The Halfway Point: Baobab Alley Behind Us And Tsingy Road Ahead
This most recent stint of cycling from Morondava to Antananarivo has included some of the toughest cycling since we left Ifaty on Day 1 nearly a month ago. Steep climbs, rocky terrain and hot and humid weather have been the main factors in this, but luckily the pay-off for these conditions is that beautiful scenery is a constant, as is the warm hospitality of the locals, and the dense population of Madagascar means that a Coke stop is never too far away.
After a very relaxing rest day in Morondava, we cycled east, back inland towards Miandrivazo, which is where we’d jumped on the two-day boat cruise to the coast a few days earlier. This route allowed us to see this region of the country by boat and by bicycle without backtracking.
These were the hot days – having just left the beaches of Morondava behind, our elevation wasn’t very high, and as such we literally had to climb out of the heat into cooler conditions as we headed back towards the centre of Madagascar.
From Miandrivazo, we took a bus transfer back to Antsirabe – it was either that or repeat the two days of bike riding it took us to get from Antsirabe to Miandrivazo a week previously, which I don’t think anyone was particularly keen on doing!
This was the most noticeable difference in temperature, mainly because the Miandrivazo area is considered to have the warmest climate in all of Madagascar, whereas Antsirabe is the coldest town in the country.
The cooler weather has certainly made the 120km+ riding days of the last week much easier to endure, and now here we are in Antananarivo, experiencing the vibrant markets right across the street from our hotel while a few of the riders have gone on a two-day tour of the nearby national park to discover even more of Madagascar’s hidden gems.
From here, we’re about to enjoy four consecutive nights of camping as we head north towards the finish line in Antisiranana, near Nosy Be on the northern coast. I say “enjoy” because after the hustle and bustle of towns like Antsirabe, Morondava, Ihosy and of course Antananarivo, a few nights of camping will be a welcome change.
Indeed, we pitched our tents at one campsite a few days ago that was perched on top of a hill, with 360-degree views of the surrounding mountainous countryside that rivalled some of the best campsites of the entire Tour d’Afrique trip!
After this camping stretch, there are really only a few riding days left until we reach the finish line, and several riders are well on their way to obtaining EFI (Every F***ing Inch) for this tour.
With or without EFI though, all 18 riders (that number will now become 20, as we have two new sectionals joining us for the last stretch as of tomorrow) have spent more than enough time on the saddle in the last four weeks to immerse themselves in the various strains of the Malagasi culture in the regions we have cycled through – whether that’s the local food, witnessing firsthand the fishing and farming culture, or even having the local children perform for us when we camped on their school grounds in Mandoto one night.