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A trip within a trip... Going through Horombe plateau is like discovering many countries at same time, in only 41 kms.
The desert plateau of the Horombe stretches as far as the eye can see. As trip goes by, rocky hills with ricefields at their foot (Asia) are replaced by grey stone blocks along with yellow grass in winter (People use to say it is like in South - American Andes). Another face of plateau de l'Horombe: spotted with satrana palm trees and tiny baobabs (African savannah)
BTW, "Horombe" means "Huge grass"...
Another tip: bring many films as you can, you may be short of films.. It would be a pity... as driving through Plateau de l'Horombe is a trip in a trip, so as going across Isalo region..
Updated Feb 24, 2010
Address: At Ihosy junction, choose Toliara direction
Isalo region is located in the South part of Fianarantsoa province, just before entering Toliara's. Its landscape's feature is a series of ruiniform rocks. Winds and rains had made their work on those rocks, by eroding them, so as to provide them with strange shapes. Yellow-to-orange grass with specific palm trees (satrana in Malagasy).
Go there before it all disappears (read my Tangorombohitr'Isalo page)!
- Isalo national Park
A silent park with canyons, home of 50 species of birds, lemurs species (see "Lemurs canyon"), chamilions, geckos as well as plants (such as "Pied d'elephant"). Not to be missed as well: a natural rock pool that receives clear fresh waters from galleries in the rocks.
Take time to visit this park as it's worth it. Something I will do is to return there and take more time to visit (even camp).
- Isalo window
A window- shaped rock through which you will had a nice "view" of the vast park as well.
- La Reine
It's a pity! I saw it but the guide was in another car and did not mention that this haughty feminine-shaped ruiniform rock is La Reine (the Queen).
Ask your tour-operator to arrange this while touring in South part of Madagascar. They call this classic trip "Big South" or "Grand Sud". Or even better, hire a local ANGAP agreed guide. ANGAP stands for "Association Nationale pour la Gestion des Aires Protegees": national association for protected areas management. It would cost you less and money would go to those guys who know about animals, plants, hidden places and best moments to find them.
See below URL to see my page on this Isalo National Park (under Tangorombohitr' Isalo destination)
Updated Feb 24, 2010
372 km to drive through Imerina soil and then lush rainforests. To join Toamasina, 6-hour drive is enough. If you stay in nature reserves in Andasibe, Moramanga, it's up to you to stay in hotels and forest lodges before following your path.
Road uses to be well preserved unless it suffered from cyclones disasters in rainy seasons. Then, drivers encounter collapses and landslides. Within few days following landslides, things will be put in right place thanks to public roadworkers and civil engineering.
Landscape starts with ricefields in plains in Imerina region, eucalyptus forest then from Ambatoloana (59 km from Tana), it will swift into forests. The latter are home of thousands of medicinal plants, orchids, trees, fern, lemurs... Next village is Mantasoa, worth a visit with its lake, industrial area that had been designed by Jean Laborde (see tip on Mantasoa).
Gradually, you will descend to reach coastal area. Up to now, you were in the highlands. But soon, you have to descend Falaise de l'Angavo, (Angavo cliff), in Mandraka. From an average altitude of 1400m, you will reach an intermediary altitude of 900m. Combined actions of heat and humidity keep forests thick. While descending, you will see Mandraka hydraulic barrage.
Next city: Moramanga ("where mangoes are cheap"). Halt for lunch (if you left Tana at 9-10 am) after scenic 115 km drive. See my tips on restaurants in my Faritanin'i Toamasina page.
Next: Andasibe Rainforest Reserve, home to the tallest of lemurs, Indri. Birds, other lemurs and chameleons have their VRPs there as well. From there, landscape is packed with green tiny hills, tropical trees (incl. Ravinala, palmtrees..)
Hire a ANGAP agreed guide. ANGAP stands for "Association Nationale pour la Gestion des Aires Protegees": national association for protected areas management. It would cost you less and money will go to guides, not TOs.
My fave since it is no too long, not tiring and just bucolic. More pics in my "Heading East" Tlogues I, II in my Faritanin'i Toamasina page.
Updated Feb 24, 2010
Address: Route Nationale 2, from Tana to Toamasina
There are around 20 national parks in Madagascar. Be aware that they are different form North America or Europe: they are not huge areas of wilderness with a network of hiking trails where you can wander at will. You can only visit parts of the park with a guide. You will need a permit to visit the reserves and national parks. It is obligatory to be accompanied by a guide, and they also require a fee. Guide prices vary from park to park. You can find a list in the park's office. Additionally it is usual to tip your guide if you are satisfied.
Written Dec 27, 2009
We went down to Tsiribihina a month ago with our trustworthy guide Belaza; it was an unforgatable trip for us since we observed the daily activity of the people along the river, we also trekked to the amazing of Tsingy of Bemaraha which is unique in the world; we ended up our trip along the RN7.
l can say that Madagascar is an amazing country we have visited so far.
If you want tp live such an amazing trip like we did write to our guide at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website ( www.gassitours.com )
Written Sep 5, 2009
Address: South West & East of Madagascar
Nosy komba is a small volcanic ilsland between Nosy Be and the mainland.
It´s a quiet and relaxing place.
The ilsland offers several walking trails, including a hike from Ampangorina to the top of the volcano, and along the tracks connecting the villages in the interior of the island.
Swimmig is possible but the beach near the villages is polluted.
From Nosy komba you can go further to Nosy be by chartering your own pirogue in the village.
Updated Aug 24, 2009
There are many beautifull national parks to visit at Madagaskar. You can only visit the parks with a guide.
Parc National D` andasibe mantadia: a good place to spot lemurs.
Reserve speciale L´ankarana: facinating caves, loads of bat flies, lemurs. etc.
Park national de L´ Isalo: great views over some unusual canyon scenery.
Remember to be kind to nature.
Updated Aug 17, 2009
You will eat well at Madagaskar. Nize Zebu steaks, chicken with vanilla, loads of mangues, lichy fruits etc.
Travelling at Madagaskar you will find many known as well as many new exotic fruits you did never knew existed. A 'funny thing is to go to a lokal market and by all the fuits that you dont know. Then go home and taste them.
When season you can smell the fresh vanilla in most places at the east coast.
Oktober to December is the season for bananas, pineapples, lychees and mangoes (yummi... never forget the delicious mangoes),
Rhum arrange:Rhum with sugar, vanilla beans, honey, and maybe lemon or cononut. Some restaurants or guest houses make their own, and they taste SO GOOD together with a pancake.
Rice is often served with boiled or stewed zebu, chicken, fish, porc or duck.
The malgasy version of soup chinoise is also very good ( noodles, vegetables and sometimes meat or seafood).
Seafood: many kind og fish, shimp, prawns, crabs is available on the coast. Crab with coconut sauce is my favorit dish.
Western food: in the main cities you can find som excellent french menues for a very resonable price.
Updated May 15, 2009
These docile little guys are actually the largest Chameleons in the world. They are indigenous to Madagascar and mainly inhabit the rain forests. They grow to about 40cm and move very slowly. The males have a large helmet like structure called a casque with 2 rounded horns. Their tongues can be longer than their bodies! Makes it easier to catch food. You can pick them up, but try to leave them alone. They are more than happy to pose for photographs.
Updated Apr 26, 2009
Ambalavo is a cute town in the highland. Many of the buildings display the carved balcony balustrades characteristic of the Betsileo architecture.
The town has an amazing Zebumarket. It takes place on Wednesday and Thursday, normally, but it can change.
Other things to visit: "Fabrique de papier Antaimoro". Situated next to the taxi-brousse station. A "factory" were you can see the famous Antaimoro paper being made.
Hiking in the Parc national d´Andringitra !
We arranged a trip to Parc d´Andringitra from Ambalavo. If you are planing to hike in the park, you have to arrange everything by your self. So start by going to the market and by all the food you will need. Then find some kind of transportation to the park. There were no direct public transportation at the time, so we hired a privat car at small local cafe. Ask around if anybody knows somebody with a car !!
When you enter the park, there is a small lodge where you can find a guide.
Updated Mar 16, 2009
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