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 by 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)
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. Still, you can skip the internal expensive flights.Related to:
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
Beware of fake guides in touristy Mahavelona beach
I still wonder myself..
A "guide", one of the boys who tout for clients (tourists and holidaymakers) in Foulpointe beach, told me about a natural pool in the coral reef. I wanted to see and rendez-vous was made. My friends and I stepped on a "pirogue" (little boat) and the "guide" rowed till we reached the "natural pool".
I was disappointed as it seemed to be a not so exceptional spot. I just saw an urchin and a sea cucumber. The guide told me about a water snake and looked for it for a long time. At a moment, he picked from water a long brown stuff, like soft or viscous... I am not sure it was a snake unless this one was sick... It may have been a rotten wood rod or algae or ... I don't know what...
So, I put it here as a tourist trap.
The only best thing I had from this "visit" to see a natural pool is the possibility to take the main picture in my Mahavelona page. Isn'it nice?
Unique Suggestions: I don't know any way to avoid such experience unless ask a hotel a restaurant personnel how it should be (the right location, the price people use to pay for that, a short description)..
Fun Alternatives: Even better, rely on restaurant- hotel personnel to arrange excursions, visits... They would know qualified persons for guiding...Related to:
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Diving and Snorkeling
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