Eden is more than the name of the botanical garden at Tsara Komba Lodge—it’s the very essence of this remote island paradise off the northwestern tip of Madagascar. The second biggest island of the pristine Nosy Be archipelago, and one of the most beautiful, Nosy Komba (also known as “Lemur Island”) is home to a handful of small traditional fishing villages and dotted with fragrant cacao, vanilla, and coffee plantations. The rest is pure wilderness—a playful colony of black macaco lemurs, dense tropical forest, and a kaleidoscope of marine life below the island’s glistening waters.
Like the dazzling biodiversity that coexists on this volcanic island, the tranquil hideaway of Tsara Komba works in harmony with its surroundings. An on-site nursery incubates endemic baobab trees, and the property backs onto a private indigenous nature reserve teeming with parrots, hummingbirds, and chameleons. Tucked between forest and sea, the lodge’s thatched bungalows blend into the tropical vegetation that spill down the hillside. Private terraces look out over the ocean, where dolphins skim across the horizon. Stone paths lead past bougainvillea, papaya, and flame trees to golden beaches. With no roads on the island, everyone travels by foot, boat, or dugout canoe. The pace here is as gentle as the waves lapping its shores.
Tsara Komba is more than Nosy Komba village’s top employer: beyond the 30 islanders that happily keep the lodge running with warm hospitality and skill, the sense of community imbues every element of the lodge. When a former landlord obtained a court order to evict villagers, the owners of Tsara Komba raised enough money to lease the land for the village for 99 years. They also started a nonprofit called Des Villages et Des Hommes, which has restored 30 dwellings, helped pipe clean water to the village, and built a kindergarten for young villagers. In times of water scarcity, the lodge shares their supply. When the lodge hosts guest weddings, the local church is engaged, community members often attend, and local performance groups offer traditional song and dance. And Tsara Komba invites villagers to an annual end-of-the-year party that celebrates local traditions.
The lodge’s support of Malagasy arts runs deep, too—from the local art on the walls to the women’s craft group that comes to show their wares. Tsara Komba is especially committed to the wood-carving traditions of the Zafimaniry people in the Madagascan highlands, an art form recognized by UNESCO. Funds raised by the lodge’s charity work have helped spread awareness of this art form in addition to repairing historic wooden architecture in a Zafimaniry village.
When you reserve your space through National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World, you’ll have the exclusive opportunity to learn about Tsara Komba’s nonprofit Des Villages et Des Hommes and see its projects firsthand. Join the management staff for a visit to the nearby village, where you’ll meet the chief, visit some of the restored houses, and learn about everyday life. Then return to the lodge for a local rum tasting. Learn how the rum is made in this region, and sample some of the spirit's different flavors.
Tsara Komba understands sustainability on a deep level, making efforts to reduce its environmental impact while also conserving the natural surroundings and improving the well-being of its neighbors.
The lodge tends the Eden Garden, a tropical botanical garden on site that blooms with more than 200 endemic species, and a nursery that is helping to reintroduce endemic baobab trees and pachypodiums on Nosy Komba. Tsara Komba also preserves a private indigenous nature reserve, home to wild pepper, vanilla, cocoa, lemurs, chameleons, hummingbirds, and black parrots.
Tsara Komba has set a target of becoming carbon neutral, and a recent evaluation confirmed that they are well on their way. To minimize their environmental footprint, the lodge recycles, composts, and conserves water, which is scarce in this part of the world. A gravity-fed system and natural filtration for garden irrigation help reduce water and energy consumption further, and the lodge harnesses solar energy to heat water. The restaurant relies on island-grown ingredients, including many fruits and vegetables from the lodge’s own garden, and sources seafood from local fishermen. There are no cars or roads here; most travel is done by foot or traditional pirogue canoe.
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