Join us for a magical cycling journey through one of the world’s most unique locations – a land of incredible vistas, diverse landscapes – humid rainforests, searing deserts, high plateaus, dry deciduous forests, endless savannah, the fascinating ‘spiny desert’, secluded beaches, hidden coves and a welcoming population. This is an experience that everyone can enjoy. Our route is almost completely paved and most nights are spent in comfortable hotels. We have thrown in plenty of rest days so that you can get the most of out your time on this amazing island. Madagascar, with its stunning geography and biological mega-diversity is the perfect place for another incredible TDA Global Cycling expedition.
Geographically isolated from the rest of the world for over 80 million years, Madagascar is certainly a world unto itself. Flora and fauna have developed independently from the rest of the planet. Animals and plants that have become extinct elsewhere live on here, the world’s 4th largest island. Even more striking is the degree of endemism (species that occur nowhere else): tenrecs, fossa, upside-down trees, giraffe-necked weevils, 33 species of lemur. This unique development has led to the island being known as the ‘8th Continent’.
The island was one of the last places on the planet to be colonized and this has resulted in a distinctive Malagasy culture. Cyclists may be given the opportunity to witness the ‘Turning the Bones” – a ceremony where villagers disinter and re-enshroud the bodies of dead relatives. At the very least they will be able to enjoy the island’s cuisine – a potent mixture of local/French/Creole/Indonesian & Indian influences – and follow that off with some flavoured rum, the island’s signature cocktail.
Starting on the stunning beach at Ifaty that overlooks Madagasgar’s Great Reef, this section covers the ‘classic’ Madagascar tourist route. It follows the RN7 and runs through a string of stunning National Parks. The landscape is gorgeous – high plateaus, sandstone massifs, canyons, granite peaks, lush valleys, desert plains and rice paddies. Bustling market towns feature some outstanding colonial architecture. Besides lemurs the cyclists should watch out for herds of zebu, the island’s cattle. Rest days will allow riders to take a refreshing dip in the ‘Piscine Naturelle’ in Parc National de l’Isalo or go for a night walk in the Parc National de Ranomafana and look for chameleons. Along the way the cyclists will have a chance to wander through the ‘ghost’ town of Ambalavao, buy sapphires in the mining town of Ilakaka, shop for arts and crafts in Ambositra, wander through the offerings in the Sabotsy Market or visit the 3 Horses Brewery in Antsirabe.
In Antsirabe, the cyclists will turn west and descend from the hills to the small town of Miandrivazo, considered to be the hottest place in the country. Riders will trade in their bicycles for a boat – a 2 day journey along the Tsiribihina River – cold drinks and delicious food on board during the day and camping on the river banks at night. Sheer red cliffs, crocodiles, marshes and mangroves will delight their eyes before the vessel pulls into the sleepy town of Belo-sur-Tsiribihina. Back on their bikes, the next day’s journey will take them through the gorgeous “Alles des Baobabs” and thence on to a rest day in the seaside town of Morondava and a possible visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park. Refreshed riders now head back to the main road. On the final stretch to the capital Tana and the end of this section, riders should watch closely for tombs, painted with abstract designs, the structure indicating which island clan it belongs to.
The cyclists will gather in the early morning light of Tana, the nation’s capital and head north out of town through the city’s 12 sacred hills. The first 3 days will take them through Madagascar’s highlands, the beautiful Ankazobe forest and then a vast empty plateau. Descending into the lowlands, riders will spin towards the Parc National d’Ankarafantsika. This park represents the last strand of dry western deciduous forest in the country and, with its 8 species of lemur, 70 species of reptiles and 130 species of birds, will give the cyclists their first taste of Madagascar’s magnificent natural beauty. Another couple days ride takes the cyclists through Mahajanga, home to a 700 year old Baobab tree, and then on to a rest day at Antsanita Beach.
After a day relaxing at the incredible beach get-away of Antsanita, or perhaps exploring the nearby Cirque Rouge, one of the country’s most famous sights, the cyclists will transfer by bus back to the Route National 6 road. From there it is a 2-day pedal along arid landscape until reaching the bustling town of Antsohihy. Another 2 days of cycling takes us through a region famous for cocoa and spice plantations. Arriving in Ankify Harbour, riders will board speed boats for our final journey of the tour, to Nosy Be, a beautiful island paradise. There we will celebrate our experiences in Madagascar, after which you’ll have the time to park your bike decide whether to go diving amongst the area’s plentiful shipwrecks and reefs, snorkel with endangered sea turtles on Nosy Tanikely, or just sit back with a cold beer and enjoy the view.