The cheapest way to travel from Tana to Morondava is by public transportation which is taxi brousse.It's a long long way,so if you can sit tight in taxi brousse for long time ,just wake up very early and take the first taxi,so better book in advance.The system is..go to taxi brousse station (ask where is the right station cuz it's different station going north,east, west and south)At station there are many company to choose,most of the time we hardly choose by ourself,it's them that choose us,cuz they all will gather around you immediately since you step foot on the station.Frankly say...at the beginning I was so scary of the scene they came towards us like I'm going to be eaten alive by them.But after few times I learnt that there's nothing to worry about,they are people from each company competing to take you to buy ticket from their company ..that's it.So don't be afraid, they are ok...just act calm,say hello..and talk to each of them nicely,ask how much each will give and what time they will leave.It depend on you too about what is your preference..like ..if you'd like to sit it the front ,ask which one still have seat available.If you don't mind the seat but prefer to leave as soon as possible ,just ask.I myself prefer to walk to the booth and see the price by myself which attached on the wall and ask everthing there.But many time bargaining finished while I'm walking ,because the way they ask you quite pushing,so just be patient,be nice,no need to be upset,cuz they are ok,they just work their job.Just mind your wallet during busying.
Many travellers didn't get through from Tana to Morondava in 1 time,some stop over in Antsirabe for 1 night or so ,and continue.Some choose to have a night break in Miandrivazo,a middle size town which some tourist go there for departing point for the excursion on Tsiribihina river.Taxi brousse fee from Antsirabe to Miandrivazo 1 way is about 11,000 Ar. and they said it will take alomost whole day.I have no idea how the "whole day" it will be,but I think we'd better stop over somewhere instead of get through.The distance from Tana-Antsirabe is about 120k. from Antsirabe -Miandrivazo is 170k. from Miandrivazo-Morondava is 150k. It's a long way,and the road conditon is not good ,it's bumpy and dusty.The taxi fee from Tana to Morondava 1 way is about 35,000 Ar.If straight through some said it'll be around 16-18 hours. !!! I really prefer to stop over somewhere then,and travelling at night we don't see anything,so I prefer to see scenery around me instead of sitting bumpy in the dark and can't sleep anyway cuz too bumpy.
Flight to Morondava
I flew to Morondava from Tana to save time,it's only 1 hour flying by air Madagascar.Otherwise I have to spend at least 1 full day or 1 and half day to be back to Tana.After asking myself if I need to see any village along those way that much?.. then I decided to pay more (much more)for this route transportation to save time to see another town in different part of the country better.
The flight from Tana MD 702 depart at 06.40. It's ATR aircraft,there are about 12 seatrows,the seat configuration is 2-2 A B .. C D . Boarding passenger at the aft door.There are 2 cabin crew,1male 1 female served a small snack like a pastries and a glass of soft drink,like coke,juice,water tea or coffee..friendly service.
From the sky I looked down to the ground hoping to see some green forest but sadly mostly I saw only bare land with red or brown colour soil.It's a pity..they cut the trees too much.I still want this "blue islands" to keep this name instead of "red islands" in the near future.
After landing,most passenger had somebody to pick them up which is tour company.As for me my hotel send a taxi to pick me up 15,000 Ar. The distance from airport to town center is about 5 km. If without taxi or someone picking you up ,I didn't see any other public transport,even taxi themselves I didn't see much ,not like Tana airport that there are so many taxi around.
At this moment,they are doing road construction from Morondava,and it's plan is to do new surface until Tana.I'm not sure if they'll use only red neat soil like you'll see when you arrive or they'll do with the asphalt later,but that moment it's red soil and it's quite smooth but dusty of course.
All vehicles travelling between Morondava and Tsingy have to cross river for 2 times.If coming from Morondava we have to do car ferry first at Belo sur Tsiribihina.We'll be on ferry boat quite long ,they'll cruise along the river for about half an hour,make us be able to see life and things along the Tsiribihina river.If lucky you may see crockodile on the river bank,so ..look well.The ferry boat they use is simple,just attached 4 long boat together,put wood platform on them,that's it.(2 long boat to be 1 ferry boat) After finish boarding ,1 ferry can carry about 3 cars and some cargo and local passengers.They just join the boat and sit down anywhere vacant.
And because this ferry crossing made my 4 wheel in trouble.As in the first picture you may see 2 iron bar they put between the river bank and the ferry.One of them on the left was not in the right position, it's a little decline to the left.I saw already before boarding and little worried about safty.I wanted to get off the car for my own safty and to make the car lighter ,and easier to drive,but my driver said it's ok.Finally we can be on the ferry,not falling into the river...but I heard "Crank" sound during passing that point.Since then my driver start to be quiet and look like he worrying about something.Yes,trouble happened..somewhere on the rough part ,about 10km. before reaching 2nd. ferry crossing,my car had broke down finally .Some part of car fallen down on the floor!!..I don't know tecnical term how they call it.It's part of bar that connect to main bar when we change gear ,sorry I don't know how to explain,lets say ..it's just fall off and my driver Jeff tried hard to put it back but failed.Many cars passing by ,stop and all try to help but useless.I started to be worried cuz it's going to be dark.I just hope if any car passing by were kind to let us join the ride to Bekopaka village.It's not easy to just hitch hike,even all of them saw us but they couldn't offer any help much, cuz most of them were with 4-6 passengers.But finally a very kind driver who stop to help us fixing our car quite long and has only 2 passengers and a guide.After hopelessly fixing the car,driver asked each other if they can let us join.Those 2 passeger are french couple were so kind to us ,let us and our backpack squeeze in their 4 wheel,my driver has to sit on the roof,....poor Jeff.So.. we arrive 2nd ferry just in time to take beautiful picture of sun set.The french couple said thankful to us that if without us,they will not have this chance to get this moment of sun set by the river.As shown in the picture in the next tip.
Road to Tsingy 2
I just want to show you some other picture I took along the way to Tsingy.The first picture is when our ferry about to reach the north bank of Tsiribihina river.You'll see people were loading cargo and boarding the cars ready to go back to Morondava.
2.Many more cars waiting for ferry.
3.Belo sur Tsiribihina village.
4.This is the most famous restaurant that almost all driver bring their tourist to have lunch here.It's Karibo hotel and restaurant,own by malagasy.They have rooms right next to restaurant area which can be little noisy.There are rooms upstair as well.The food price are not as cheap as it should be cuz it's just a small town.I expect something cheaper,but food quality are so good..clean and very tasty,even not much choice but everything look nice and delicious.I ordered king prawn(they said from this river) cost 12,000 Ar. My mate ordered grill zebu,same price ,all served with some fried vegetable,and some baguettes.The volume of food quite a lot,can fulfill hungry me very well.
5.There are quite many termite mounds along the route from Belo sur to Tsingy.
Road to Tsingy 3
Here are some other picture continuing from the former tip.The first picture you can see how bad condition road it was.
2.Resting under a big tree shade.My driver checked his engine and looked nervous,but he kept saying no problem.Toilet is everwhere around the bush,but be careful ,there are always local may passing by, cuz there's a small stream near by.People come to take bath and wash the cloths not far from this point.When we passed the stream a naked young man was about to take his bath,he was shy that we saw him. : )
3.Oh! ..be careful!! a chameleon crossing... !!.. with a full speed of 0.000001 km. per hour..! : ) so we have chance to stop our car again and rest a little bit more ,waiting for him to finish his crossing safly.
4.We stop and help giving some tools for this breakdown.It looked so serious,they had to take the wheels out and so some parts I don't know what.There were about 10 local passengers with them.I hope for them and for myself too,not being the same.But finally ,not long after them our car bumped on a bad road ,some part of bar beneat hit the rock and fell off the ground and the car couldn't move on anymore.
5.We were help from a very kind french couple who love to travel after retirement.They like to take picture as well especially sunset time ,same as me.I love sunset moment and we all glad that during waiting to cross 2nd ferry crossing,we have chance to take good moment at the small beach for sunset.I completely forget about my car broken down,..just enjoy the moment with small local children coming to chat with us.
Road to Tsingy 1
Before travelling to Tsingy I couldn't immagine how the road condition will be.Here are some pictures.The first picture you'll see a taxi brousse ,yes..they run there but only until the first river crossing (at Belo sur) , the road condition is dusty,sandy, rocky and bumpy but still well enough to drive,but the road condition after crossing is much worse,especially in rainy season,the section after crossing is impassable.They said even by 4 wheel drive also impossible.They have to deliver all foods and supplies before rainy season start to live without any diliver for the whole rainy season. We really need 4 wheel drive along the route from Belo sur to Tsingy.That make me thinking before travelling how I can reach Tsingy.I try to find out if any public transport can bring me there ,but look like none,except do the hitch hiking.Finally after considerring well ,I decide to pay for car with driver for 5 days.Many tourists did the the same like I did,but most people I met came with tour company which provide them everything...car ,tour,meals and accomodation for the whole trip.One thing I noticed was.. they got better condition of 4 wheel than I got.This is one disadvantage of choosing the vehicle from small town.