Mada east coast bike ride
Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world with its microclimates, vastly different habitats and a tremendous number of endemic species.
It lies in the Indian Ocean and was formed by continental drift. The international conservation community has singled Madagascar out as one of the ecologically richest countries on the planet.
This bike ride takes you on seven challenging day, approximately 506km in total through the northeast coast of this astonishing island. We cycle through highland villages and paddy fields, lush tropical fruit plantations until the quite splendid Ile Sainte Marie. The road is an exciting combination of tarmac and dusty off road trails. Far away from the modern comforts of daily life, this will be an adventure of a lifetime and worth every single effort, you put in to reach our challenge.
DAY 1 : Antananarivo
Free time today to relax after the long flight. Optional sightseeing tour of Tana. Currency exchange will be provided at the hotel. The team will be introduced to you before dinner and a briefing for the following day will be given to you. Night in a hotel.
DAY 2 : Antananarivo – Mantasoa (Approx 80km – 13km off-road)
A bustling first day – we cycle out of the capital on a busy road sections with some uphills. Once out of the city, the road become much quieter. Most of the first day, we cycle on good tarmac road but more undulating through villages and lush green rice paddies.
As we keep on our way to Mantasoa – our overnight destination, the scenery changes and both side of roads are lined up with grey eucalyptus trees. After 48km, we turn right to direction of Lake Mantasoa in the South. From here, we cycle 13km on red-earth off-road, sharply undulating secondary road passed the small village of Mantasoa up to the lakeshore. Night in a hotel.
DAY 3 : Mantasoa – Andasibe (Approx 95km – 13km off-road)
We retrace back the last 13km of yesterday’s off-road trail to rejoin the RN2. From here, the road is mainly downhill and it winds between lush green forest and bamboo trees. There are more flat and undulating sections in the morning.
After a picnic lunch we cycle through the village of Moramanga, we take long uphill followed by a zigzagging downhill stretch of road. The next 20km are slightly undulating. Then we pass the signpost of Andasibe National Park turning to the left and it is just another 1km to reach our overnight hotel. This evening there is an opportunity to go for an evening tour with the local guide to spot the nocturnal lemurs. Night in a hotel
DAY 4 : Andasibe – Lake Rasoa Be (Approx 86km – 10km tough off-road)
After an early breakfast, we meet our guide at the hotel for a morning-guided tour. We put on our walking shoes to enjoy an 11/2 hour guided walking tour to see the black and white Indri lemurs and enjoy the wildlife.
This is almost the last challenging day of our bike ride as we cycle on road with long gradual uphill and downhills but with some impressive panoramic views over the surrounding hills.
The landscape changes over again as our route is lined up with lush banana and mango trees, lychee trees and endemic Travellers’ palm with its enormous fan-like leaves which are used for roofing for Betsimisaraka tribe.
After lunch, we transfer for approximately 2h by car up to around Brickaville. Then back to our saddle for another challenging last 7km tough off-road mainly downhill towards the sea. We pass through the small village of Manambato to Rasoa Be lakeshore where we have our overnight. Night in a hotel
DAY 5 : Lake Rasoa Be – Tamatave (Approx 104km – 7km tough off-road)
We retrace back our 7km yesterday’s tough off-road, this time uphill. Joining the RN2, our next 30km is mostly flat, straight and lined up with lychee trees and bamboo forest. As we cycle towards Toamasina – another name of Tamatave, the road starts to slightly undulate.
Then we cycle through palm tree plantations and an array of tropical fruits – banana, mango and papaya.
For the 20km, the road evens out and we are getting at Madagascar’s second largest town, Toamasina (known locally as Tamatave) – a lively port buzzing with life. On the outskirts before the entrance of town we regroup and cycle together for 6km on a tarmac road bustled with markets, cyclists, cars and pedestrians. Night in a hotel
DAY 6 : Tamatave – Foulpointe (Approx 68km – 8km off-road)
We start early in the morning as we set off at the zoological park of Ivoloina, 10km north of Tamatave. We cycle through busy suburban villages, alongside a river for a kilometre, then over a narrow trail to the park. We take an hour nature eco-tour to experience some of wildlife we do not see close up from the saddle. This unspoilt natural site is distinguished by its luxuriant vegetation throughout the year. A stopover in Ivoloina will certainly delight you as it harbours exceptional wildlife that reminds you the spent magic moment.
After the walk, back to our saddle to join the RN5 which is one of the worst part of this RN until Foulpointe. It is getting hotter and hotter so there will be more water stops throughout the bike ride. At the curve road section, we reach sandbar where we will have picnic lunch followed by an exhilarating ride along the outstanding coastline keeping on northwards, passing by modest resorts and the occasional villages. The final kilometer cuts across an off-road trail to the beach and to our resting place for the night. Night in a hotel
DAY 7 : Foulpointe – Mahambo – Ile Sainte Marie (Approx 41km – 2km off-road)
A very early start today as our final destination is an island just off the coast called Ile Sainte Marie. We cycle to the port of Mahambo (25km) where our bikes are loaded into a ferry to transfer to the island.
After a light lunch, we take ferry to idyllic Sainte Marie. The crossing takes approximately 3 hour (sea conditions permitting).
Our first taste of island is a 16km bike ride over undulating tarmac north to seaside hotel just outside north of Maromandia small village. Night in a hotel
DAY 8 : Ile Sainte Marie (Approx 32km – 25km off-road)
This will be our final day ride, a real mixed emotions as we cycle across and around of this beautiful, authentic island for the whole day but the off-road will be gruelling and we need to negotiate lots of sharp difficulties, deep potholes, rocks and sand.
We set off early heading north and uphill to Ankirihiry village. The first 7km of the day are on tarmac but we soon come to the challenging off-road which stays with us the rest of the day.
Reaching Ankirihiry village we turn right inland for 6km to cross the island from west side to east side. Now with Indian Ocean on our left we cycle south towards Sahasifotra, Agnafiafy and Ankobahoba villages reaching the port of Ambodifotatra. We continue south to our finish line at seaside hotel that will be our base for the next two nights.
After celebrating the finish line, we enjoy a mouth-watering lunch and refreshing drink next to the glittering Sainte Marie channel. What a jaw-opening place to complete this spectacular challenging bike ride adventure in Madagascar.
This evening we celebrate as well the end of the challenge and toast our achievement. Night in a hotel
DAY 9 : Ile Sainte Marie
Relaxing day, go on an optional whale watching tour, snorkel to explore the seabed of the island where you can admire the amazing local faunistic diversity, visit a nearby pirate graveyard or take a getaway to Iles aux Nattes to enhance your stay. Overnight in hotel
DAY 10 : Ile Sainte Marie – Antananarivo
Transfer to airport to catch scheduled flight to Tana. The flight takes about 2 hours. Transfer to our hotel near the airport where you will be able to share a day room if you wish and use the pool or take part in a half-day tour of the nearby crocodile farm.
After dinner together at the hotel, transfer to the airport for a night flight out. Check-in is likely to be a lengthy process at the Ivato international airport.
Total km: 506
Total km tarmac: 428
Total km off-road: 61
Total km tough off-road: 17
Andasibe National Park (D4)
Ivoloina Nature Reserve (D6)
Pirate graveyard (D9)
Comfortable hotels and lodges
Cool to warm, cold evenings in highlands, rain expected
Please note: This a complex itinerary and may be subject to change.
Madagascar is a third world country, which is not fully geared up to tourism.
You should therefore be prepared for changes to the route and accommodation right up to the last minute and remember that facilities will not the same as Europe.