dishes prepared with products from the plantation. Everything was delicious!!!
I didn’t sleep at B&B Maison du Planteur, but Marlene showed me the rooms which are very basic but clean. They propose typical Malagasy high standard style which is far away from what we mean by high standard in Europe. Let’s not forget that.
If I hadn’t already had a reservation in Diego Suarez for that night, I would have probably accepted the offer to sleep at the Millot Plantation, but my week was already well-scheduled and changing the plans is not that easy in Madagascar, especially if you are moving around the country with a driver.
Millot Plantation prices.
Plantation visit € 10.00
Lunch and Plantation visit € 25.00
B&B € 20.00