So the last week has been a whirl wind! I finished up my Malagasy travels with a quick 5 day road trip to both Morondava in the west and Andasibe in the east. Madagascar doesn’t rent cars, but through Drive Mada I was able to hire a driver for about $35/day plus fuel ($4/gal). In the 5 days I was on the road we covered over 1000 miles. Now normally that wouldn’t be so hard, but nothing is normal, or easy, in Madagascar.
Day 1 started a bit late due to some confusion. But I was picked up at 11 from my hotel in Antananarivo and we set off. It was 242 miles to our first stop in Miandrivazo. Due to road conditions this mere 242 miles took a total of 7.5 hours and we arrived right before sunset.
Miandrivazo is merely a place to stay for the night as roads are too dangerous to drive over night with a small car. There are many potholes which will blow a tire quick! The hotel accommodations were cheap and a bit run down but they did the trick and they were able to make me a vegan dinner of rice and vegetables. The next morning we set off early for Morondava.
Day 2’s drive was just about 4.5 hours but we only covered 170 miles. Nothing moves fast here in Madagascar but we reached destination number 1. Morondava is where you can find the Ally of the Baobabs. This is an iconic place for the country. Baobab trees are very interesting and are protected in the country as sacred trees. Seeing them with the storm clouds in the backdrop was stunning. I spent about an hour at the park in total and it was breathtaking. The trees are close to 1000 years old and massive. It started to rain hard, and getting out of the park without a 4X4 was an adventure. So yes… I rode over 2 days to spend about an hour among some really cool trees.
Day 3 had us going back eastward for about 8 hours. We traveled from Morondava past Miandrivazo and onto Antsirabe, a whopping 305 miles. Antsirabe, like Miandrivazo, is just a stop over point on the way to Andasibe. However, Antsirabe is a nice active city. My driver suggested I stay at Hasina. It was a good hotel and I got a private room and bath next to a nice cafe for just $15.
Driving in Madagascar is an adventure for sure. The roads are riddled with pot holes and everywhere travels through small villages where people walk in the middle of the road. This country has some of the most beautifully diverse landscape in such a small area. On the west side it is very arid and deserty. However as you drive eastward the view becomes more a jungle. And as you’ve seen, some gorgeous beaches!
Day 4 took us on a 7 hour drive from Antsirabe, back through Antananarivo, and on to Andasibe (185 miles). This road has fewer obstacles but more traffic as it leads to and from the country’s largest port. Andasibe, destination 2, is beautiful and has a national park where you can find the famous Indri lemurs. The Indri are the largest lemurs and the second loudest primate in the world. My driver organized a guide to take me through the park the next day. This was very handy as I wanted to start early and see as much as possible. So the guide and I decided to start our hike at 6:30am.
The hotel I chose was rather swanky at $22 for the night. The Feon’ny Ala offers private bungalows nestled right next to the forest. They also offer nice food options as well for vegetarians.
Day 5, my last day, began with the early morning hike through the forest in Andasibe. Here we saw the Indri, the beautiful golden lemur, and common brown lemurs. We were lucky to hear their calls and see them being so active in the morning. After my 2ish hour hike, I got my things together and we headed back to Antananarivo.
Seeing Madagascar properly is certainly done by car. But that means it’s a lot of driving for just a bit of time in each location. That said there are heaps of national parks on this giant island and someone could spend weeks with a driver seeing them all. I got a tiny taste of this… perhaps one day I’ll come back to see more!