An unlikely RN7 experience!
Over there where the pepper grows there are even motorcycles for rent. In short, such a corner of paradise should not be missed by any friend of Motorcycle Travel escape.
Experience Madagascar free on a motorcycle.
Some bikers have long planned to venture there in the European winter, where at the same time is summer.
All tours can be accompanied by a support vehicle with mechanic, in case of breakdown you can fully rely on him.
The driver will not hesitate to perform small mechanical overhauls on the machines. If you have relays where you get the chain tightened, clean the filter and check the oil in the middle of the ride is still super luxury!
So with experienced pilots, you can have a motorcycle delivered to you as soon as you arrive at the airport or, if he prefers, you can take an internal flight to Diego in the north or to Tulear let fly in the south, where he finds on the spot what he had booked and reserved.
From single rental to raid with technical support, rally style; there is something for everyone.
About the road realities of the country
Obviously, many make Biker with Africa experience her entire solo program herself, without knowing the realities of the island.
Therefore, it is always important to discuss the tour with me in advance and to arrange the trip with me in the Villa Sibyl to begin. There can be discussed very important points and "traffic rules" that are only valid here.
I have been riding my motorcycles (Harley Davidson Roadking and BMW 1200 GS) in the local conditions for many years and know the conditions very well.
Poor infrastructure, weather-related obstacles and busy villages
Here, except for a few paved roads, the rest of the country quickly becomes impassable for almost half of the year.
With each storm, the river levels rise and the countless fords turn into muddy rivers, not always and not everywhere.
The Biotopes are extremely diverse in Madagascar and many parameters should be taken into consideration during the rough planning stage.
You must always expect to have a lot of patience, time has other values here.
The horn, unlike the turn signal, is a vital part of a motorcycle in Madagascar.
If a truck stinks and uses the left turn signal, it can mean that it wants to turn left or that it indicates that you can overtake safely.
A Shared cab crosses a village honking and you drive behind, the danger of someone spontaneously crossing the road as soon as the danger (the shared cab) passes from his point of view is a frequent accident factor.
Potholes, mud, and other hazards await new victims.
The pecking order also serves as an important Malagasy traffic rule and it has a certain logic unlike many other peculiarities:
Right of way has truck-bus-minibus-all-wheel drive-car-motorcycle-bicycle-pedestrian-animals.
So roughly in that order but that doesn't include the rickshaws, handcarts and other indigenous vehicles.
There are also other right-of-way rules, such as a road with a narrowing by a bridge where only one vehicle can drive. The vehicle that first sounded its horn has the right of way, without the previously described pecking order.
Night driving is absolutely unthinkable and I will spare you a description of the driving conditions.
Never choose stages that are too long, never leave too late and always have a few hours buffer to never have to drive at night.
Average speed about 50-60 km/hour
Beginning of the journey
Antananarivo, the capital, is still called Tana; here the names are very long and it is always better to go straight for the diminutives.
It would also be interesting to start the tour with a three-day ride in the local area, Ampefy and Tsiasompaniry to Mantasoa for example would be a very good start
To leave Tana, there is first about fifteen kilometers of traffic jam (except on Sunday). The roads have no signs, they are saturated with minibuses that vent their black smoke amidst beige cab ducks (2CV), pedestrians, bicycles... then already all these trucks that will accompany you until the end of the trip.
Very quickly, seeing the other road users being bounced around in the bush cabs, you realize how privileged you are to be able to rent a motorcycle for yourself, even if you have to return it on a certain date, even if the mileage is mandatory.
Despite all this, the magic still works, and after a few turns in the middle of the rice fields, the mind opens to the journey.
All the chaos will quickly dissipate once we are on a beautiful winding road amidst bare hills and rice paddies.
The journey to the Tropic of Capricorn
After a day in Antsirabe, a small town in the high plains that lives to the rhythm of the rickshaw, we return to the southern road
From Ambositra to Fianarantsoa the road is a real pleasure. One would almost forget the trucks, their black smoke and the holes that sometimes look like chasms, where it can be easy to disappear drowned in the fog-gas oil during a slightly daring overtaking maneuver.
Minibus cabs also have a very special style to cut corners, especially when idling to save gas; as for the big new rich 4WDs, they want to show that they are the kings of the road more than anyone else, and the biker must remember that he is only the humble prince; it's about basic survival for the motorcycle and the biker.
According to Fianarantsoa begins to descend the road from the highlands.
The eucalyptus trees that had replaced the pines are beginning to give way to more austere vegetation, a mix of apartment yuccas, which here look like giant yuccas but in a giant version, and prickly pears.
The temperature rises, and as the horizon widens, the road winds between great blackish masses of minerals; the sky is perfectly blue, and one could swear that the rainy season has taken place elsewhere.
At the intersection with the slope leading to Fort Dauphin, the Southern tip of the island, you can't help but drive a few kilometers, just because, six or seven out of the five hundred little kilometers it takes to get down there.
There is always a possibility of finding help, since officially you are still on the national road and therefore there is no shortage of traffic.
All around, the horizon seems endless: no more rocks, no more trees, nothing but short grass and savannah.
To the Tropic of Capricorn
Another country is waiting for me, the highlands are definitely behind. In the midst of an almost non-existent vegetation, the road plunges unwaveringly towards the Sapphire Region to.
A few years ago in Ilakaka, this lost corner discovered a deposit that caused a massive onslaught of a population that Mac Gyver would have undoubtedly called the fifth quality.
Along the RN7, the wooden huts have grown a little anarchic; they house a series of small stores, more or less shady, but entirely dedicated to the glory of the sapphire.
There is even a casino like in any good western, where you can lose in a few seconds what you have torn from the ground. Here, I've been told, many people die down in the galleries and gambling halls....
Madagascar is famous for its Baobab varieties, and some believe they will find some all along the way.
But no... not all the way but after the Zombitse Vohibasia National Park on the route between Isalo National Park and the Mozambique channel these prestigious projects are concentrated Baobab giants directly on the street.
Baobabs are almost all on the west coast, between Tulear and MorondavaAlong this route, which should only be ventured at certain times of the year, that this is completely impossible in this rainy season and unaccompanied is hereby said.
Until Tulear, the extreme point of the trip, the road is very run down and you have to slalom between holes, wind through gravel and even face small pieces of corrugated iron.
The city, by the way, has nothing to do with those of the plateaus; here it smells of dust and desert.
Best to continue immediately to Ifaty The former sandy road is now paved. There, the tour can either end harmoniously at the Mozambique Canal or you can gather energy to ride again in the other direction instead of dropping off the motorcycle in Tulear and flying to Tana.
Partly on the same route but with different stages and especially with a fantastic detour to the east to the Indian Ocean.
Those who finally decide to take a look at the east coast will not regret it.
On the way to the Indian Ocean
In the south, it doesn't rain at all for months, and as soon as the first shower comes, it's a complete mess.
As you approach the two cities, the vegetation awakens a little.
That's normal, that's what people in this area live on.
Heart of palm, Coffee, Tea, Cinnamon, Cloves, Mangos, Lychees and Vanilla further north are the riches of the east coast. In the past, the Pangalan Channel, built along the entire length of the coast, all this in the Tamatave port, much further north.
It operates only on certain sections, but you can still go there in a pirogue if you get bored in your bungalow by the sea.
Return to Antananarivo two nights.