I did some digital nomadism in Sambava

Hi dear nomads. I had the opportunity to travel to Sambava, on November, for my job. If you are a reader/follower of mine, you already know that I am a journalist, a blogger, and also an entrepreneur. This time, I traveled as an entrepreneur, for my company. Actually, I was giving a training about community management and WordPress basics for another local company staff. Also, I could have had some kind of holidays. Of couuuuuuuuuurse ! I spent one week there. It was an interesting experience, but I already want to tell you that if you are a digital nomad, Sambava is not the best place to stay for remote work. But for holidays, yes, it is!

An under-exploited economic granary and not very welcoming community

Sambava is a place located on the northeast coast of Madagascar, in the Sava region. Sava is one of the 23 regions of Madagascar, whose name is an acronym formed from those of its four districts: Sambava, Antalaha, Vohemar and Andapa. It belongs to the Province of Diego-Suarez, and Sambava is its Capital. The region is well-known for the vanilla, coffee and clove production, and is one of the most export-oriented regions for these products in the Big Island.

Sambava is not considered as a very big Province in Madagascar, even if it has that important economic role. That’s very sad because he has a very great potential, but it is not fully explored. Infrastructures, roads, hotels, connections, are at a very low quality and doesn’t encourage people or investors to stay.

There are no 4-5 stars hotels there. For my part, for example, I stayed at the Melrose Hotel, which is said to be “one of the best” in Sambava. But I was incredibly disappointed by the service, the connection, the quality-price ratio. I think people don’t have the same conception of “good”. The two things that were good there were the foods and the view. In fact, the hotel has a direct view on the beach, which is incredibly beautiful.

Digital nomad by tiasy

The reception and the hospitality were so disappointing I wanted to find another hotel, but it seemed that they were almost the same. Imagine, the kids of the hotel owner were playing in the lobby, with all their toys scattered on the ground, that you can’t even walk to the cash register. Also, all the family members of the owner were there. They were acting like the hotel was theirs. There was no respect for the customers.

And the worst, they said I could get wifi in my room, but then finally told me when I arrived on the D-Day that I had to pay almost the double of the room price for the internet… I said that it was okay, I’ll manage.

The next day, at lunch hours, I tried to look for a co-working space or a restaurant with wifi, but I found none of these. There is no co-working space there, almost everything closes between 12 and 2pm (offices, cybercafes, institutions and public services, etc), and the restaurants doesn’t have internet (or they don’t want to give the wifi code, I don’t know).

People were really not welcoming in general. That was really handicapping for me because I love social interactions, mostly in new places, but they all seem like they didn’t want to talk.

Also, the cost of living is very high, compared to the other Provinces in Madagascar. People there say that it is because of the vanilla, but even so… It’s like three or four times the price in Antananarivo, the Capital. Even Nosy Be is less expensive, while people are complaining about Nosy Be.

It is said that people there have money, that they “don’t care about money”, and that is true. In Sambava, the bajaj fare costs at least 1000 Ariary, and can go until 10 000 Ariary if you are going a little bit far. People are easily spending 50 000 Ariary (about 10 dollars) in a day, just for food and transport. That would make a Tananarivian happy for a week. Haha. I spent at least 40 000 Ariary per day there. If I stayed more than a week, I would have been ruined!

I’d say that you still can leave with 1000$ per month as a digital nomad, but you can easily spend more if you don’t pay attention.

Hot, wild and natural

Now that we talked about what I didn’t like: people xD, let’s talk about what I loved there. Again, if you a reader/follower of mine, you already know that I am a very frigid human, so that I need and love hot weather. The weather was very hot, reaching 30°C. It was so hot that everytime I took a bath, the second after I got out of the shower, I already sweated a lot. And the same happened after I just did my daily skincare with my Atomy products. Well, that one was really irritating xD

The place is very wild. Beaches are still very natural, with no constructions, no human marks, trees are still there, animals, everything… It looks like Bali’s beach but better. A tropical place like we could have ever dreamt of it.

Sambava, a place more for holidays than for digital nomadism

Finally, considering all that story, I’d say that if you are looking for a place for digital nomadism, Sambava is not really the best option. On the other hand, if you are looking for a place for holidays, I would totally recommend it. You can also go to the other places in the region: Antalaha, Vohemar or Andapa, while passing there, as they are not really far from there. The only problem is that the roads are not really good.

Also, if you need peace, calm, reconnection with yourself, the “moramora life” as they are calling it in Madagascar, it would be your best choice. But if you want a place with more activities and attractions, I’d say that you should go somewhere else in Madagascar: Antananarivo, Nosy Be, Diego, etc…

  • Trip preparation

For this trip to Sambava, I took the national company airline: Tsaradia (lien vers company airlines). This is not the first time I’m taking Tsaradia, and I don’t know if this is just luck, but contrary to what other people are experiencing, I’m always having a pleasure travelling with them.

If you have a Malagasy nationality, you just need your ID card to travel around the Big Island, and your tickets, of course.

  • Some places to visit in Sambava

As I said, if you need peace, calm, reconnection with yourself, the “moramora life” as they are calling it in Madagascar, Sambava would be your best choice. But if you want a place with more activities and attractions, I’d say that you should go somewhere else in Madagascar. Even so, here are nice places to visit in Sambava:

  • Tandramena
  • Beach (bord)
  • Hiking.

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