RN7 AND THE EAST TRAIN – 13 DAYS

From 2 to 12 persons.

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This tour is an invitation to discover the incredible diversity of the Great Island: hikes in the fertile Highlands and the rippling rice fields, quiet villages and children laughs, train crossing towards the lush of the East coast, quiet navigation by canoe on the Canal des Pangalanes which watersides planted with spices and coffee, strange and attractive nature of the great Ranomafana rainforest in contrast with the arid plateau of Horombe, walking through beautiful canyons of Isalo eroded by water, route to Mozambique Channel with singular tombs.

Our last stop to enjoy the seaside is the turquoise lagoon of Ifaty on the lands of Vezo fishermen.

Highlights

  • Landscapes of the Highlands of Madagascar
  • A picturesque train to the East Coast
  • Hiking in Isalo National Park
  • Ifaty turquoise lagoon and the Mozambique Channel

Travel identity card

  • Duration: 13 days
  • Participant: From 2 persons
  • Guiding: English-speaking Malagasy Guide
  • Accommodation: Hotel standard or superior
  • Transport: 4×4 or bus or minibus
  • Period: All year
  • Effort = 1

    “Easy”This trip is accessible to all. However, we ask you to be healthy.
    It is a journey of discovery and short hikes are scheduled for site visits.
    Madagascar is large, the steps in a vehicle can sometimes be a little long.

  • Confort = 4

    “Standard”All nights are in hotels. The accommodations and/or the hotel are good categories and equivalent to 2 or 3 stars international standards.
    Dinner in restaurant, lunch at the restaurant and / or picnic.
    Travel take place in comfortable vehicle on roads and/or on relatively good tracks.

Day 1: Antananarivo > Antsirabe

Meeting with your guide.

We have breakfast in the hotel and start heading south passing through Antananarivo.

Rice fields and typical villages of the Highlands represent the landscape right after Antananarivo.

We stop in Ambatolampy to discover the rather amazing work of aluminum to make cooking pot for the whole country.

We take lunch in town. Continuation towards Antsirabe in the afternoon.

We take our time for a city tour and experience “pousse-pousse” (rick shaw) riding for those who want, it is the main transport for locals.

  • Duration: +/- 3h
  • Distance: 170 km

Day 2: Walking in the Highlands

Why Highlands? Simply because it has the emblematic scenery of Madagascar, a unique landscape composed of different hills with crest lines, villages on the slope, houses made of bricks and thatch roof, colorful valley with rice fields: green, ochre, red, beige…

These magnificent hikes take us to the countryside world with authentic colors, meeting local people who enjoy discussing with visitors.

We can see women carrying bucket water on the head as in Africa, farmers working in their rice fields and sometimes we meet blacksmiths working on the same process for ages.

The walk is organised by a local association, a partnership with young guides from the area so then we contribute partly to the development of the region.

  • Duration: from 6 to 7h walk
  • We organise your picnic lunch

Day 3: Antsirabe > Fianarantsoa

We keep going on the National Road 7 and progress towards the south.

We shop in Zafimaniry artisans boutiques in Ambositra village looking for a piece of carved wood, or fine work of marquetry box.

Take time to wander around in the village and get lunch in a loca restaurant where you have the opportunity to taste local specialties.

We continue to Fianarantsoa in Betsileo region, the main tribe on the south part of the Highlands of Madagascar. we have a winding road; we are close to the highest summit of the Great Island.

  • Duration: +/- 4h
  • Distance: 230 km

Day 4: The train Fianarantsoa > Manakara

The railway Manakara-Fianarantsoa was built between 1926 to 1936, it passes through one of the most beautiful landscapes in Madagascar between the Indian Ocean and the highlands. We start the ride from Sahambavy station for a picturesque and colorful trip. You have seats in the first class car of outmoded charm. The diesel locomotive makes its way with whistles through the rice fields and tea plantations. A major part of the journey happens in the heart of the primary forest in a splendid setting with deep cliffs, villages, waterfalls, including the Faraony  waterfall, which is one of the most attractive in Madagascar. The cultures are omnipresent and we evolve between banana, coffee, jackfruit, orange, litchi plantations.  In every station stop, itinerant sellers try to sell you their cooking specialties such as samosa, banana fritters, crayfish, fruits.  Although you brought your picnic lunch, you can taste some of these savors. The itinerary in numbers: 163 km long, 1200 m difference in height with 48 tunnels, of which that of Andrambovato which extends over 1 kilometer, 68 bridges and 12 stations all ones more picturesque than the others. 

The average speed is between 20 to 30 km per hour. You will arrive at best, 10 hours later to the seaside town of Manakara. 

Please note that this train is capricious. It can be delayed or canceled at the last minute

  • Duration: Minimum 10 hours
  • Distance: 163 km
  • We organise your picnic lunch

Day 5: Day trip on the Pangalanes Channel

Transfer to the landing stage where we take a dugout. The “canal des Pangalanes” is running along the east coast of Madagascar from Foulpointe in the north and Farafangana in the south. This riverway is 665 km long, it is much safer than the tumbling Indian Ocean. General Gallieniundertook that giant works to link a chain of lakes when he was a governor of Madagascar at the beginning of twentieth century. The canal was build at the begining to make the trading easy between coastal small towns and to get strategic control of isolated areas as well. This riverway is unfortunately sank into oblivion nowadays because of lack of maintenance mainly between Mananjary and Manakara, the flow is much more difficult. In the middle of a real exceptional vegetation, the Canal des Pangalanes gives us the opportunity to discover locals living in harmony with the nature. We meet some barges, taxi boats, dugouts and rafts taking local products as banana, other fruits, manioc, fish and ravinala leaves to the closest towns.

  • Duration: full day
  • We organise your picnic lunch

Day 6: Manakara > Ranomafana national park

We leave the seaside vegetation scenery by the Ravinala (travelers’ palm) road to get into eastern rainforest of Madagascar .

We arrive in Ranomafana village in the afternoon, the name means” hot water”.

We stroll around the village and take our time to visit the thermal station. If you want to take a hot bath, it is quite possible !

  • Duration: +/- 4h
  • Distance: 180 km

Day 7: Ranomafana national park > Ambalavao

We got to Ranomafana National Park gate after a drive. This is one of the most beautiful sites that the primary forest and rainforest in Madagascar can offer. We walk into the park with a local guide in this very humid environment. You should take your rain cape for the visit. We can find many species of lemurs as the Golden bamboo lemur (Hapalemur aureus), the red-fronted brown lemur (Eulemur fulvus), red-bellied lemur(Eulemur rubriventer) and we can also meet  some rare and endangered species as the Greater bamboo lemur (Hapalemur simus). In botanical terms, the park is the a genetic reservoir of some rare and endemic plant species, but also many medicinal plants. We drive back to the main road N7 after to reach Fianarantsoa town and then the small town of Ambalavao.

  • Duration: +/-3h visit and +/- 3h drive
  • Distance: 120 km

Day 8: Ambalavao > Anja reserve > Ranohira

At Ambalavao, we visit the Antemoro paper factory .

The secular process to make this paper by the bark of mulberry tree Avoha (Bosqueia danguyana) was introduced in Madagascar in the XVth century by the first Arabic migrants to retranscribe the Koran.

It is still made using the same processes in Ambalavao.

Meet some lemurs in Anja small Reserve at these huge granite rock foothills.

We continue towards the southwest and enter the Barâ region. We cross the largest plateau of Madagascar constituted by a beautiful herbaceous steppe, topped with huge termite nests: it is IHorombe.

We arrive in the village of Ranohira which is close to Isalo massif and the National Park entrance.

  • Duration: +/- 6h
  • Distance: 250 km

Day 9: visit of Isalo national park

A short drive to join Isalo foothill.

We start the walk quietly with a small rucksack, through impressive landscape, canyons, natural pool and magic rock erosion.

Isalo ruin form massif is a continental sandstone plateau from Jurassic period.

There are many rock formations with different shapes here. Nature has adapted to a dry climate.

This park has a different ecosystem, endemic rupicolous flora such as Aloe, Euphorbia, Pachypodium and Kalanchoe … We picnic in the Tapia forest. Some walks are possible around, going up to summits gives splendid view.

NB: Walk pace and duration depend on clients (minimum 2h). The guide will advise you.

  • Duration: from 2 to 4h of hike, according to your wishes !
  • We organise your picnic lunch

Day 10: Ranohira > Tuléar > Ifaty

We progress to the south west towards the Mozambique Channel.

Drive on 245 km from Ranohira to Tuléar through different botanical settings in the morning.

We stop on the way to see Mahafaly tribe typical tombs so nicely painted and decorated, on which are erected some amazing wooden sculptures. The sea can be seen from far away before we reach Tuléar.

Walk around to the market before taking lunch.

Sandy road along the coast leads us to Ifaty. Installation to the hotel, almost feet in the water.

  • Duration: +/- 6h
  • Distance: 280 km

Days 11 and 12: Days at leisure at Ifaty

You can explore different activities from the hotel during the day at leisure on the edges of Mozambique channel. If you want to take advantage of the sea and lagoon: diving, dugout ride with Vezo fishermen, swim or just idleness. Hikers can discover inside land, a specific and extraordinary vegetation composed of euphorbia, baobab, didieracea, aloes … In the south, the thorns are kings.

Day 13: Ifaty > Tulear > Antananarivo

Morning at leisure and transfer to the airport organised by the hotel.

Fly to the capital.

 

  • Duration:  +/-30mn drive and 1h15 flight

Include:

  • A driver/guide and his vehicle all along the trip,
  • Accommodation according your choice (Standard or Superior),
  • National parks and indicated sites fees,
  • The train from Fianarantsoa to Manakara,
  • Day trip by canoe on the Canal des Pangalanes,
  • Local guides in Parks,
  • All transfers.

Not include:

  • International and domestic flights,
  • Optional activities in Ifaty,
  • Tips and drinks,
  • Your personal insurances,
  • The visa: +/- 35 €

RESERVATION – CONFIRMATION

Reservation: Please use the form below to book your trip or change this itinerary. We will respond within 24 hours.

Confirmation: It will be effective upon receipt of the completed registration form that we will send you, as well as a deposit of 30% of the total amount of the price of the travel.

Confirm a trip with SENSE OF OCEANS MADAGASCAR involves having read and accepted the Terms and Conditions.

The general sales terms and conditions can be found here : Terms & conditions

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To prepare for your trip, we invite you to read our NEED TO KNOW section


  You with us !  For each person, for each trip, we take 2€ from our margin for the sponsorship of one hectare of primary forest for one year near the Andasibe / Périnet park. More info here

Price for this trip: from 1 176 €

Price per person | For a group of 4 people

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