How I would love to take the Tana-Andasibe train!
By now, it should be blindingly obvious to anyone reading my travel pages that I have a thing for trains! So, it is with great frustration that I report the existence of a functioning passenger train service in Madagascar that I didn't get the chance to road (or should that be 'rail') test!
In the excellent tourist office in the newly renovated train station in Tana (note the consistent theme!), I picked up a postcard advertising a tiny train (La Micheline Viko-Viko) that runs periodically between Tana and Andasibe. If the pictures be believed, it is the weirdest-looking thing: rather like an American-style schoolbus which has had its wheels removed before being painted a surgical white and having a bright red 'cow catcher' attached to the front!
The schedule suggests that this service was running about once a week in July and August, departing one day, and returning the next so that you can overnight. The same train also travels between Tana and Antsirabe - during July and August, this ran about once a month. I don't recall exactly what the price was - by this point I was so frustrated that we'd discovered something so exciting that we couldn't fit into our available time frame that I wasn't retaining detail too well - but it did strike me as being fairly reasonable, especially for an experience so unique.
If I recall, the journey time was about 4 hours (although I would treat any time estimate relating to Malagasy public transport with some caution). I would suggest that you contact the e-mail address or phone number given below to confirm dates/times and prices.
I can't decide whether or not I'd like to hear from you if you are lucky enough to take this train - on balance, I think so, if only to confirm that this is a factor that we should plan around for our next trip to Madagascar!
By Taxi Brousse from Antananarivo
If you don't come by tour you have to go to the eastern Taxi Brousse terminal (by taxi from the center about 6000 Ariany) and take a very crowded minibus (5000 Ariany and 3 hours, take 2 seats if you need more space) to Moramanga, from an other one (1 hour and 2000 Ariany) to Andasibe.
If you want to go from Andasibe to the coast you should go back to Moramanga in the early morning (if to late you habe to spend a night there) and take a Taxi Brousse from there.
- Budget Travel
- National/State Park
For Railway fans
There is a train to the coast but not until Toamasina, probably mondays and thursdays, leaving around 15 pm, 10000 Ariary (€ 3,50). The train returns on the following day probably until Mormanga.
There is also a more expensive tourist train probably on saturday returning on sunday from Atananariva to Andasibe, you might have to book the return trip in Antananarivo.
- National/State Park
Ghost cars, zebu carts while taking a bend
Pay attention to phantom cars, ox carts while taking a bend... if you choose to drive to Andasibe, and Eastern region, in general.
I know, landscape is fascinating, road in Tana-Toamasina route is superb but really curvy. Even in daylights, other "drivers" may surprise you. Be it ghost cars or ox carts.
Don't drive so fast, especially when taking bends since truck drivers are sometimes sleeping (yes!). They don't sound their horns. And while driving at night, some just forget to put on lights. That may create problems since Tana-Toamasina is so curvy.
Well, as for carts, you just have to know that they are driven in same roads as yours. No horns, no lights.. but part of the traffic.
I would say that, for once, this Route nationale 2, RN2 that liaises Tana to Toamasina (eastern city), is dangerous for it being in good shape (slippery and curvy). Plus, it's tempting to drive fast there but don't do so. Also, for this region being the most humid of all, the roads are made slippery even more.
- Work Abroad
- Road Trip
Road trip by 4*4, taxi-brousse
They are my favourite transportation means to hop from a city to another since they allow you to see landscapes. Besides, travelling by taxi-brousse with other passengers is a good way to know about Malagasy people since this transportation means is used by Malagasy of all kinds.
Especially on RN2 (Route Nationale 2, that liaises Tana and eastern city Toamasina), the road is in good shape (too good, indeed) that it is comfortable to ride- drive on it.
EITHER book seats within taxi-brousse companies or associations in Tana. Be careful to book in advance since this is a really sought-after means (cheaper, adventure). It's quite strange but they are professional (on time, in contrary of other services). Taxi-brousses are often cars like a sedan with 8-9 seats or vans.
In Tana, book your seats at taxi-brousses station in Ambodivona. This station is dealing with roadtrips to Northern parts (Antsiranana), North-West (Mahajanga) and Eastern parts (Toamasina). I think departures would be there as well.
Antananarivo-Andasibe area: 140 km.
Antananarivo-Toamasina city: 372 km.
Best choice for backpackers and budget travellers (along with railtrip, no sure this one works already or not).
I think that you will have to do Tana-Moramanga by taxi-brousse. Then at Moramanga, hire a local cab to Andasibe.
EITHER, rent a sedan car with a chauffeur-guide who will show you around cities. Best choice if you travel with kids.
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip