Extreme track RN5 to drive yourself
From Antananarivo to Maroantsetra
Tour for experienced piste lovers to drive yourself
This tour is one of the few that, despite its high level of difficulty, can be driven practically all year round and it is also one of the very few tours that have been made accessible to our guests at the wheel of a Land Rover 90 as a self-driver.
Given the difficulties and efforts of this tour, a local driver / mechanic is mandatory to be present. He knows very well the conditions, difficulties peculiarities of the tour and can assist with advice and assistance.
The first part of the tour goes through the chaotic capital city where there are no signs or understandable traffic rules, and then we head east on the busy RN2. These two components of the trip are dangerous and should rather be left to the experienced local driver.
From Tamatave (Toamasina) the vehicles can be driven by the guests.
There is a possibility to have the drivers ride in an independent Land Rover, the cost of which is included in the total price. Otherwise the driver has to ride in the rented car, they take care of the logistics, tour guide and the condition of the vehicles. It is strongly advised to drive with two vehicles in case one gets stuck in the mud it can be pulled out again.
The Land Rovers for 2 people have only driver and passenger seats, it is the short version because they are more off-road and less touchdown when you have to drive up the steep ramps to the ferry.
But there are also those with 5 seats that are cheaper per person, these are also more suitable for the version with the mechanic riding along.
The program is detailed as follows:
Day 1: Arrival in Madagascar
After completing the visa formalities, you will be picked up by us, by one of our guides or by the hotel directly at the airport. Depending on the time of arrival, either a hotel transfer and well-deserved rest is on the program or, if time permits, various activities are possible.
In any case, the guesthouse is always close to the airport.
Overnight stay in the "Villa Sibyl"
Day 2: Antananarivo - Andasibe
Early in the morning you will drive east on the winding and well-maintained RN 2. On the way you will have the opportunity to visit the famous private reserve "Madagascar Exotique" of the famous explorer Andre Pereyras. where an unimagined variety of reptiles, amphibians and - in a nearby forest - lemurs pose unabashedly for the camera. Moramanga is the next stopover before heading to the nearby Analamazoatra area. Near the national park of Andasibe you will take up quarters and already have the opportunity to listen to the singing cries of the Indri-Indris, which often come right into the hotel complex.
Andasibe is probably one of the most visited places in Madagascar. Thousands of visitors come every year to see the largest lemur species of Madagascar. The proximity to the capital Antananarivo also contributes to the crowdedness of Andasibe NP. Mainly in high season it is very difficult to book a room in the few hotels. Therefore, the visit to Andasibe N.P. should be planned early.
Overnight stay in hotel "Vakona Lodge" or equivalent
Day 3: Andasibe- Mitsinjo
Today, after breakfast, you will visit the Mitsinjo Reserve in Andasibe. On the hike of several hours you will see Indri Indris and other, highly rare animal and plant species. After returning to the hotel in the late morning, we will go to the "Vakona Zoo": on the famous lemur island, which is approached by boat, numerous lemurs cavort, which were once taken from illegal captivity and "reintroduced" here. However, the animals have lost all shyness and literally jump on the visitors' noses. Therefore, washable rainwear is highly recommended. The nearby forest is home to a large number of crocodiles, the rare "fossa", and other zoological features of Madagascar. It can be easily explored on a 1 to 2 hour walk.
Overnight stay in hotel "Vakona Lodge" or equivalent
Day 4: Andasibe - Brickaville - Tamatave
Early in the morning you will leave the rainforest and continue on the rather busy road towards the east. After Brickaville, a short detour to Manambato and Lake Rasoabe can be made if the condition of the road allows it. After a long lunch break, we will continue to Tamatave (Toamasina), the largest port city in Madagascar and the second largest city in the country. It will be explored in the afternoon. Tamatave has a growing potential for economic activity and has become the most important commercial center of the country due to its seaport. The city stretches along the endless sandy beach. Its colonial past is still visible due to the way it was built, despite some violent cyclones. Wide boulevards are planted with mighty trees, old and partly dilapidated colonial buildings and beach promenades remind a bit of Nice and the Côte d'Azur in France. It is not possible to swim in Tamatave.
Overnight stay at "Hotel Joffre
Day 5: Tamatave - Mahavelona - Mahambo
The road is surrounded by lush tropical vegetation. 60 km north of Tamatave you will pass through Mahavelona (Foulpointe), a beach resort that has become a popular vacation spot mainly for city dwellers. Here you can swim. A coral barrier keeps the sharks away from the beach. On the other side of the road, a dense tropical forest already begins. Behind this town there is a "floating bridge". Since a cyclone destroyed the former bridge, it "floats" only partially during the rainy season and you have to drive through the water, but this should not be another problem with an off-road vehicle.
After that you will reach Mahambo Bay, a much more beautiful, wild and peaceful place when compared to Foulpointe. Here swimming is always safe. The hotel right on the beach is perfect before the start of the Extreme Tour, which is on the program from the next day.
Overnight stay at the hotel "La Pirogue
Day 6: Mahambo - Fenerive Est - Sonierana Ivongo - Manompana
The landscape seems wilder. You will cross Fenerive Est, a small town very typical of the east coast, surrounded by evergreen vegetation. During the rainy season, it smells of cloves and cinnamon. The trees are full of mangos and lychees. In the curves off Sonierana Ivongo, far out on the ocean, you can see the shadowy outline of the island of Sainte Marie, which lies about 40 km to the east, parallel to the coast of Madagascar.
Sonierana Ivongo has very little to offer. Here the road ends suddenly on the bank of the river. It is a small town, but very lively due to its port. It is the starting point for ferries to the island of Sainte Marie (which is not on the program of this trip, but can be scheduled individually on request). The same small port is also the starting point of one of the most impressive and powerful experiences that Madagascar has to offer, following the meanders of the river to the north instead of going east to the mouth of the sea.
The Landcruiser is driven onto a "ferry" and chugs through the twists and turns of the river to a primitive dock on the other bank. That's where the adventure really begins.
We continue north on a sandy dirt road to the next river crossing. Here there used to be very simple ferries made from old oil drums, but about 10 years ago they were replaced by heavy steel pontoons of the Soviet Army. The disadvantage is that since then you can only cross the river at high tide and therefore often have to wait for hours until the water level rises again. After that, we continue on a bad, but still not terrible dirt road until we reach the bank of a third river, which also has to be crossed by ferry. Here, however, the water is deep enough not to depend on the tides.
You notice it immediately that you are here on one of the loneliest routes far off the beaten track of the Tourism are on the road. The runway runs parallel to the island of Sainte Marie. The vegetation is similar, but the landscapes are more impressive, even on the first part of this tremendous piste adventure.
Manompana was a pirate port because the huge Tintingue Bay was a natural shelter for the ships on the east coast of Madagascar. You are now only 200km north of the huge port city of Tamatave, but you are in a different world. The bay is gorgeous: coconut palms line miles of sandy beaches. On a narrow path you pass dense mangrove forests. Then you continue through a forest. You can hear the Indian Ocean roaring more and more clearly, and then you come to a beach like the ones you see on postcards from the South Seas. The Mahela Peninsula is a tropical paradise in itself. The coral reef protects the coast.
Overnight stay in the hotel "Au bon ancrage", located directly on the bay
Day 7: Manompana and surroundings
This day starts with a quiet boat ride to the starting point of the Ambodiriana Private Reserve, followed by a visit to the coastal rainforest there and the return to Manompana in the afternoon. If there is enough time and if the sea is calm enough, a small detour to the "Ile aux Sorciers" (Island of the Shamans) can also be planned. Here rites are still performed today and there are quite a few local taboos.
Overnight stay in the hotel "Au bon ancrage", located directly on the bay
Day 8: Manompana - Antanambe
Today's stage is only 40 km long, but the track becomes much more difficult: river crossings, mud, bridges, but also breathtakingly beautiful views of the ocean and the rainforest on the other side of the track.
Antanambe is a peaceful place that has quite nice accommodation to offer.
Overnight stay in the hotel "Chez Grondin", located directly at the ocean
Day 9: Antanambe - Mananara North National Park
After breakfast you will go to the part of the huge reserve. About 6 hours of walking are on today's program. Lunch will take place near a waterfall. After that you can spend the rest of the day on the beach.
Dinner and overnight stay "Chez Grondin
Day 10: Antanambe - Sahasoa
After breakfast, you will start for 15km on an extreme dirt road and then take a motorboat towards the Marine Park of Mananara and the island of Nosy Antafana, left in its virgin state. After visiting the National Park we will return to Sahasoa. The eventful day ends with a visit to the village and a dinner at the association of the fishermen's wives in Sahasoa.
Overnight stay "Association of fisherwomen", no other possibilities available
Day 11: Sahasoa - Mananara North
This section is the most terrifying of all. Here you are on a very extreme slope, which can be driven only by very few drivers and only with specially prepared off-road vehicles. After arriving in Mananara, you will check into your hotel. Afterwards you will go to "Roger Island" to observe the rarest nocturnal lemurs in the world: the Aye Aye (Daubentonia Madagascariensis) live here.
Overnight stay at "Aye Aye Hotel
Day 12 to 14: Mananara North - Maroantsetra
Here begins the real difficulty with the off-road vehicle. The track is in such a bad condition that the stretch between Maroantsetra and Mananara North is no longer suitable even for professionals with specially adapted cars. is passable. Overnight stays are possible only in very simple accommodations or in tents.
Maroantsetra is not only an absolute mecca for nature lovers, the small town is also known as the gateway to the vast Masoala Peninsula. The largest national park in Madagascar, known for its unique flora and fauna that cannot be found anywhere else in the world, begins here. Here at the bay of Antongil between the sea and the humid and lush tropical forest, 100 km north of Mananara, is the end of the "road" from Tamatave towards the rainforest. From here there are only forest roads leading through the dense jungle or along the coastline north towards the Vanilla coast.
City life is determined by the harvest cycle of vanilla and other spices or aromatic plants. Vanilla processing, plantations, and clove and vanilla trading are seasonal activities - as is tourism, which still contributes quite little to the prosperity of the population, despite 3-weekly air connections. It is a quiet town, with the only noise being the sound of sea breezes in the coconut palms and the sound of fine rain on the leaves.
Maroantsetra, located in the middle of Antongil Bay, is the starting point for many excursions and for more or less difficult trekking tours through the rainforest or along the coastline. Either on foot, by boat or even by kayak you can slowly advance. Due to the very favorable climatic conditions, this area has the most diversified and the densest and richest forests in Madagascar. The very remote location probably also contributes to the fact that here, much more than anywhere else in Madagascar, you can really experience absolutely untouched nature.
It is a unique opportunity to experience immaculate and endless beaches of fine sand, fantastic landscapes and intact traditional culture.
For the "elite" hikers and nature lovers, Maroantsetra is also the starting point for a 5 to 7 day trekking tour that goes right through the rainforest of the Masoala Peninsula. In addition, the Masoala N.P. is completely crossed. The area also represents the only overland access to the Vanilla Coast.
The difficulty of access to this region, both by land and by the small plane that flies to Maroantsetra, is directly related to the very low flow of visitors. On the other hand, this guarantees the authenticity of this unique region, which it will surely preserve for a long time.
Here in Maroantsetra the slope experience ends, but other adventures are already waiting for you. This trip will be customized according to your wishes and expectations. If you are interested: please contact us.
Our services in Masola and the surrounding area are provided by two different highly specialized partners and local suppliers: