The Millot plantation, Madagascar

October 21, 2017Niry Fidelis

Day trip From Nosy Be to Ambanja

Contrary to what I expected, Madagascar had plenty of options. I thought
it was just beach and animals same like in the famous cartoon but it offered
much more. I flew from Milan to Nosy Be with air Italy and I had previously planned to
stay around only the Nosy Be area because the public transport didn’t seem easy.
Once in Nosy Be, I understood that with someone’s (native born) help it would
have been possible reaching the mainland Madagascar by boat (Nosy Be to
Ankify) and that sounded really very interesting because on the other side
there was much more than a beach life.
The public ferry to Ankify
(the arrival port at the mother island side) cost 1000 ari ari and the private
speedboats around 80.000 ari ari. In this case, you pay for the boat and not
for the person. So groups better travel privately. As my taxi driver was there
to help me out I bought the ticket for the public ferry. At that moment it
wouldn’t have been possible for me self-managing the situation because they
handled the embarkation very chaotically and especially I couldn’t speak their
language and no one there seemed wanting to speak English. Ankify
 was just 30 minutes of sailing distance from Nosy Be and since I
was so determined to cross the bay I didn’t want to give up. Once in Ankify, it
hasn’t been difficult to catch a taxi (not more than 20 minutes) towards
Ambanja, the city of my destination.

There was only one cocoa producing area in Madagascar: Ambanja, in the
north of the mother Island of Madagascar. The leading producer was
the Millot Plantation. They owned hectares and hectares of land where entire
villages were living and working. They didn’t handle only cocoa but also
spices and essential oils, especially ylang-ylang (the fragrance used for
Channel number 5 perfume).
Marlene, our guide, the
owner’s wife, was from Cameroon. She spoke good English and French. She was
very informative and an interesting woman. D
uring the visit, she explained how each plant is grown, picked and
processed. There were more than 1000 employers working there, most of
them were women. At the beginning of the visit, she told us to ask always
the employers before taking photos of them. I didn’t really
understand if it was whether a form of respect towards them or because Marlene
herself didn’t like photos at her property and therefore used them as a shield.
As many of them lived inside the plantation we could also see huts
with daily life going on. Cacao arrived on the island as seedlings from
Venezuela 100 years ago! From the Venezuelan one, they have later developed
their own flavour: there are now three types of cacao cultivated in Millot who
were responsible for the drying and fermenting of the bean that is produced in
this area. The Millot plantation started producing cacao in the 1920s and it was
famous for its fine flavored beans which are used by some of the most
well-known chocolate makers. The plantation was open to visitors (€ 10.00) and
it is often listed as one of the world’s top cocoa plantations. 

Because the plantation
spreads over 15 sq. km, we needed a vehicle during the guided tour. I had mine
with the driver and the ones who didn’t have their own vehicle, had to hire one
at the plantation itself. After the tour, I decided to
sleep and dine in their wonderful farmhouse in the heart of the cocoa
plantation, Maison du Planteur B&B for a reasonable price. (Lunch and
Plantation visit € 25.00, B&B € 20.00).
Seemed that the Millot supported a primary school attended by the children
of their employers. I highly recommend a stay with Marlene, she was such an
interesting person. I wondered asking her during my stay how much they
earn from the plantation and she answered me: I earn as much as enough to pay
all my employers well and to give a decent life to my family!!!
She was a strong woman with a great personality and I have brought home
something from her that I will never forget: I never quarrel with the ones I
love because they are a gift from heaven she told me at the end! Sadly most of
the tourists I met in Madagascar ended up their vacation inside the big resorts
in Nosy Be, without even knowing that the journey from Nosy Be to Ambanja was
very short.

The day after, on my way
back to Nosy Be, due to the breakdown of the public ferry I had to travel by
the private speedboat. I tried to Negotiate but they didn’t change the price
even if I begged for long. As soon as they got the money from me (80.000 ari
ari) they started to load up the boat with the locals as well, asking them 1000
ari ari each. They at least should have travelled free because I have already
paid the amount for the full travel service. Or otherwise, they should have
asked me less, discounting what they had been able to collect from others. Most
of the locals travelling with me were girls (young prostitutes) going from the
mainland for their night duty in Ambatoloaka. If you want to avoid travelling
with them make sure to ask the boatman before paying him, or even better if you
pay at the arrival. In case instead you make the crossing with the public
ferry, you should get back to Nosy Be just after the lunch to avoid the girls.

Comments (20)

  • JM Kayne

    June 8, 2017 at 12:03 pm

    Ahhhh Cacao! We used to have a tree in our backyard, never thought it is coffee after some processing!! hehehe (I was a little kid then)… When I hear of Madagascar, the ultimate picture is the zoo and the animals, it's good to know there are such plantation around. 🙂

    Thank you for sharing!

    God Bless!
    JM Kayne | #InMyHeart♥

  • Stacie

    December 21, 2018 at 10:16 pm

    I would love to see that one day! My favorite part of traveling is discovering new and interesting parts of a place.

  • Alexandra Cook

    December 22, 2018 at 12:24 am

    This looks so interesting – I really would love to visit here one day! So many experiences to see in the world!

  • Danielle

    December 22, 2018 at 2:23 am

    I would love to visit here someday when I am able to travel more. This looks so cool!

  • Lisa

    December 22, 2018 at 11:09 am

    What an awesome place to visit! I'd love to see Madagascar one day, and you've definitely inspired me to do so with this post. What a memorable experience!

  • Tiffany Barry

    December 22, 2018 at 1:25 pm

    That is amazing! I never would've known there was more to Madagascar than beach life. It's definitely on my places to visit.

  • Danielle

    December 22, 2018 at 1:48 pm

    OMG I would so love to go there one day. This sounds like an amazing experience. I always mean to learn a little more about cacao!

  • Sara

    December 22, 2018 at 5:03 pm

    Love hearing of people's experiences traveling abroad. I've heard Madagascar is beautiful; would love to see it one day. Thank you for sharing!

  • Kara Guppy

    December 22, 2018 at 6:51 pm

    I would love to travel more and see a plantation like this, the kids would be fascinated by where chocolate comes from

  • Yeah Lifestyle

    December 22, 2018 at 9:27 pm

    I've always wanted to visit a cacao plantation as I love cocoa so much, this looks like such an interesting visit to Madagascar!

  • Shar

    December 23, 2018 at 1:52 am

    Ooh this place looks absolutely amazing and interesting! I have never tried cacao but am trying it for the first time this weekend… wish me luck 🙂

  • Claire

    December 23, 2018 at 2:32 am

    such an interesting things and great place to learn about plantation! i'd love to visit there someday 🙂

  • SincerelyMissJ

    December 23, 2018 at 5:25 am

    Wow what an adventure! Such an interesting and informative read!

  • Lyosha Varezhkina

    December 23, 2018 at 6:00 am

    I wish I could visit this plantation one day! sounds super exciting!

  • Rachael Dorr

    December 23, 2018 at 6:30 pm

    Wow, it looks so beautiful there. I would love to visit one day!

  • Jasmine Hewitt

    December 24, 2018 at 1:55 am

    this was an interesting post! I never heard about this place before

  • redheadmomblog

    December 24, 2018 at 3:12 am

    That looks like a beautiful place to visit. I love learning about different places around the world.

  • Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary

    December 24, 2018 at 5:13 pm

    I've never really thought about going to Madagascar before. To me, it's where the lemurs live, and where they grow vanilla pods! I'd love to go now though, after reading your post!

  • Katrina Ellen

    December 26, 2018 at 9:23 am

    This looks like it was such an amazing trip. I never would have really thought of these places – but you totally opened my eyes!

  • Nikki Townsend-Hopkins

    December 28, 2018 at 6:36 pm

    One of the reasons I like to travel is so that I can visit places and learn new things. I’d love to go to Madagascar one day and learn about the things that grown native to the land.

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