AMBODIFOTATRA, Sainte Marie’s capital, is a one-street town of largely wooden buildings, close to the seashore. Although there are no specific attractions beyond the curiosity of Madagascar’s oldest church, the red-roofed Catholic church of Notre Dame de l’Assomption, which overlooks the creek on the south side of town, Ambodifotatra is a welcoming enough place to hang out – and if you’re on a low budget probably the best base on the island.

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