Madagascar Updates: Chapter 16

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29 Comments

  1. 3 November 2013 at 5:09 am

    Camping is no longer allowed at Kirindy due to the fossa in the area. The park entrance-restaurant-bungalow area is part of the territory of several fossa and it is currently considered inappropriate to camp there as a result. The cheapest alternative is a dormitory bed for Ar30,000 (room sleeps up to 4 pp.). Showers associated with the dormitories are indeed bucket showers, as is often the case in Madagascar when camping or using budget accommodation. Fabulous night walk with lots of lemurs as well. Great place to visit. Make sure you stay overnight so you can do the night walk, and go out for an early morning walk too. As in most reserves in Madagascar, the guides are very knowledgeable and passionate about their work. The road from Morondava to Kirindy is good (dirt) and a 2WD vehicle will be fine if this is as far as you are going – ie not continuing to the Tsingy de Bemeraha for which a 4WD vehicle will definitely be required. This was August 2013.

  2. Daniel Austin said,

    30 November 2012 at 9:26 pm

    Between Morondava and Belo-sur-Mer is the small village of Ankevo-sur-Mer where a Belgian association called ADDA has set up a small number of community-run bungalows. Families in the village take turns being responsible for the bungalows, switching once a family has generated a certain amount of income. For more details contact Marcel Willems (tel: 95 928 41; email: marcel.willems977@gmail.com). The organisation also runs other community development projects in the area.

    • Alastair Cameron said,

      30 May 2013 at 8:10 pm

      We visited Ankevo by chance in May 2013 – it was wonderful. We were sailing in a pirogue to Belo but the wind was coming strong from the south and six hours after leaving Morondava our piroguier decided to call at Ankevo instead. We got a great welcome from Jean-Pierre, and he set us up with one of the bungalows for the night, and a village lady prepared our evening meal.
      The instituteur and guide, Mahatsanga, took us to see a sacred baobab about 4 km east of the village, beyond Ankevo-Terre; the village’s claim is that this is the baobab with the greatest girth in Madagascar, at 22.1m.
      Jean-Pierre can be contacted on 00 261 (0)33 07 489 10.
      We never got to Belo – and the wind changed direction overnight so it took us 7 hours to get back to Morondava!

  3. Daniel Austin said,

    30 November 2012 at 9:25 pm

    At the village of Ambatomilo, 125km north of Toliara, is Shangri-La Lodge, with bar and restarant. The beach there is beautiful. There are six bungalows, all doubles with sea (and sunset) views from the bed. Email: info@ambatomilo.com; web: http://www.ambatomilo.com.

  4. Daniel Austin said,

    18 November 2012 at 5:39 pm

    Andavadoaka’s infrastructure is improving. It now has an airstrip served weekly by Air Madagascar Twin Otter, and a cellphone mast (Telma). This is all because a luxury hotel is set to open on the little island of Nosy Hao just offshore in 2014.
    About 1½hrs south of the village by pirogue is the Bay of Assassins, which makes a good excursion. Alternatively you can get there by zebu cart in about an hour (20,000Ar). Near the bay you can visit Blue Ventures’ aquaculture projects (community projects farming sea cucumbers and red seaweed). At Lamboara, near the bay, is another BV project: a spider tortoise breeding ground and reserve. Talk to Blue Ventures or an Andavadoaka Eco-guide to arrange your excursion. Eco-guides can also organise trips to the baobab forest by zebu cart (20,000Ar for the cart plus a similar fee for the guide).
    In the village there are basic huts at Chez Antoine; Coco Beach at the southern end of the village has mostly mid-range bungalows (and a couple of budget ones); 2km south is Manga lodge with mid-to-upper range bungalows; and 1½km north of the village is top-end Valahantsaka which opened in 2011 and has just three gorgeous bungalows (around 210,000Ar for a double).
    There is no public scuba diving outfit in Andavadoaka for now.
    Less than 5km south of Andavadoaka is the little village of Ampasilava. There are no hotels or restaurants there – except Laguna Blu Resort which is some way north of the village. The Italian owner of Laguna Blu is a doctor who has built a hospital nearby. It has a very good reputation locally and people come from many miles around for treatment.

  5. Daniel Austin said,

    18 November 2012 at 4:49 pm

    Morombe is a crumbling shadow of its former colonial grandeur, but after dark it becomes quite a party town no matter what the day of the week (with some particularly bold and persistent prostitutes). During the daytime there’s a fairly extensive market, as well as several small shops, a post office, and a branch of BOA (the only bank between Morondava and Toliara). The bank is open Mon-Fri 08:30–11:35 & 14:30–16:30 and has no ATM.
    The town essentially consists of two roads running parallel to the beach. Most administrative buildings are on the landward road, whilst the centre of activity after dark is along the seaward road. Here you will find Eclipse (Chez Papa Dorant), a restaurant and discotheque that was built for the influx of eclipse tourists in 2001. The restaurant is open 10:00–14:00 & 18:00–midnight. Les Pyramides (opposite Croix du Sud) is especially recommended for a good meal at very reasonable prices. Another excellent restaurant is ‘A Seafood’, situated 5mins north of the church on the landward road.
    Most tourists just treat Morombe as a transit town on the journey to or from Andavadoaka, but there are a couple of decent hotels if you plan to linger. Many cheap hotels (eg: Datier, Les Pyramides) have simple huts for just 5,000Ar. Le Crabe (budget) and Croix du Sud (mid-range) are at the north end of town, whilst in the south are the upper-range Baobab and Pirogue d’Or.
    There is good cellphone coverage of all three networks in Morombe.

  6. Daniel Austin said,

    18 November 2012 at 4:26 pm

    Andranopasy is a very small village conveniently sited midway between Belo-sur-Mer and Morombe. It has just one hotel – Djamat – with seven very basic bungalows. There is only a very limited selection of food available to buy (but the hotel can prepare meals with advance warning) and the village has no cellphone coverage.

  7. Daniel Austin said,

    18 November 2012 at 4:23 pm

    Kirindy-Mite National Park has three sections to visit. The first has lakes (excellent birdlife) and mangroves with bats. The second is Manahy, which takes about 2hrs by 4×4 or pirogue. And the third is the offshore islands, but snorkelling is poor on the nearby islands after a 2012 cyclone caused serious damage to the reef. The southernmost island (Andriamitroke) still has excellent snorkelling, but it is a bit too far for a day trip from Belo.

  8. Daniel Austin said,

    18 November 2012 at 4:13 pm

    Belo-sur-Mer is a rather colourful Vezo village famed for its shipbuilding. Large boats in all stages of construction line the seafront. The village has only just got back on its feet after a major cyclone impact in 2009.
    Once also known for its population of pigs, these now seem to have been largely replaced by goats, of which many roam the village and tideline in search of scraps.
    The Madagascar National Parks office is next to the Catholic church on the southern side of the village. Go here to buy permits for visits to Kirindy-Mite National Park. Open: 07:30–12:00 & 14:30–18:00; tel 033 17 672 94 (Bertrand – speaks no English).
    Basic accommodation is available at Chez Lova, Chez Mon Ami and Doro Hotel in the village. South of the village are a few small mid-range and upper-range hotels: Tsara Belo (newly opened in June 2012), Le Corail, Dauphin, and Ecolodge du Menabe. A couple of kilometres further south is Hatea, an Italian-owned campsite on a beautiful peninsula, where there is a dorm and three self-catering bungalows.
    In the village visit Chez Mon Ami for cold drinks, tasty doughnuts, and reasonably priced meals. Chez Lova also has a restaurant. Belo has good cellphone coverage (Airtel only).

  9. Daniel Austin said,

    18 November 2012 at 3:40 pm

    Travelling directly between Morondava and Toliara is not easy. The roads are poor and vehicles very infrequent, so it is easier to go by sea in some sections. If you plan to sail (rather than take a motor boat) then the wind usually favours going in the Toliara to Morondava direction.
    Sail pirogues are quite easily found at each of the villages along the way, so it is not necessary (as with a motor pirogue) to keep the same piroguier all the way. The typical price is 100,000Ar or so per day. With good wind, a sail pirogue can cover more than 60km in a day. But weather conditions can change quickly, so be prepared to get stuck halfway and spend one or more nights camping on the beach, or in a tiny fishing village.
    Motor pirogues can be found in Morondava or Belo-sur-Mer. The most reliable and responsible motor piroguier is Francis (tel: 032 41 129 66 and 033 18 780 40), based in Betania (Morondava). He speaks a little English and his outrigger pirogue can take up to four passengers. Ramaro (tel: 033 18 789 75), based in Belo-sur-Mer, has a more substantial motor pirogue, which also has a sail and shade canopy, although a less good motor. Also in Belo is Dede (tel: 033 01 863 73), who speaks good English and has a motor pirogue. Motor pirogue transfers from Morondava to Belo typically cost around 400,000Ar (per boat). Morondava to Morombe, taking at least three days, costs about 1,000,000Ar. Or to go as far as Salary it is about 1,700,000Ar (at least five days). Then from Salary to Toliara it is fairly easy to go by road.
    If you only want to go as far as Belo, then some Belo hotels can arrange transfers from Morondava. Ecolodge has a boat with a maximum capacity of nine people, which costs 650,000Ar for the transfer; or by 4×4 (max 4 people) it costs 300,000Ar – but this option is only available in the dry season.
    A Corsican former French Navy commando runs a large motor boat called ‘Kintan’ny Maraina’ (‘The Morning Star’) twice a week to Belo from Morondava. It costs 85,000Ar each way. The boat can cope with rougher sea than motor/sail pirogues and takes 3–4hrs. It only leaves if there are at least six passengers, but its maximum capacity is 26. For departure dates, enquire at Hotel Renala in Morondava or call 033 03 364 25. (This boat also offers free emergency medical evacuations to the locals in Belo.)
    The owner of the ‘Kintan’ny Maraina’ boat also runs boat excursions to Bosy, a former prison village 45min north of Morondava, which is now a boat-building centre. It is said that there is such a longstanding French influence here that there are Malagasies with blue eyes (trip price: 78,000Ar). He also offers whale-watching for 52,000Ar per person in season (Jul–Sep).
    A fortnightly camion-brousse runs between Morondava and Toliara, going down on Thursday and returning the following Thursday. But this goes via the unexciting inland route – not via Morombe, Andavadoaka and Salary – and takes about 18hrs. It is only possible in the dry season because north of Manja the road is impassable after about mid-November due to the river crossings.
    Camion-brousses also run daily between Morombe and Toliara (overnight), taking around 16hrs and costing 25,000Ar.
    On the coastal road there are daily taxi-brousses between Morombe and Andavadoaka (8,000Ar) but there is no public transport between Andavadoaka and Salary, although occasional private vehicles make the trip so you may be able to hitchhike. From Antsepoky, fishing cooperative trucks run overnight most nights taking seafood deliveries to Toliara (but less often when sea conditions are favourable for sending the cargo by boat instead). It’s a smelly journey (unless you convince them to let you sit in the cab) but should only cost around 25,000Ar – or 15,000Ar as far as Salary. From Salary to Toliara, taxi-brousses depart on alternate days. Once you get as far as Manombo, Madiorano, Mangily and Ifaty, it is easy to find road transport south to Toliara; several taxi-brousses depart Mangily every morning, costing 3,000Ar and taking about 2hrs to reach Toliara (by 4×4 it only takes about 1hr but expect to pay 5,000Ar if hitchhiking).

  10. Daniel Austin said,

    18 November 2012 at 3:39 pm

    In Betania (the little village opposite Nosy Kely in Morondava), there is accommodation, restaurant and bar at Le Bon Cap (Chez Francis) tel: 032 41 429 66 and 033 18 780 40 (or email via Hotel Trecicogne in Morondava). There are three beachfront wooden bungalows with en-suite shower and clean communal toilet, mosquito nets, solar electricity, and free pirogue crossings to Morondava for guests. Boat excursions to a small fishing village and to mangroves. Camping is permitted at the hotel.

  11. Jorn Arnt said,

    8 November 2012 at 8:16 am

    Morondava – hotel October 5, 2012
    We stayed in Sun Beach Hotel, run by a french-malagasy couple. It was very good value for money.
    The food was the best we had on the whole trip, at very reasonable prices

  12. Daniel Austin said,

    1 November 2012 at 9:49 am

    A driver and car for taxi/transfers is Morondava: call Dadah on 032 44 161 57 or 033 72 741 93.

  13. Daniel Austin said,

    31 October 2012 at 1:20 pm

    Kirindy Reserve has 12 double bungalows with en-suite facilities and hot water. There are 6 at 72,000Ar with toilet and shower, and 6 at 52,000Ar with just a shower. Dormitory beds (4 beds per room, with communal toilets and bucket showers) cost 27,000Ar. Camping is also possible either with your own tent or that of the reserve for 15,000Ar per night.
    Reservations: tel: 95 928 65 or 032 40 165 89 or 033 16 303 78; email: cfpfmva20051@yahoo.fr

  14. Daniel Austin said,

    31 October 2012 at 1:13 pm

    In Bekopaka, the entry point for Bemaraha National Park, a new Malagasy-owned hotel opened in 2009 called Vazimba Hotel (but now in the process of changing its name to La Grande Hôtel du Tsingy du Bemaraha) on the west side of the village near Hôtel Tanankoay. It currently has 15 quaint brick bungalows, but hopes to build 5 more in 2013 and has ambitions to be the largest hotel in Bekopaka eventually (the restaurant has apparently been constructed with a view to catering for 300 diners, although the current capacity of the hotel is around 35 guests).
    The grounds are nicely planted, with a swimming pool (free for guests; 10,000Ar for public) and restaurant at the centre. A bar and terrace are under construction and due to open in 2013.
    The bungalows are attractively decorated inside, with excellent en-suite bathrooms. There is hot water and electricity 24hrs, but currently no internet access. Mozzie nets and fans in the rooms. Doubles cost 100,000Ar, twins 110,000Ar, family (up to 4) 120,000Ar, and family bungalow with mezzanine (up to 6 people) 150,000Ar. Breakfast costs 15,000Ar, lunch or dinner 30,000Ar, and picnic lunches available for 20,000Ar. The hotel does not have a vehicle for transfers.
    tel: 033 08 799 48 or 033 08 620 59; email: hotel@vazimbahotel.mg; web: http://www.vazimbahotel.mg

  15. Mike said,

    30 October 2012 at 12:24 pm

    Ankarafantsika national park: the bungalows are block booked for at least 12 months ahead, but the restaurant is now very good,

    Zahamotel, Amborovy is badly in need of refurbisment.

    Chez Chabaud, Katsepy is now run by a Malagasy team. The accomodation is still good and perfect for bird watchiing (and there are sifakas) but the food is now very basic-after 2 meals one begins to run out of choices.

    Lodge Terres Blanches :was excellent in all respects

    Fishing Residence Majanga: the rooms are good but expensive (50€) and have decent air conditioning. The cheaper bungalows overlook the site of a large and often used bonfire and at least one leaks badly when it rains

  16. Louise Fox said,

    28 October 2012 at 2:39 pm

    Was glad to discover that I could still get half price internal air tickets because I had flown into the country on Air Madagascar. Only draw back is that a travel agent can no longer issue the ticket and you have to go to an Air Madagascar office – very very long queues – you can always send a runner.

  17. Louise Fox said,

    28 October 2012 at 2:35 pm

    Delicious lunch at the Aquarium (up market) with 5 star service in the Hotel Gregoire.

  18. Louise Fox said,

    28 October 2012 at 2:25 pm

    In Morondava I stayed at Renala hotel which is right on the beach and several rooms have aircon. Ar 100 000 for the room plus an additional Ar40 000 for the aircon even if you do not use it.

    The second night at Kimony Resort which is trying to be eco friendly and heat water by solar. The hostess informs you to run the water for 10 minutes before you get hot water – never got any and not sure how wasting all that water is eco friendly! They are currently building a small zoo. Past the airport and down a very bad road and feels a long way out of town. Room cost Ar 170 000. (large comfortable bungalow)

  19. Louise Fox said,

    28 October 2012 at 2:15 pm

    Stayed at the Princesse Tsiribihina hotel on the outskirts of Miandrivazo. Very clean and comfortable with a lovely view over the valley, although it gets the full afternoon sun. Electricity runs on a generator. A luke warm swimming pool was a relief from the intense heat. Room price Ar70 000. Tel: 020 22 262 97 or 032 04 828 45

  20. Louise Fox said,

    28 October 2012 at 1:56 pm

    Discovered a great bar and place to eat in Mahajanga, the Irish Bar. Good and simple food. Delicious fresh fish.

    Visited Soupcon (sp?) shop with a good selection of silk, raffia and crafts situated in front of you as you leave the airport car park. You do not have to pay the car park fee if you inform them you are going to the shop.

    Karibu Hotel is a great upmarket place to stay and serve a good lunch on an open deck. (dinner you get eaten by mozzies)

    I did not venture to Chez Chabaud in Katsepy which is now run by the daughter as the reports were very poor. It was the worst meal that my parents had in Madagascar!

  21. Daniel Austin said,

    24 October 2012 at 10:59 am

    The road to Morondava (via Miandrivazo) is now excellent virtually all the way, with only a few potholed sections. In a private vehicle it is now possible to reach Morondava from Antananarivo (701km) in around 10 hours non-stop.
    Travelling this route by taxi-brousse (44,000Ar) still takes around 17 hours, however, including a stop for dinner. This is because the taxi-brousses need to leave mid-afternoon in order to pass the first section of the RN7 in daylight (there have been several attacks on taxi-brousses passing this stretch at night, but now there are gendarme checkpoints every 15km or so). After dark at Betafo, a little way after Antsirabe, taxi-brousses pause for an hour or more until a large group of buses has gathered, then they move off in a convoy of 10–20 vehicles, occasionally pausing at safe spots (towns or checkpoints) to regroup. Come sunrise, the convoy fragments, and the taxi-brousses typically arrive in Morondava between 8am and 9am.
    Although no vehicle attacks have specifically targeted tourists, night-time travel is generally not advisable in Madagascar in the present situation. But unfortunately there is no daytime option between Tana and Morondava unless you have your own vehicle.

  22. Kris & Helaine Cadman said,

    15 February 2012 at 8:47 pm

    Ankarafantsika: The accommodation was by far the most expensive of our trip (100,000AR/night) and at the lowest end for cleanliness. The first bungalow had a broken toilet seat (half the seat was missing) with sharp edges while the second had no toilet seat at all. The staff thought it amusing that we did not accept these. The third had a toilet seat, but it was obvious the room had not been cleaned for some time. We had to ask for toilet paper and towels at reception and were told if we wanted any cleaning done, we had to arrange it with the “femme de chambre” ourselves.
    We were assigned a guide, Romain, who was very pushy and irritating. It did not seem possible to change him for another guide. One climb was difficult in places as cattle had destroyed one of the paths at its steepest point. Serious faults in guiding included scaring a kingfisher away by getting the boat too close in spite of our protests and injuring/killing two different species of butterflies while attempting to open their wings with a stick, again against our protests. We did report this to the receptionist who said he would deal with the matter, but…we are worried about standards at this park.
    The best wildlife viewing was at our bungalow which the Coquerel’s sifakas visited on each of two afternoons. There is also a birdwatching tower which we found for ourselves. A massive breeding colony of cattle egrets is there with some glossy ibis. We also saw two more species of lemur which came to inspect us closely when we climbed the viewing tower.

    Miandrivazo: The route from Tana to Morondava via Miandrivazo had only a few hundred metres left to tar in November, but a short section outside Miandrivazo toward Tana has bad potholes. Hotel Akory Aby, Ampanasana (Telephone: 0204494265 or 033 19 166 91) 30,000AR very basic en suite bungalow with friendly staff. We ate at a Malagasy cafe one night and at Baobab Hotel on the way back where the food was good (but the rooms are not good value).

    Morondavo: Bourganvilliers 44,000AR very poor value with very poor bed and pushy owner so we did not eat here, but at Campannina where we had an excellent dinner and the owner was very welcoming.

    Kirindy Reserve: Bungalow 52,000AR We had a warm welcome at Kirindy where someone asked us what we would like to do and how long we had for activities. Our guide was quietly spoken and loved his work. We had a problem with the researchers (the reverse of problems mentioned in the guide about Ranomafana where tourists apparently caused problems to researchers). The arrogant research students had an unacceptably loud birthday party into the small hours, disturbing the sleep of several tourists from many parts of the world. We have had a written apology from their supervisor so hopefully this will not happen again. It caused us to regrettably cut short our visit to this fascinating park.

  23. Putu Madisha said,

    10 January 2012 at 7:59 am

    Mahajanga Town – Tour Guide

    MR RAZAFIARISON, Marcel Yvon. I met Yvon while he was working at Hotel Soanambo on Ile Sainte-Marie. He was friendly, efficient and helpful. Yvon is starting his own tour guide company in Mahajanga. You can contact him on:
    Email: razmaryvon@yahoo.fr
    Phone: +261 33 23 043 95 / +261 34 64 483 07

  24. Bryan Pready said,

    10 December 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Ankarafantsika – camp site
    Pitches OK but your description of showers and toilets as “nice” is rather generous! On recent visit, all but one shower, and most of the toilets were locked and keys couldn’t be obtained because office closed. Lights and water went off at 10 p.m. and didn’t come back on until 6:30 a.m. (That may not sound late but it is when it’s been light since 4:30 a.m. and you’re planning to set off into the Park at 7:00 a.m.)

  25. Steve C said,

    2 September 2011 at 3:24 pm

    The Renala in Morondava is really quite nice and affordable (more mid-range in price). 30,000 Arirary for a room with ensuite hot shower and toilet. Bungalows are around 55,000. The restaurant, as mentioned in the guidebook, is quite good. This was in August of 2011.

    It is difficult to try to join a tour to Tsingy after arriving in Morondava. You can hire a 4×4 and driver, but I was unable to find any scheduled tours to join. Most operators had pre-arranged bookings from Tana (and maybe Antsirabe) that were private.

    In the Grand Tsingy, the Andamozavaky circuit is currently listed as a 4-hour circuit that costs 40,000 Ar. It can be connected to a second circuit (3 hours, 30,000 Ar) via a 1 hour tour through caves (the Broadway, 30,000 Ar). Total for the full day could be 100,000 Ar in guide fees in addition to the park entrance fee. The circuits will take about half the listed times if you are reasonably fit.

    Agreed, RN 34 between Malaimbandy and Miandrivazo is in good shape minus some areas where the asphalt has serious potholes. Taxi brousse still took almost 12 hours to Antsirabe due to various stops and waiting. Was able to pay 30,000 Ar for a nice van with only 3 rows behind the driver. Pretty comfy.

    • Steve C said,

      6 September 2011 at 6:09 pm

      The taxi brousse I mentioned was from Morondava to Antsirabe.

      Kirindy’s bungalows are 32,000 Ar for shared facilities (no “shower” as stated in the guidebook – there are two stalls where you can bring a bucket and use the tap). Dorm prices had gone up to around 25 or 27 thousand. 2 hour day walk is 12,000 and 2 hour night walk is 20,000. Entrance fee is 20,000 for up to 3 days.

  26. 9 March 2011 at 11:29 am

    Tsingy de Bemaraha:
    Vazimba Hotel: 15 bungalows in 3ha grounds, also offering restaurant, swimming pool and vehicle hire. (mob 033 08 799 48 or 033 08 620 59; email hotel@vazimbahotel.mg; http://www.vazimbahotel.mg)

  27. Sonja Aebersold said,

    5 May 2010 at 1:14 pm

    RN34 Miandrivazo-Malaimbandy

    I was there in April and the street is absolutely fabulous! Around Malaimbandy there is still about 10km of white road, but in good condition and the works are in progress, so in the near future it will be asphalted too.

    In addition in Miandrivazo there is a Galana with diesel!


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