Getting around: by bus
|Taxi-brousse by AGAPE|
So called taxi brousses are a sort of collective taxi, mostly either Peugeot 504 familiar cars (where they squeeze in at least 9 people plus driver) or minibuses. There are also some large buses now. They are mostly late, leave when the car or bus is full, and quite often break down due to bad maintenance. They are extraordinary cheap (e.g. the 360km stretch Tana - Tamatave costs around 10$US), but often travel at night, so you won't see much and you can't stop to take pictures either. Travel by public bus in Madagascar requires besides to this time, lot of patience, iron will and a sturdy ass. Despite this every corner of this huge country is well connected by a dense net of mini buses. In Tana a backpacker is expected to be literally accosted by a group of 15 men trying to get you onto their company's bus. Once you settle on a bus you reserve your space and they tell you to come at a specific time the next day. Of course you cannot expect to depart at the time you have been told and with some luck several hours later it leaves the station as soon as the most unbelievable items are piled onto the bus (furniture, giant sacks of rice, sacks of clothing to sell elsewhere, oil, gasoline, ducks, chickens, and all other sorts of standard fare). Only when buses are full they actually leave. However travelling by bus in Madagascar is a well worth experience for the adventurous and hardcore travellers, although French knowledge is indispensable.
A far more reliable way of bus travelling within Madagascar is currently being offered by the bus company Mada Smiles based in Tana, which operates a reliable and comfortable bus service between the major tourist attractions in South and East Madagascar (the service provided by this agency has not been tested yet!). They currently run buses leaving from Tana and calling at Antsirabe, Ambositra and Fianarantsoa (fare price is 30 €). After one overnight stop in Fianaratsoa, the bus continues to Toliara calling at Rahonira (further 30 €). A second line covers the East route from Tana to Tamatave stopping at Moramanga, Andasibe and Brickaville (25 €). For more information and online reservations check under www.madasmile.com. This company is apparently substituting the old Madabus, which is now bankrupt.