Train ride and adventure tour
Up until a few years ago, we would have given any tourist who had a Madagascar vacation plans, necessarily a tour with the Jungle Express recommended. In the meantime, however, the trips with this railroad have become such an adventure that we can no longer justify recommending such a trip to our vacationers with a clear conscience. However, as we know that Madagascar as a vacation destination attracts many adventurers and people who are looking for extremes and the truly extraordinary, it is also important to us to provide the necessary information. Information about the Jungle Express to deliver. In general, we no longer have any offers in our luggage, which offer a trip with the Malagasy railroad as standard. In fact, however, it would be quite conceivable to offer our Tours to the East Coast to plan at least in part so that individual sections of the route covered by the Jungle Express can be. So that you know exactly what you would be getting into here, we have compiled the following information.
Past and present of the Malagasy railroad
Today, in many places, the railroad known as the Jungle Express leads from the Malagasy town of Fianarantsoa down to the east coast to Manakara. Manakara was once the most important port on the island of Madagascar and at the same time largest transshipment point for import and export goods. Many of the typical colonial goods were loaded onto ships in Manakara and then shipped all over the world. But most of these goods understandably did not come directly from Manakara, but often from inland, from villages and small settlements. Even today, many of these small settlements have no roads leading into them and the people there live cut off from the outside world. Accordingly, the French colonial powers decided to build a railroad to bring the important and precious goods from the Malagasy hinterland to Manakara and from there to send them profitably out into the world. The Project railroad construction between 1926 and 1936 developed into a gigantic feat that unfortunately claimed many lives. Thousands of workers perished under the adverse conditions and during the construction of the rails. But the result was worth it, at least for the colonial rulers, for whom it now became easy, transport the precious goods quickly and safely. Also from a tourist point of view, the railroad line holds some quite special charms and probably belongs to the most scenic railroad lines in the world. The route leads through the famous mountain cloud forest of Madagascar, over a total of 67 bridges and through whole 48 TunnelThe longest of them measures more than one kilometer. In total, the railroad tracks cover a Length of 163 kilometers, the rails come from Germany, the diesel locomotive from France and the rail cars from Switzerland.
The peculiarities of the Jungle Express
What was once a pleasant and especially visually impressive ride has been, today turns out to be an unpleasant spectacle with all options open. Starting from the exceedingly irregular departure timeswhich today can hardly be reconciled with a solid travel planning, up to the Irregularity of the performed stops as well as the overall extremely precarious condition of the railroad the journey with the Jungle Express nowadays basically offers more inconvenience than anything else. Although there is a first class on the train, the guidelines that apply in Europe only have a limited carrying capacity here. First class in this case simply means that reserved seats are very likely to be empty at the start and that very few chickens and other animals are in that compartment at the start of the journey. In addition, first class travelers have the chance to use the "toilet" on board for up to two hours. After that, the smells in the small cabin become so intrusive that this can only be discouraged.
In principle, for the route from Fianarantsoa to Manakara a Travel time of a good ten hours planned, but this can usually not be adhered to. Particularly at the various stopovers, the loading and unloading of luggage and goods often takes so much time that for the complete route a Travel time up to 24 hours must be scheduled - and that without any foreseeable stops or a functioning toilet on board. The doors in the train are always open, which is quite pleasant, especially in the hot and humid regions the train passes through, even if the train only moves with maximum 15 kilometers per hour forward. However, the many negative experiences that can arise during a trip on the Jungle Express are made up for in some respects: the ride offers a spectacular visual spectacle of changing landscapes and breathtaking natural beauty.
The people you will meet on the trip come from different regions and cultural backgrounds, because especially in the small villages the individual tribes have their own traditions and customs. If you are interested in a tour on the Jungle Express despite all the adversities, or perhaps even because of the numerous imponderables, we will be happy to organize an appropriate trip for you. In fact, for a trip to Manakara we rather recommend our individual trip from Antananarivo to Tulear with a stopover in Manakara. Also on this trip you can enjoy amazing impressive views of the captivatingly beautiful landscape of Madagascar but enjoy significantly more comfort and a greater degree of safety. Feel free to contact us for more information.