Madagascar Updates: Chapter 10

Madagascar, 11th edition

Please use the comments facility below to submit updates to chapter 10 (Tana to Toamasina) of Madagascar (11th ed).

To comment on other chapters visit the main Madagascar Updates page.

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9 Comments

  1. Paul Whitehead said,

    1 February 2016 at 11:33 am

    I recommend the Voi Mma park, in Andasibe, and I feel that the guide is rather unfairly dismissive of it. It is a villagers’ cooperative, and we had an great 3 hour visit, which at 30,000 for three of us was excellent value. Patrice was a wonderful guide who, together with his colleague who went ahead imitating lemur calls to attract them, showed us the indri-indri up really close, as well as the common brown lemurs, chameleons, frogs and a host of other flora and fauna. The park also has something that the National Park and Mitsinjo Forest doesn’t have – an Arbre Sacre where people pray for good luck, fertility etc. Zebu are sacrificed if the wish is granted. According to the guide, the tree changes its leaves every few months, disguising itself as another species, and is unknown to science. Will have to take his word on that one!

  2. Daniel Austin said,

    4 December 2014 at 12:25 am

    The premium scheduled bus service operated by TLM between Tana and Toamasina departs Tana (Palm Hotel) at 07.00 and arrives Toamasina (Miray Hotel) at 14:35. The return journey departs at 07.00 and arrives at 15.00. Every journey made with TLM contributes to the carbon offsetting programme of the NGO MATE.

  3. Daniel Austin said,

    4 December 2014 at 12:18 am

    The rubber-tyred Micheline train had an accident some months ago and could not be repaired. It is sadly no longer operating any service.

  4. 3 November 2013 at 5:21 am

    Mitsinjo also has excellent camping facilities, including a new bathroom-shower area (hot showers I think!). Unfortunately no restaurant, but no problem if you have your own camping stove and food, or walk up the road to Feon y’ Ala hotel, or the restaurants associated with the other little hotels nearby.

  5. 3 November 2013 at 5:20 am

    I recommend the community run VOIMMA park adjacent to Andasibe NP as another good place to see indi and other wildlife in the company of knowledgeable local guides. This park is between Andasibe NP and the village of the same name. Very reasonable rates, similar to Mitsinjo Reserve (on the other side of the road from Andasibe NP). In both Mitsinjo and VOIMMA, you don’t pay park entry fees. You just pay for your guide and any additional tips you feel they have earned.

    Tree climbing (“acro-branch”) is available at Mitsinjo, but it seems it is currently not possible to spend the night in the tree tops in hammocks. Zipline (flying fox) is also still available. Both activities run by local guides based in Andasibe, trained by the French team that originally ran these activities at Mitsinjo. Good new harnesses and equipment! This was in early September 2013.

  6. Connie said,

    25 July 2013 at 4:11 am

    Vakona Forest Lodge was not only beautiful, but the food was delicious. The bungalow was clean and well appointed. The grounds are beautiful, even in July! If I ever get back to Madagascar, I would definitely include another stay here! Also, Jean Claude, our guide in Andasibe,National Park, was excellent! He was considerate of me as we hiked, at one time helping me down a steep path so I could see a kingfisher he had spotted. He spent extra time with us when 5 brown lemurs were walking on the trail ahead of us and we stopped to marvel at this sight, something he or my son, who has lived in Madagascar 3+ years, have never seen! We also watched them go down to the streams edge and lap the water. He was astounded and said he’d only heard of this rarely!

  7. INDRITECH said,

    4 February 2013 at 8:17 am

    2013, everythings changed.
    High speed internet at INDRITECH/VOHIKALA ( http://www.vohikala.net ) with ORANGE Madagascar (3Mbps). Check your email in only 50 second. For member 1mn cost 20 Ariary, not member 1mn cost 50 Ariary, for foreign 1mn cost 100Ariary (40 Ariary is helping local Radio station for environnemental education). Also WIFI is at your disposal with the same price above (i phone, laptop, ipad, etc…), skype or other online discussion works properly.

  8. Daniel Austin said,

    23 December 2012 at 11:03 pm

    Travelling the full length of Route Nationale 2 (RN2) takes you the 358km from Antananarivo to Toamasina (Tamatave). The road surface and bridges were repaired in 2006 with EU assistance and it is still in a good state with only a very occasional pothole. The road is well maintained because it connects Madagascar’s capital city with its largest port, and as such it is continually busy with container trucks, fuel tankers, and fleets of newly imported 4x4s.
    The journey is covered at 1:500,000 scale by FTM maps 6 and 8, and at 1:100,000 scale by maps P47, Q47, R47, S47, T47, U47, U46, U45 and V45.
    There is also a railway which connects the cities of Antananarivo and Toamasina (although only the Moramanga to Toamasina section runs a regular passenger service at present) and this line runs directly alongside the road in many sections. Indeed, in four places (PK44, PK50, PK107 and PK248) it crosses the road on level crossings.
    Leaving Tana, there are at least half a dozen fuel stations strung out along the first 16km of the road. Once beyond the city limits, you pass through bare hills and rice paddies. At PK28 is the little village of Nandihizania and, 2km further on, the small, curiously named town of Carion. The road climbs up to PK35½, where the RN2 reaches its highest point at an elevation of 1,560 metres.
    At PK41 you get to Sambaina, declared by the United Nations as a ‘Millennium Village’ in 2005 to be developed as a leading international project in the field of poverty eradication through the application of Information and Communication Technologies. Among the achievements of this project are the inauguration of a ‘digital classroom’ for 600 teenage students, a community cyber-centre at the town hall, computer facilities and ‘telemedicine’ for the health centre, and developments in local e-governance. On the outskirts of Sambaina is restaurant Pizzanino (PK42½).
    Then there is a sprawling town called Manjakandriana (PK48) which has a Total fuel station, BOA bank, pharmacy, post office, railway station and several shops. This is where you turn south if you are heading for Lake Mantasoa.
    After the small town of Ambatolaona (PK58), the landscape rapidly becomes more forested. There is also an alternative route to Mantasoa starting from here. A couple of kilometres further on is Mandraka Park (PK60), where activities include trekking, boating and tree-climbing. There are picnic facilities and a pizzeria. Just beyond, on the other side of the little village of Andasibe (PK61; not to be confused with the famous Andasibe National Park and nearby village of the same name) is a small botanical site called Park of Orchids (PK63½) where there are also waterfalls.
    Much of the RN2 – and especially this section – is very winding. Be sure to take travel sickness tablets in advance of your journey if you are prone to suffer on such journeys.
    Shortly beyond the orchid park, you pass a dam for a hydroelectric power plant (PK67), then drop down to Madagascar Exotic (PK72), a facility which farms reptiles and other animals for export into the pet trade.
    Nearby is Ambodiamontana (PK73), a small town with Malagasy food available at Hotel Fitiahana.
    From here, the road follows the Manambolo river for another 15km or so, during which you pass through Ambohitsitompo village (PK76) and the small towns of Anjiro (“place of electricity”; PK78) and Ambodinifody (PK85).
    Just after PK88 is Plantation Bemasoandro, which was created in 2008 to develop solutions to a number of environmental problems, especially that of erosion by the planting of vetiver grass (web: http://www.vetiver-madagascar.com).
    There is accommodation at Rindra Motel at Antandroho (PK93). After this, you cross an 80-metre bridge over the Manambolo river to Mangoro (PK95), and beyond this village more accommodation at Mira hotel (PK99).
    The forest thins out towards Moramanga (PK109–112), the first of only two significant towns along the RN2. It has a large market, several hotels and a couple of restaurants. To reach here from Tana by taxi-brousse costs 5,000Ar and takes about 3hrs. From here to Toamasina costs 12,000Ar and typically takes 6hrs. From Moramanga to Andasibe (for the national park) costs 2,000Ar by taxi-brousse and takes up to 1hr.
    Between Moramanga and the turning for Andasibe National Park is Amparafara village (PK131), Hotel Ravinala (PK134½), Indri Lodge, Grace Lodge, Andasibe Forest Lodge, Eulophiella Lodge and , Art Croco handicraft boutique. At PK136 are three simple eateries and the turning to Andasibe village. Turn here also for Mitsinjo forest, Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, Vakona Lodge, Andasibe Lodge, Feon’ny Ala, Marie Guest House, Luc Guest House, Voatsara hotel, and Buffet de la Gare/Mikalo.
    Climbing a long hill to a village called Morafeno (PK141), the road winds tightly and the forest thins out once again. The reason for the thinning forest is all too evident: lined up alongside the road for much of the next 120km are thousands of sacks of charcoal for sale. The tops of the sacks are stuffed with dry grass to stop the contents from spilling out and protect it from rain.
    Along the next section you can find accommodation at La Cascade hotel (PK144) and plants for sale around the villages of Ambavaniasy village (PK149) and Beforona (160), then you cross an 85-metre bridge over the Ilazana river. The landscape here is pretty much treeless, and remains so all the way to Toamasina, with just secondary scrub and travellers’ palms the dominant vegetation most of the way.
    Ampasimbe town stretches from PK177 to PK179 with a largish market; after that come the villages of Antongombato (PK191), Ranomafana (“hot water”; PK205), Manambonitra (PK216) and Antsampanana (PK281), where the road south to Vatomandry begins.
    Around PK247 fields of maize and other crops indicate that you are entering Brickaville, the second significant town on this national road. There is a Galana fuel station and a relatively respectable hotel-restaurant called Capricorne. Here also is the longest bridge on the RN2, spanning 260 metres across the Rianala river at PK249. The sprawl of the town continues to PK251.
    The elevation now is less than 100 metres above sea level. In this final stretch, seasonal fruit is much more abundant on roadside stalls – including pineapples, bananas and jackfruit. Boys may also be seen at the roadside selling eels and sometime the odd tenrec too.
    There are villages called Analila (PK277) and Sahavalaina (PK280), then around PK291 you will find honey sellers. There are relatively few settlements in these parts. Ampasimadinka is at PK305 and Ambodibonara at PK319. From this village the road follows the Fanandrana river to a town of the same name. Here it meets the Ivondro river, which the road crosses via the RN2’s second longest bridge (210-metre span) at Fanandrana (PK327).
    From PK329 to PK332 you pass through a small coconut palm plantation, then villages called Melville (PK331) and Antanambo (PK333). For a stretch of four kilometres afterwards, colourful woven chairs and stools are sold at the roadside.
    Finally around PK341 you enter the outskirts of Toamasina. There are at least three fuel stations on the way into the town.

  9. Daniel Austin said,

    16 December 2012 at 6:12 pm

    To get to Andasibe from Tana by taxi-brousse costs 5,000Ar as far as Moramanga then 2,000Ar from there to Andasibe.
    The train runs Moramanga to Tamatave on Mondays and Thursdays, and back on Tuesdays and Fridays. The full trip costs 10,000Ar, or from Moramanga just as far as Andasibe it is 4,000Ar.
    On RN2, right opposite the turning for Andasibe, is a simple but pleasant Malagasy restaurant called Frania Esperance (tel: 034 45 753 46).
    Two new guesthouses with very affordable rooms have opened opposite Feon’ny Ala. There is Chez Marie Guest House, under the same ownership as the handicrafts boutique next door. On the other side of Chez Marie Guest House is Chez Luc Guest House (Luc is Marie’s brother).
    The community run section of forest between Mitsinjo/MNP parks and Andasibe village is called VOI MMA (Mitia sy Miaro ny Ala).
    Tree climbing is available again at Andasibe. It costs 70,000Ar for a day’s climbing (and ziplining) 09.00-16.00. You can also spend a night sleeping in a hammock in the rainforest canopy for 100,000Ar. Contact Dilifera Manantsoavina at the Mitsinjo office. It is best to give him at least a day’s notice by phone or email, if possible, so that he can prepare the ropes and harnesses before you arrive: tel: 034 91 548 35 or 034 15 854 24; email: dilphe13@yahoo.com . Dilifera can also organise tree-climbing elsewhere in Madagascar, such as baobabs near Morondava or Toliara, or the high canopy at Masoala. He also assists researchers who need to access the canopy close-up.


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