The lower of the island’s two peaks, Mont Passot (3298m) is a popular late afternoon trip to watch the sun go down over the Mozambique Channel, whether on foot or by car. En route you’ll pass several of the volcanic interior’s eleven crater lakes, all of which have populations of Nile crocodiles. Accidents with these big reptiles (the same species as in Africa, Crocodylus niloticus) are not uncommon, but this doesn’t seem to put local people off from fishing and using the lakes as a car wash – and in any case harming the animals is fady.
Lac Andjavibe, on the south side of the road as you approach by vehicle, is a black spot for crocodile deaths: on average somebody is taken from the shore every three to four years. Continue on and to the east side of the road is the first of two twin lakes, commonly known by the same name, the Lacs des Soeurs or Lacs Mirahavavy, but their true names are Antsimonigny (to the west) and Ambalavato (east). You go through a tollgate for Mont Passot (10,000ar) and there’s a short path to the rim of Lac Antanilatsaka, where a few women usually have some colourful craft stalls set out, selling beads, raffia toys, and embroidered fabrics. Close to the summit you pass Lac Bemapaza, directly by the roadside.
Passing big-leafed teak trees and a telecoms tower you come out on the summit to a 360-degree panorama. Before you is the island’s biggest lake and source of Hell-Ville’s drinking water, Lac Amparihibe and, almost connected to it, Lac Antsidihy, with Djamandjary further away on the coast. Looking south you can see the Lokobé rainforest and the islands of Nosy Komba and Nosy Tanikely. The summit has a new row of souvenir shops and an observation deck, but hopefully the shady mango tree will be preserved.