The biggest town in the northeast, SAMBAVA is something of a regional tourism hub, and offers the only practical access to the Parc National de Marojejy and Réserve Speciale de Anjanaharibe-Sud. The town spreads along the coast between the sandy shore and a brackish creek, narrowing to a strip of land just a couple of hundred metres wide at the northern end of the centre, where the coast road crosses the creek and a river delta. On the other side of the bridge, the poorer quarters of town stretch inland to the north of the river. If you’re looking for beach time, you’ll find that the coast at Sambava is fringed with broad and beautiful strands, but the sea here is dangerous. The most sheltered area is the north-facing bay near the airport, 400m down the first right turning on the way into town.
Leaving Sambava northwards, the road twists and turns through a heavily populated region of farms and secondary forest, with numerous police checkpoints as far as Ampanefena. Further north, the scene changes as the road straightens over long stretches of empty bush and scrub, and spans numerous single-lane bridges before reaching Vohemar.