65 million years B.C. - Belobaka Caves

Located 11km off the town of Mahajanga, the Belobaka Grottoes are the result of a karst formation from the secondary era (about 65 million years ago). Consisting of seven caves, they are a paradise for paleontologists.
Belobaka, literally "where there is a lot of tobacco", derives from "lobaka", the "tobacco" in Sakalava dialect. In the past, a huge tobacco field was planted near the village. The secondary era that created the grottoes was characterized by heavy rainfall. Over time the water dissolved and corroded the pure limestone rocks thereby shaping the caves.
The percolating water, when it reaches the open, deposited the particles of the limestone that it kept in dissolution to form "stalactites" and "stalagmites". In addition to the five separate caves that make up the Belobaka site, two new caves have recently been discovered. The first cave, more than 20 metres underground, is the deepest. In the depths of these caves offering plates were created, making them places of worship. This is a paradise for paleontologists, as 18 000 year old sub-fossils of lemurs and hippopotamuses (hippopotamus lalloumena) have been discovered in these caves and preserved in the Akiba museum. A small tour around the village of Belobaka with various lime kilns (from limestone rocks) and red clay bricks completes this day of exploration.
This article was featured in Prime Magazine September 2018

Useful Information

When to go

Mahajanga is in a savanna climate. Its winters are dry and as a result precipitation is much higher in summer than in winter. The average temperature is 26.9°C and the best time to visit the site is between May and November.

How to get there

By using Air Madagascar, Mahajanga is easy to access. Coming by car, it takes 7 hours from Antananarivo. From there, take a private vehicle, the bus line 22 or hitch a ride to Belobaka.

Where to stay

Great choice in hotels: Baobab Hotel, Sunny Hotel, Antsanitia Resort, Les Roches Rouges, Coco Lodge. Also Anjajavy Lodge or the Relais & Châteaux Madagascar.

Where to eat

We would recommend you eat at Papi Râleur's. In the city, enjoy the relaxed atmosphere in the small courtyard of Karen's restaurant.

What to see

Visit to the lime kilns of the village of Belobaka and the great sacred baobab tree with a thousand branches in the town of Mahajanga. Not to be missed are the beaches of Amborovy and, also, the great ramparts are worth a visit. In the evening, take a walk along Mahajanga to enjoy the festive atmosphere.