The Highlands | The North | The East | The South | The West

Fianarantsoa to Vangaindrano

map Vangaindrano
  © University of Texas

Ranomafana  |  Ikongo massif  |  Manakara  |  Vohipeno  |  Farafangana  |  Vangaindrano  Vangaindrano to Fort Dauphin 


What to see  |  Where to sleep  |  Where to eat  |  Transportation 

Ranomafana is a small town located in the Namorona valley and surrounded by mountains covered with dense rainforest. The landscape when approaching the town is really impressive. Torrents of water and waterfalls remind us that we are entering the rainforest, where rain is expected throughout the year, especially in July and August. The town owes its name to a hot spring located here, whose beneficial effects upon rheumatic diseases were known since the late 19th century. Today is national park that attracts the most visitors.

The forests surrounding Ranomafana are green and humid all year around
© Madagascar Travel Guide

What to see

  • Belvedere

A few kilometres before entering the town on the road from Fianarantsoa, tourists can admire the nuances of the forest, rivers and mountains and valleys from an observation point.

  • The Spa

If you are staying here, you can take advantage of the thermal centre, which includes a swimming pool and a massage service. The pool in the middle of this lush vegetation is very nice, especially when the weather is and warm. The pool is open from 6am to 4:30 pm. The baths are opened from 7am to 11:30 am and from 2 pm to 4:30 pm. The spa is open every day except on Wednesday.

Pool: Ar 1,000 (adult), Ar 500 (children)
Thermal area: Ar 5,000 (adult), Ar 200 (children)
Massage: Ar 10,000

  • Museum

The local museum, located in the city centre, offers an excellent introduction to the history, culture, fauna and flora of the region.

  • Kelilalina botanical garden

Located 12 km Ranomafana. Ar 10,000 and not very worthy. 

  • Arboretum

Admission: Ar 5,000

  • Ranomafana national park

 See under Ranomafana National Park

Where to sleep (Hotels in alphabetical order, prices from 2013)

Budget  |  Middle-class  |  High-end

Budget accommodations

Rian’ Ala
24 beds in a dormitory (8 beds per room), near the park entrance, but far from the village. It is the best accommodation if you do not have your own car, ideal for a night walk and cheap!

La Palmerie
7 basic and clean rooms with hot water and shared toilets. Central located and with a small restaurant.
Price for two people 22,000 to 26,000 Ar

Middle class hotels

Centrest Séjour
Phone: + (261) 033 15 08 033
Mail: centrestsejour@gmail.com
9 functional and welcoming bungalows with hot water (some with private toilet) and 18 comfortable and nice rooms with hot water, private bath and fan. Excellent food. Very good price-quality relationship.
A double bungalow costs 32,000 Ar with shared facilities and 62,000 Ar with private facilities
A double room  113,000 Ar,  and for three people 130,000 Ar

Chez Gaspard
8 comfortable and pleasant bungalows with hot water, some with shared bathroom.
Central location and quiet surroundings. There is a small restaurant.
Price for two people from 20000 Ar to 34000 Ar

Hôtel Foret Australe
Phone: +261 (0)34 16 391 74
Mail: austhotel@moov.mg
Located 2 km from the park entrance, the 18 bungalows have private facilities and hot water. There is a restaurant too. Double bungalow for 42,000 Ar, triple for 63,000 Ar

Hôtel Manja
Phone: + (261) 033 09 010 22
20 comfortable bungalows and 6 basic rooms with hot water and private bathroom on a beautiful location. The hotel is at the end of the village on the road to Mananjary. It has a very good restaurant.
Price for a bungalow for two people from 22,000 Ar to 41,000 Ar
Room for two people 42,000 Ar, 47,000 Ar for three people

Ihary Hôtel
Phone: 75 523 02
Hotel along the river on a beautiful location at the end of the village. It offers 15 large, pleasant and comfortable bungalows with shared toilet and hot water. Restaurant is average.
Price for two people 46,000 Ar, four people 60,000 Ar

High end hotels

Hôtel Domaine Nature
Phone: + (261) 032 07 611 18
Web: http://domainenaturemada.com
domnatrnmf@gmail.com  domnat@blueline.mg
20 spacious, charming and really comfortable high-standard bungalows on a magnificent green setting and fantastic views, located between the village and the park. Friendly atmosphere and professional staff and guides. Delicious meals (menu for 20,000 Ar)
Double  bungalow from 36 € to 47 €, triple bungalow from 45 € to 56 €, suite from 53 € to 65 €, all prices depending on the season.

Setam Lodge
Phone: 24 310 71 / 22 324 31
Web: www.setam-madagascar.com
Mail: setam@iris.mg
20 luxurious bungalows built on the hillside of a mountain with incredible views and located near to the park entrance. Everything seems to be perfect: the rooms are impeccable, the staff is very professional and all restaurant is excellent.
Price for a bungalow for two people from 43 € to 70 €, depending on the season.

Shanti Village
Phone: +261 (0) 321165108
Mail: shanti.ranomafana@gmail.com
This cosy and familiar hotel offers 4 bungalows with all facilities on a superb location. This hotel, formerly Le Relax, has been renewed and re-open recently under a new direction. Ideal place to enjoy nature, relax and forget about everything else! Double ungalows from 30 € to 34 € with breakfast.

Where to eat

Basic restaurant next to the park entrance. Beautiful location and low prices.

Kavana II
Local and European dishes, in town centre. Good food.

Chez Tantely et Claire
Small and welcoming restaurant in village centre. Excellent food, friendly atmosphere and inexpensive. Good value!

Little place in the centre serving local food.


The road to Ranomafana has been really improved in the past few years. Nowadays there is a good connection from and to Ranomafama. The only inconvenience is that sometimes you have to wait quite a long time to get a seat because vehicles are usually pretty full, so try to leave very early in the morning.
There are taxi-brousses every day from Fianarantsoa (2-3 hours journey), Mananjary or Manakara(4-6 hours) and Ambositra (3-5 hours). From Tana it can take between 8 and 11 hours.

Ikongo massif (Fort Carnot)

The mountain Ikongo is a huge rock with a tabular summit whose northern and southern sides are surrounded by the Sandrananta and the Savondronina rivers, tributaries of the Matitanana river. This mountain, located in the middle of the forest, constitutes the core of the traditional Tanala-Ikongo region, whose inhabitants are isolated from the Antaimoro ethnic group (living in the coast) by the mountainous range. The Tanala peoples are divided into two subgroups: the Tanala Menabe in the inaccessible mountainous north, and the Tanala Ikongo, in the southern part of the Tanala homeland.

Each of the very hierarchical Tanala villages has a collective house called “tranobe”, which is usually built on the top of a hill facing the West. Elderly villagers and important figures of the village live in the upper parts of the village, while the youngest occupy the lower ones. Inhabitants wear always a round-shaped hut. tanala Madagascar  © Madagascar Travel Guide

The Lamboharana
After the death of a king, his lower right canine was taken out and place inside a hollowed crocodile teeth. This royal relic became the noun of "Lamboharana" and was believed to possess special protective powers on those who carried it against the bullets and the spears of the enemy.. The sacred relics of eleven Ikongo kings are preserved in Vohitany. The relic of King Tsiandrofo in Vohitsivalana is kept inside a silver trunk donated by an administrator called Besson.


What to do |  Where to sleep  |  Where to eat  |  Transportation  |  Practical guide  

train to Manakara Manakara was once a thriving colonial town with vast coffee plantations but is now pretty much isolated from the rest of the country due to infrequent flights and road access only during the dry season. This pleasant seaside town is nevertheless slowly gaining in popularity among discerning travellers, especially now the super railway from Fianarantsoa to the Coast has been rehabilitated.
Food and lodging is not so up to dated in Manakara yet the travellers won't find it problematic. A port, tree-lined avenues, a complex of buildings dating to the colonial period, mosques… after a long and tiring journey by train, Manakara is the ideal place to "relax".
The train from Fianarantsoa to
Manakara is currently the only one for passengers in whole Madagascar
© Madagascar Travel Guide

The port, constructed in the Manakara River estuary, is the perfect place for strolling and watching cargos loaded with goods on their way to Toamasina from Fort dauphin.
Even there is a marvellous beach in Manakara, remember that you cannot swim there if you have just eaten pork because it is taboo, and besides the sea looks extremely rough.
The eastern part of the city, situated between the river and the Indian Ocean, has no shortage of charm either. Villas surrounded by beautiful gardens and coconut trees hanging over the beach front, give this town a coastal ambiance.

Manakara is the capital of the Antemoro people, who are mainly of Islamic origin, what explains the number of mosques in such small port city. Anakara people have kept "Sorabe", sacred texts, in Arabic words. Those texts remind of Antemoro history, astrology and some Coran verses (Malagasy was first written in Arabic alphabet before English missionaries introduced the Latin alphabet). Antemoro are also responsible for the equally named paper, which can be purchased at the market.

What to do

If you have missed a trip on the Pangalanes Canal from Tamatave, this is your chance to have a worthy glimpse on the canal’s mangroves and Pangalanes’s little fishermen villages.

Several guides organize such excursions. A recommendable one is Rigobert (mobile: + 261 (0) 32 42 255 73, e-mail: roivivant@hotmail.fr)He proposes a nice roundtrip to a small traditional village located on the edge a beautiful beach. This excursion costs about Ar 20.000 per person based on four passengers, including meals.

Another interesting place to visit is a 30 Ha. vanille plantation recently opened for tourism. The plantation is situated at 18 km from Manakara direct on the route to Vohipeno (30 min. by car). Apart from vanille, visitors can also get to know another aromatic plants such as ylang-ylang, niaouli, patchouli or ravintsara; visit the distillery and observing the fecundation of vanille flowers (from September to December). 
Depart from Manakara at 09:30 and return at 12:00. If you are interested just call Jean Walter, the director of this new plantation. Mobile: +261 (0)32 44 653 25    

Where to sleep (Hotels in alphabetical order, prices from 2013)

Budget accommodations

Les Bungalows du Sud
Phone: 72 211 00
8 basic bungalows with cold water and shared toilet next to the main street. Friendly and quiet atmosphere
Price for two people from 12000 Ar to 18000 Ar

Hôtel Morabe
Phone: 72 210 70
5 basic bungalows with cold water and shared toilet and 5 rooms with the same facilities. Central located.
Price for a room 13000 Ar
Price for a bungalows 10000 Ar

Padoula Chambres
Lot 1 B 132 Manakara-Be
Phone: 72 216 23
Simple rooms by the sea on a beautiful location. Camping possible. Basic meals served.

Middle class

Ampilao Beach
Phone: 72 21668
7 basic but welcoming bungalows with beach setting with hot water and private bathrooms. The complex is located 3 km from the village on the road to Ambinangy. Very good food.
Price for two people 37,000 Ar

Hôtel Eden Sidi
Phone: 72 212 85
Big complex with 6 rooms and 20 bungalows, with different prices and standards, located 12 km south from Manakara on a magnificent location on the beach.
Price for two people from 21,000 Ar

La Vanille
Phone: +(261) 20 72 210 23
Mail: hotellavanillemanakara@yahoo.fr
8 comfortable and clean bungalows some km. from Manakara by the sea with hot water, shared or private facilities and TV. Friendly staff and quiet location. Good value.
Price for a double bungalow 20 €, familiar bungalow for 25 €

Les Delices D’Orient
Phone: + 261 20 72 21 734
Mail: delicehotel@orange.mg
8 comfortable and large rooms next to the market and the local disco. The restaurant is maybe the best in town! Excellent price-quality relationship. Recommended.
Price for two people between 22,000 Ar and 29,000 Ar, depending on the facilities.

Les Flamboyants
Phone: + (261) 20 72 216 77
Mail: leflamboyantmanakara@yahoo.fr
6 welcoming and nice furnished rooms really central located, with a big terrace over the village. The friendly staff gives you a lot of information! Good food.
Price for two people from 17,000 Ar to 26,000 Ar

Parthenay Club
Phone: + (261) 20 72 216 63
15 pleasant and comfortable bungalows, with private or shared bathroom and hot water.
Fantastic quiet and green location next to the sea. There is a pool and a club for locals. Very good food. Excellent price-quality relationship. Recommended.
Price for a double bungalow from 29 € to 38 €

 Where to eat

La Guinguette
Welcoming establishment by the sea. Very good food, fair prices and friendly atmosphere. Recommended!

Les Délices de l`Orient
Very popular restaurant central located. Good meals, specially seafood. It is a nice place to meet local people

La Gourmandise
Central located next to the market. Delicious Chinese food and good prices. Good value!

Small local nor far from the sea. They have European and local dishes.


By car or bus

The road north to Mananjary is a pretty good condition. It will take you approximately four hours in a 4x4 vehicle. The landscape is very beautiful, though the “peeled” mountains show an advanced state of deforestation.

To Fianarantsoa it will take you about 6-hour journey in a 4x4. Travellers who compare the road and the train often consider that the first one offers the most beautiful views. It's up to you which means of transport you choose! The hotel Parthenay Club offers a 4x4 rental service. From Manakara, you can hire also taxi-brousse which gets you to Fianarantsoa. A bit tiring though when taxi-brousses are truck-brousses. These generally leave in the late afternoon. Ticket fare is something between Ar 10,000 and Ar 12,000.  

By train
See under transport in Fianarantsoa and getting around by train.

Moving around by pousse pousse

Approximate fares are: Ar 1500 from the railway station to the centre, Ar 2000 for Manakara Be. Night fares cost as much as twice.

Practical guide

Alliance Francaise
Phone: 72 216 62
Web: www.alliancefr.mg/frame_manakara.htm
Mail: afmanakara@alliancefr.mg


Tanambao Ombimena 176
Phone: 72 21 025

Rue Fahafahana
Phone: 72 21 044

There are some Cybers in town centre, like Magnarobo near the railway station. The connection is slow anyhow.

The local disco L´Eden Sidi gets crowded at weekends.


What to see  

In the ancient capital of the Antemoro, situated some 30 km south of Manakara, the Islamic influence is still perceptible in the cloths and attires, turbans, fez and the mixed features of the inhabitants` faces.  It is worth to visit the "tranobe" (the ceremonial house), where visitors can meet their king. It is important to take off your shoes when going it because it is a holy place. In the market, it won’t be a failure to scrutinize the stalls of herbalists. Here, the traditional circumcision ceremonies are particularly impressive. The road from Manakara is in good condition. It is possible to stay in a rudimentary hotely gasy. Taxis-bush pass everyday.

What to see

  • Royal Antemoro Tombs (6 km east)

The village of Ivato (6 km east of Vohipeno) houses the tombs of the Antemoro kings and princes. Visitors can go in after obtaining the authorisation the Fokontany president (enquire at your hotel in Manakara). Do not forget to bring –as always- a bottle of rum for the ancestors, as well as a monetary contribution (locals will instruct you on this). A descendant of the Antemoro king will accompany you during your visit and will teach you about the history of this place, as well as of the many taboos. The most significant tomb is that of King  Ramarahola, the first Antemoro king. It is said that refused to let his grave been dug when he was about to die and started to pray. The earth opened below his feet swallowing his entire body and closed immediately. Each year, around December, the sacrifice of a zebu marks the peak of a big celebration held in his honour. A statue marks each entry of each tomb (which is surrounded by wooden posts). In the eastern site you will see a large ritual stone covered by a "lambamena" (royal red cloth) where offerings for the ancestors are placed. There are very few visitors that come here, so the visit is pretty informal.


What to do  |  Where to sleep  

Farafangana is a small town with a bustling market filled with anything we can find in the region, coffee, pepper, rice, cassava, seafood. Fara fiangaina means literally "the end of the journey", and this apparent isolation of the place might explain the excitement of the locals when a “vazaha” shows up here. The unusual tranquility and beautiful scenery with many hiking opportunities in the nearby forests invite to stay longer. Manakara is about 100 km north. The road is in good condition, except the last 20 km. Taxi-brousses stop here regularly.

What to do

You can visit the special reserve of Manombo, 25 km of the town. The park hosts seven species of lemurs (one of them is endemic) and uncountable birds. Dugout trips on the Takoandra and Menatsimbe streams will offer you the unusual view of crocodiles and nature lovers will certainly enjoy the beautiful Rianambo fall on the Manatsimba river, where it is possible to bivouac. Since the local infrastructed is fully underdeveloped you will need a little bit of time and patience to prepare your trip to the Manombo reserve, unless you are a truly adventurer!

For further information see here: Manombo Special Reserve

Where to sleep

Tsaravatsy Hotel
Phone: 73 910 36
Basic rooms with cold water and shared toilet, popular among locals. Good food.
Price for two people 12000 Ar

Simple and pleasant rooms in nice and quiet setting. Very good food.

Chez Abba
Phone: 73 911 85
Basic and clean rooms by the sea, with cold water and shared facilities.
Price for two people from 10000 Ar

Hôtel Les Cocotiers
Phone: 73 911 87
Comfortable and modern rooms with hot water and private bathroom, central located next to the post office. Very good restaurant. Good value.
Price for two people between 20000 Ar and 34000 Ar

Austral Hôtel
Phone: +261 (0)34 64 766 51 
Web: http://www.groupeaustralhotel.com/ 
Mail:  austhotel@moov.mg
Pleasant and comfortable rooms, with different facilities and prices. Good location and excellent restaurant. Maybe the best hotel in Farafangana.
Price for two people between 29,000 Ar and 36,000 Ar, familiar room for 60,000 Ar

Coco Beach
Comfortable and welcoming beach bungalows south from the village on a charming setting. Friendly staff and good food.
Price for two people between 22,000 Ar and 36,000 Ar, depending on the facilities.


What to see  |  Where to sleep  

The name of this place means “where you never buy water” probably because of the remoteness of the next river.  The road until here is very tough and only passable during the dry season, but probably one of the best in Madagascar! You can stay at the bungalows "Shell" (near the petrol station), where comfort is surprisingly better than expected. Bungalows with hot water cost Ar 10000. Louis, manager of bungalows Jupiter, offers a fascinating 4x4 adventure to Fort Dauphin.

What to see

  • Ampantsinakoho Beach

Beach protected by reefs. Swimming and fishing possible. Access: Drive on south on the road to Manantenina for 10 km, then turn left onto a track for another 10 km

  • Lake Masianaka

Big lake where navigation can be dangerous if the wind blows from the south.

  • Isle of Nosy Be
Not to confuse with the better known Nosy Be northern Madagascar!

Where to sleep

Shell Motel
Comfortable and new rooms with hot water, next to the petrol station in the north of the village.
Price for two people from 14000 Ar

Antsika Hôtel
Basic and clean rooms central located. There is also a restaurant.
Price for two people 12000 Ar

Tropic Hotel
Pleasant and nice rooms in the middle of the village. Good service and friendly atmosphere. Good food.
Price for two people between 17000 Ar and 25000 Ar

Vangaindrano – Fort Dauphin

The hardcore adventurer will attempt to continue his/her road trip as far as to Fort-Dauphin, but this is certainly not an easy goal to achieve. This difficult (but not impossible) enterprise can be only recommended to those having plenty of time and tons of patience! Bush-taxis are everything but reliable. There are lots of rivers to cross and the track condition is so miserable and scattered with potholes that even a 4x4 vehicle will face the biggest difficulties to go forward. And nevertheless, this trip into the deepest Madagascar, where isolated villages are virtually cut off from the world when the violence of the annual cyclones hits the coast, will guarantee a both unforgettable and unique epic journey.

  • From Vangaindrano to Manamboro

A taxi-brousse will cost you about Ar 5000 and an unknown number of hours. A river must be crossed by “ferry”. Tourists have to register at police upon arrival. There is no electricity and not a hotel. But you can stay at the home of a local (Ar 4,000 for two).

  • From Manamboro to Sandadrianane

At latest at this point you will definitely need a 4x4 vehicle. A tray must be crossed and sometimes it is even necessary to go walking. At the town you can overnight in someone’s house for about Ar 4000.

  • From Sandadrianane  to Manantenina

You travel along the coast by canoe and on foot. There is a river to cross before reaching Maroui, the only place where you can sleep.

  • Mantanenina to  Fort-Dauphin

4x4 truck or buses can make it. You will need to cross not as few as five rivers! (buses are pulled by ropes). Plan two days of travel.