This 15-day bike tour explores the stunning natural beauty of Madagascar as we cycle through the highlands to enjoy beautiful vistas and small villages along the way. From the highlands to the small tropical island Sainte-Marie off Madagascar’s north shore, you’ll love this adventurous holiday to such an extraordinary island nation!
This tour is designed for regular cyclists; we will enjoy 8 days of cycling covering around 65 – 110km per day for a total of about 650km. The terrain is an exciting combination of tarmac and dusty red-earth dirt road trails. Far away from the modern comforts of daily life, this will be an unforgettable experience.
You may also be interested in this alternative 16-day bike tour from the highlands to the coast, which highlights plenty of local villages and artisans along the way! Need some help choosing the perfect tour for you? Contact us for an informational chat so we can advise you based on your travel interests and preferences.
Arrive in Antananarivo at Ivato Airport. You are free to arrive at any time. Meet, greet, and transfer to the hotel where we stay. Tana is a charming collection of colourful houses, often crooked and stuck awkwardly to the slopes. These unique buildings are made up of crooked roofs, weathered brick walls, and ramshackle wooden stalls.
On our first day in Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar, we will have a bike fitting in the morning. Then we will make a small excursion by bike to the surroundings of Antananarivo. After cycling on a bypass road, we will head west for a good 20 kilometres until we reach a private park. Here we will see for the first time on our tour lemurs and other animals.
Approximately 65 km
We will start early by cycling out of Tana on a busy section. Once out of the city, the roads become much quieter and, for most of the day, we will be cycling on an undulating, well-tarmacked road through villages and lush green rice paddies. We will then come to a dirt road section, starting with a few km of cobblestone. It will mostly be uphill for a few kilometres until we reach the top, where we have great views of the surroundings of Antananarivo. The scenery changes and roads are lined with grey eucalyptus trees contrasting against the bright red earth. Later, we reach Lake Mantasoa. The views across the lake are worth the effort.
Approximately 85 km, including 30 km dirt road
After breakfast, we will continue our journey of discovery through Madagascar and drive towards Moramanga. First, we drive a few kilometres on a dirt road and cobblestones to the national road RN2. It’s still quite hilly here. We pass rice fields and typical huts of the Betsimisaraka, the ethnic group that lives here. For the rest of the morning, the terrain and the road are very flat, or hilly and winding. And at Mandraka, we have a rapid descent of several kilometres.
We visit the Exotic Reptile Farm, where we can see many chameleons and frogs. Little cattle can be seen along the route, although the landscape is green. Several small villages are along the road, too. Every now and then we will drive along a railway line that connects Antananarivo with Toamasina. However, only a few trains for goods run through here and so the railway often serves as a walkway for pedestrians. Moramanga is the largest city between Antananarivo and the coastal city of Toamasina. It is an economic centre and also played a role in 1947, during the uprising against the French colonial powers.
Approximately 62 km
In the morning, we stroll across the market and visit the Museum of the National Gendarmerie. The Museum of the Malagasy National Gendarmerie is located within the very premises of the School of the National Gendarmerie. It traces the history of the Gendarmerie in Madagascar from the beginning to the present day. This Museum contains unique collections, witnesses of a historical past, rich in a multi-faceted culture. Then it’s back to the saddle.
We cycle up a long hill followed by a zigzagging downhill stretch of road. The next stretch is gently undulating. We will cycle through the village of Andasibe, then the final few kilometres are a beautiful dirt road trail through the forest to our overnight stay.
Accommodations: Lemur Lodge
About 31 km
Two protected areas, the Analamazaotra Special Reserve and the Mantadia National Park, form the Andasibe-Mantadia National Park. It is a refuge for numerous plant and animal species. Parts of the park consist of a primaeval forest that has not yet been changed by humans. We start the day with a short bike ride to the Analamazaotra Reserve. There, we go in search of the famous Indri Indri. We follow the strange calls and hope to meet a whole family. We also have the opportunity to see many plants and other lemurs. After lunch, we cycle to another part of the park called Mantadia. There we go on a hike in the primary rainforest before we cycle back again. We penetrate the tropical forest and discover extraordinary nature.
Accommodations: Lemur Lodge
Approximately 34 km
Today we leave the rainforest and cycle on an undulating, good tar road. We have some breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding valleys and hills. The landscape changes again and our route is lined with lush banana and mango plantations, as well as lychee trees. We see the endemic Ravenala palm, whose enormous fan-like leaves are used for roofs when building houses. The climate is now changing, and it is getting significantly warmer. After lunch, we cycle to the small town of Ranomafana Est where we spend the night in simple bungalows.
Approximately 70 km
Today we continue to the small seaside resort of Manambato. First, we come through the larger village of Antsampanana with its interesting street market. The next town is Ampasimanolotra (Brickaville), after that, there are a few kilometres of good tar road. The last seven kilometres are towards the east coast and the sea. We have to make another short effort to get over the bumpy dirt road to Manambato and the shores of Lake Rasoabe. The beach is sandy and swimming is very pleasant here. The sea is not far. A thin strip of land and railway tracks separate it from the lake. The daily life of the fishermen and the rustic villages give the impression of being in a different time and even in a different world.
Accommodations: Les Acasias
Approximately 60 km including 7 km dirt road with some difficulties
After breakfast, we cycle back to the main road and continue cycling uphill on the same dirt road we came along yesterday. The next 30 km still have a lot of challenge to offer. Bamboo groves and lychee trees can be found again on the roadside. As the day goes on, the road is pleasantly up and down. We are in the lush, green, tropical region of the east coast with palm trees, banana trees, and papaya. The last 20 kilometres, the road runs flat until we come to the port city of Toamasina (Tamatave).
In the suburbs, we cycle closer together. The traffic is quite dense here and we take part in the pulsating city life with the street market stalls. Carts, rickshaws, cyclists, and pedestrians shape the bustling image of Toamasina, the lively port city. The large, straight boulevards are shaped by the colonial past. The old buildings and often the colonial names of the streets have remained unchanged. The centre, the market, and the port are usually very busy.
Approximately 104 km (7 km tough dirt road)
The path today is flat and the traffic is noticeably less. We see the first sand dunes along the coast. We drive past small seaside resorts and repeatedly cross rivers. A lagoon separates the road from the coast. Mahavelona is a particularly beautiful place full of charm; it is one of the highlights of Madagascar. We enjoy our stay in this idyllic setting. For today’s last kilometre, we turn into a short sandy track to our accommodation. Then we take a few steps to lunch in a nearby restaurant on the beach. Our hotel is idyllically located directly on the sea. A stroll on the white sandy beach is ideal.
Accommodations: Manda Beach
Approximately 63 km
We’re leaving very early today. We experience the awakening country, see the farmers going to work, the students going to school. Housewives are already busy and the market traders are setting up their stalls. We want to catch the ferry to Nosy Boraha. It is located at the Mahambo landing point, about 25 km away. This place has its own flair.
The bikes are loaded onto the ferry; the crossing takes about 1.5 – 2 hours, depending on the weather. We will arrive on the harbourside of Nosy Boraha, where we get back on our bikes for the last section of today’s day tour. Now we will still master the last 18 kilometres on a tarred road to our accommodation, mostly along the coast. At first, the road is flat and now winds its way to the north in a mountainous and winding way. From Inselstraße we turn into a little path that leads to the hotel.
Accommodations: Masoandro lodge
Approximately 43 km
Our last day will be an emotional one! First, a real treat as we cycle around a large part of this beautiful, practically untouched island for the whole day. But later, the terrain of the dirt road will be gruelling and we will have to master many wavy expanses, plus deep and sandy potholes.
The narrow, paved road from our lodge leads us northwards, continuing to climb. Where the tar stops, we turn to the interior of the island and cross the island from west to east, towards the Indian Ocean. Along the way, we pass through some small villages. With the Indian Ocean now on our left, we pass several small villages to finally reach the port of Ambodifotatra. We continue south until we finish at the hotel that will be your base for the next two nights.
After arriving, we enjoy a refreshing drink on the shores of the sparkling Indian Ocean. What could be a better way to end this spectacular challenge in Madagascar. This is the moment when your Tour Manager says “Goodbye”. Tonight, you celebrate the end of the challenge and give a toast to your success.
Accommodations: Masoandro lodge
Approximately 42 km dirt road
Free days to relax on the tropical island of Ste. Marie. Swimming pool, tennis, mountain biking, beach volleyball, badminton, ping pong…a visit to the pirate cemetery on the island or islet Iles aux Nattes. There is even a small nature park located not far from the hotel. From June to October, you may observe whales.
Accommodations: Masoandro lodge
Take a leisurely walk to the airport to catch a flight to Antananarivo, where you can take your international flight to head home.
Airport transfer about 3 kilometres, approx. 10 minutes by car
Mora Travel dedicates itself to organizing ‘sustainable’ trips to Madagascar every day. Sustainability is very important to us! By organizing these trips, we believe our travelers can experience Madagascar and enjoy everything that the country has to offer. And because you are traveling with us, we can contribute to preserving biodiversity and endemicity and giving local people in Madagascar a real chance.
Madagascar is not an easy destination to promote sustainable tourism as the logistics in remote areas are often very basic, the options are limited, and many resources are hard to get by. There aren’t always sustainable options, but wherever possible we opt for the most sustainable choice. Nevertheless, we do promote responsible travel to lessen our negative impact on our destination as much as possible.
This means we work together with partners that are environmentally conscious (renewable energy, sustainable waste management) while also looking after the social and economic wellbeing of the local people. We give preference to local Malagasy accommodations, businesses or for example parks that employ local staff under good conditions, that use mainly local products and/or are engaged in community initiatives. This means that the hotels during the trip are a real mix of very simple and luxury hotels depending on the criteria mentioned above.
We also contribute to reforestation. To compensate for the carbon dioxide emissions of all tourists who travel with us, we plant trees. The purpose of planting trees is to house animals, because they have less and less place to live because of deforestation. We still have a long way to go, but we feel that making this a choice and communicating this to our partners will help create a larger sustainable tourism community in the long run.