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RN5 - the extreme road to Masoala

Travel date: On request, the dates are not fixed

Depending on how you look at it, the RN5 from Soanierana-Ivongo to Maroantsetra is either the worst and most notorious road in Madagascar or the best 4WD adventure in the country. In any case, it is the extreme road of the country!

This tour can be offered in the current condition (which had only deteriorated over the years) only by a provider who specializes in it, and no longer on the entire length. The section from Mananara North to Maroantsetra can no longer be done with a four-wheel drive vehicle. Only a speedboat can help there.

This tour is expensive, very expensive in fact, because the conditions are simply extremely difficult for the vehicles and drivers. The tour cannot be done during the rainy season, but even during the months when it is practicable, there are rivers to cross or drive through, collapsed bridges, rocks, mud without end and sand to pass, and ferries made of oil drums tied together on which the cars are shipped. Everything you could wish for in terms of difficulties on an extreme track is there and even much more.

Crossing rivers or driving over dilapidated bridges (rather musty wooden scaffolding that looks like a bridge from a distance), detours across the beach when there are no bridges at all are only a small part of the challenges to car and driver.

Our partner and only provider for this extreme tour has specially converted Toyota Landcruiser in use. Above all, he can handle it in the best way in the conditions.

This tour is a challenge for the vehicles and for the drivers. The wear and tear on parts is enormous and car parts for such off-road vehicles are very expensive. The use of high quality Toyota Landcruiser in such conditions has of course its price, which you have to accept if you want to travel the fascinating and unknown east of Madagascar overland.

The described variant and especially the connecting tours are to be understood as one possibility among many others. It can also be worked out individually and prepared to personal dates.

This tour can be combined with Sainte Marie, the trekking tour through the Masoala rainforest to the Vanilla Coast, and with many other individual tours. As always, flexibility and adaptability to the wishes and expectations of our guests remains a constant in our planning and guiding.

Other difficult tours will be added to our offer in the coming months. We are also preparing soon four-wheel drive tours, with the possibility of driving yourself.

But what would be such a difficult slope without the appeal of the absolute beauty of the landscapes. You are here in the most beautiful and fascinating part of Madagascar: breathtaking landscapes between ocean and rainforest and extremely friendly people live in this very little visited part of Madagascar. A magical coastline and lush vegetation in still almost untouched nature make for an unforgettable trip.

Stays in almost never visited areas and reserves with observations of the rarest animals that you can almost never see like the Aye Aye Lemurs (Daubentonia Madagascariensis) and many others, sid to visit along the way.

At the end of this track, the most beautiful thing this fascinating island has to offer awaits you: the huge and still intact Masoala rainforest, the bay of Antongil, Nosy Mangabe and much more can be experienced there.

But this description is only a taste of this absolutely extraordinary tour. The crowning glory comes only when you experience it yourself.

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 "MadagascarExotique" of the famous explorer Andre Pereyras, where an unimagined variety of reptiles, amphibians and - in a nearby forest area - lemurs pose without shyness in front of the camera. Moramanga is the next stop 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 N.P.

Today, after breakfast, you will visit Andasibe NP. During 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 "released" 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 Sainte Marie Island, which lies parallel to the coast of Madagascar about 40 km to the east.

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'll notice right away that you're on one of the loneliest routes here, far off the beaten tourist path. The track 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: Mananara North - Maroantsetra

Here is the end of the tour by off-road vehicle. You will say goodbye to the driver, whom you may see again at the end of the tour in Antananarivo.

The runway is in such a bad condition that the route between Maroantsetra and Mananara North is no longer passable even for professionals with specially adapted cars. The crossing is therefore offered by speedboat. It takes about 4 hours.

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:

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After 10 months of total inactivity, self-employed people in the tourism industry in Madagascar are completely without income. There is no opening of the borders in sight in Madagascar and we are at the beginning of the rainy season, which is the low season, even in normal times. I have started a fundraiser for the guides and drivers I know well. From this money we will buy rice and other essentials and distribute them regularly, if possible, until the resumption of travel activities in April 2021 at the earliest. My special thanks to those who have already donated. I will start buying rice tomorrow and will begin distributing it this week.
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Keyword: Donation Madagascar

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I guarantee you that all donations to 100% will reach the people. Kind regards Klaus

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Thank you for thinking about donating to the poorest. Maybe you will come back here again.

I guarantee you that all donations to 100% will reach the people. Kind regards Klaus

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Do you have any questions? Simply get in touch with us! Please use the contact form on the right. We will take care of your request as soon as possible.

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