Taxi-brousses are not a miracle- solution
One knows it, a trip to Madagascar is expensive.
As a solution, travellers are now tempted to pay for the expensive air ticket to the mythical, dream island and use dead-cheap transportation means. It is sthg I understand but bear in mind that taxi-brousses are not panacea, esp. if you travel there for 2 weeks and that you intend to go through many spots of the island. Roadtrips this way are dead cheap but not comfy all the time. Look at my picture, taxi-brousses are not all like this mini-van. On some portions of RN7 (Tana- Big Southern area), taxi-brousses are huge trucks, loaded with people... Yeah! trucks, not coaches.
Here and there, tourists who planned to travel by taxi-brousses *only*, eventually, ended up turning down half of their plan. They then travelled the first half by taxi-brousses but changed plan and hired 4WD with driver for the rest of the roadtrips. It is common that even backpacking hardliners end digging into that last minute change.
Unique Suggestions: - Choose a sedan as taxi- brousse, or a mini-van or a 4WD (private rental services). It is possible to arrange with other passengers the cost of a 4WD hiring.
Yet, if you are taking a taxi-brousse in a remote area and don't have any choice but the truck:
- Socialize in the truck. Will help you to "entertain" yourself. :)
- If possible, have some walk when there are halts on your itinerary because sitting in the back of a huge truck is not that comfy.
- Bear in mind that a taxi-brousse in remote areas has all power to unexpectedly drop you in the middle of nowhere (well, a dive in a small village). You looked for adventure, no? You have it! :) But just be prepared to that.
Fun Alternatives: Carefully consider transportation means combination according to your budget, your time. Also, never aim too big in Madagascar. IMHO, better travel to few places but you would come to know well, for hiring a guide for instance, instead of wasting your time (say, 8 hours in a truck-brousse) in transportation for only 1 day in a place. For sure, this is one of travels you have to carefully plan.
For instance, there are distances you can easily do with taxi-brousse because roads are well-kept (Tana-Toamasina, Tana-Antsirabe, Tana-Fianarantsoa). On other lines (like Toliara- Taolagnaro/ Fort Dauphin, Fianarantsoa-Ranomafana-Manakara), it's tiring within those trucks esp. in rainy season.
To explore the South, either take your time when roadtripping (taxi-brousse and train combination), either less time but hire a car with driver.
The train is more comfortable and cheaper than taxi-brousse sometimes. Plus, government undertook lately investments and rehabilitation works. It seems like a renewal has come, as for the national rail company (that would be now privatized, if I am not wrong).
Three rail lines from Tana in Madagascar:
- Tana-Toamasina (usually closed in rainy summer for fear of erosion...)
- Fianar-Manakara (off beat track and hugely rehabilitated in 2003). It doesn't depart from Tana but it is worth the trip, do check the link I gave you above.
If you are into a "truck-brousse only" mood when starting and that you have time, plan extra-money in case you shift plans. You may add days in hotels to relax/ recover or go for more comfortable transportation means. In both cases, it would cost more than the truck.Related to:
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
In Antananarivo, Antsirabe cities, streetvendors..
In cities such as Antananarivo and Antsirabe, streetvendors may be a concern. I find them a bit intrusive sometimes.
Fruits are only food items you will buy from them. Pay attention to weighing though :-) I remembered of a practice on tangerine. Some streetvendors injected water with a syringe needle so as to fill interstices between tangerine slices. That way, one tangerine weighed more than it should be. Bargained price was not a problem for them. I don't know whether this is still topical. This used to happen in the past. I still laugh thinking of it *lol*
Beware of fake gem stones sold in the streets, esp. in Antsirabe.
Unique Suggestions: Bargain the prices of stones
Ask to peel a tangerine. Choose the fruit by yourself ad peel to see.
Fun Alternatives: For stones, ask to go to established shops OR learn how to recognize true from fake stones.
For fruits, pay attention to scale system. Buying fruit is NOT something I discourage you to do. Then, common sense, folks: wash the fruit, peel it then, only eat.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
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