During a stay at Diego, you could visit the Sacred Lake of Anivorano (or Antagnavo). This lake contains many crocodiles that, according to legend, were once men.
A visit to the Sacred Lake of Anivorano is a must for cultural tourism. It is a local belief that, a long time ago, a traveller was passing through the village. He asked for water to quench his thirst but locals refused, with the exception of one woman. In his anger, he drowned the village and so it became a lake.
He cursed the villagers by transforming them into crocodiles. Only the woman who offered him a drink was spared. She watched over the crocodiles and the traveller's descendants continue to make offerings such as zebu meat (local cattle) to the crocodiles of the Sacred Lake. It is said that several crocodiles still wear jewellery from their lives as men in the past.
Sacrifices of zebu, food offering rituals, are held here on Saturdays. The villagers sacrifice a zebu if a vow they pronounced near the lake came true. The children sing and clap rhythmically to make the crocodiles come to the surface and the 'crocodile men' are urged to catch the meat offering on the shore.
Access to the Sacred Lake must be negotiated with the local authorities.
This article was featured in Prime Magazine Sept 2017
When to go
It is forbidden to go there on a Tuesday. It is thought to be the day when the traveller cursed the village. You can make the trip on other days of the week including Saturdays where rituals sometimes take place.
How to get there
Air Madagascar flights from Antananarivo to the Diego Suarez city. You have to take a car to get to Anivorano, 70 km from Diego. You then have to walk 5km of muddy track. Access right is required.
Where to stay
The tour of the Sacred Lake is limited to one excursion. You will not have to spend the night there. Once back to Diego, you can stay at the Grand Hotel Diego (Antsiranana), Hotel Le Suarez (ex-Panorama hôtel), Hotel Allamanda, Hotel Miavana (Nosy Ankao), Hotel Mantasaly.
Where to eat
Lake Anivorano is a sacred lake, In most sacred sites of the country, it is forbidden to eat pork or boar. If you plan to bring a picnic basket check with your guide. Ideally eat before or after visiting the Sacred Lake, in Diego. Grand Hôtel Diego (Antsiranana) Hôtel LE SUAREZ (ex-Panorama Hôtel), Hôtel Allamanda, Hôtel Miavana (Nosy Ankao), Hôtel Mantasaly, Moramora are all places where you can savour local products.
What to see
What is most important is this famous lake. The children of the village will not fail to tell you the legend. You might observe during the rituals these 'crocodile men' who are reincarnations of the inhabitants of the village.